In Iran, everything feels up in the air ahead of the US election.
Currency markets have frozen awaiting the vote, though the damage has been done already by President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure sanctions campaign. For $1, you can get 276,500 rials.
When Trump was inaugurated in 2017, it was around 37,000 rials to $1.
While the currency collapse has pressured Iran’s government, it’s also destroyed people’s life savings. Goods like medicine, diapers and car parts are difficult to come by — and very expensive when found.
Iran also cannot sell crude oil openly abroad because of sanctions, and jobs remain scarce for its youth. The economic problems have led to nationwide protests in recent years.
Meanwhile, Iran faces what appears to be the Mideast’s worst outbreak of the coronavirus. It has reported some 35,000 deaths, and officials acknowledge the true toll is likely far higher.
Hossein Kanani Moghadam, a former commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who now works as an analyst, insists America will “continue its hostile behavior” no matter who is elected.
But he acknowledged that he thought Democratic challenger Joe Biden would try to come back to the negotiation table if elected — and that prospect is keeping Iranians glued to the results of the vote.
A music video by an Iranian band called “Dasandaz” ricocheted around the internet in recent days.
“Know that who you vote for changes our lives,” the band sings. “Hey, Joseph, Thomas, Laura, we don’t know why this affects us more than it does you.”