Mahdi Bakhtiar, 26, moved to Tehran from his hometown Tabriz city in northwest Iran early last year for his engineering studies. To fund his education and cover the exorbitant living expenses, he took up a part-time job at a consultancy firm.
That was before U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal signed between Iran and a group of world powers known as the P5+1 in 2015. The unilateral withdrawal in May 2018 was followed by re-imposition of tough economic sanctions.
For Bakhtiar, moving away from home and adjusting to life in a big city was a challenge.
But what made matters worse was the sanctions, which came barely two months after he had rented an apartment in downtown Tehran, joined university and started working part-time.
With the re-imposition of sanctions, Iran’s economy went into a tailspin, leading to devaluation of currency, low wages, inflation and discontent.
Bakhtiar wasn’t prepared for it. He was earning less and paying more for his education and living costs.
“It was like a bolt from the blue. I didn’t know how to deal with the situation and I didn’t want my parents to support me financially,” he told Anadolu Agency.
“The whole idea of coming to Tehran was to be independent but the reality hit me hard.”
Iran has faced sanctions since the Islamic revolution of 1979, says Mehdi Mohammadi, a university lecturer and historian.
“But this time, the Americans are using the ‘maximum pressure’ tactic which also means maximum risks of war,” he told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
Last month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani admitted that Iran was facing “unprecedented” pressure due to sanctions, which have led to “worse economic conditions” than during the country’s 1980-88 war with Iraq.
Besides squeezing the Iranian economy through sanctions, Washington has also ended waivers given to countries to buy oil from Iran, depriving the Islamic Republic of its main source of revenue.