Three Iranian women's rights activists arrested!
The situation in Iran is really confusing. Mr Ahmadinejad, the President, in his most recent interview, is quoted as saying that “ I have no worries about the future of Iran. Why should I be concerned?”
It is a mad, mad, mad time! While a serious econoimc crisis is in the making in Iran, Iran's President, Mr Ahmadinejad is touring Latin America and wishes to contribute to an anti-imperilist fund with his Venezuelan counterpart. Is this really needed or is it being set up for publicity purporse? In my judgement, the best anti-imperilist policy that developing countries should have, is a serious fight against corruption, a genuine attempt to get rid of all instruments of suppression and allow and encourage free expression of opinion and individual freedom, so that a larger proportion of the inhabitants could have and feel a sense of belonging. To put it differently, give the public at large something that is worth defending and they would defend it. Slogans can not and will not do.
The supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran in a speech in Qom- today- has effectively ruled out any compromise on Iran’s stand off with the rest of world on nuclear issues. As anticipated, he has also criticised the UN resolution against Iran, saying that it would be ineffective and should not deter Iran. In relation to Iran’s Arab neighbours, he warned them not to take side with the West against Iran. What is, however, interesting is the full text of the speech has not been published, only an edited version, a summary of the actual speech. I have checked a number of Iranian sources- all official and semi-official- I noticed that the text which is published is identical in all these sources. The moral of the story is that all these different sources- Ilna, Irna, Isna, Baztab, Mehr, Aftab, Entekhab- just to name a few, have the same “ editor in chief”!!
This is a letter written by Naser-ed-Din Shah in his own hand writing, to his ambassador in London. This Shah ruled over Iran for nearly 50 years- between 1848-1896, and was assassinated in 1896 by a single bullet. This is a note he wrote to his ambassador about five months before his assassination:
According to the latest available data, imports into Iran in the first 9 months of 1385 [2006/07] exceeded $30 billion while the total value of non-oil exports was only $11.5 billion. This would give an annual trade deficits of nearly $26 billion [oil excluded]. While Iran earned $486 per ton for her exports, the equivalent figure for her imports was more than $996. It was also stated that $ earned per exported ton has declined as compared with the same period last year. The Custom Department has added that as compared with the same period last year, the value of Iran’s non oil exports has increased by 41.7 per cent, a point not missed by the Trade minister who claimed that in five years time, Iran is likely to turn trade deficit into a surplus. If this could be done, it would be a major achievement, but, a closer look at the composition of Iran non-oil exports suggests that it is unlikely to materialise. Petrochemical products account for nearly 40% of the non-oil exports, and more importantly, nearly 79% of the share of Petrochemical products belongs to Gas. To put it differently, the “ real” value of “ non-oil” exports is likely to be around $7 billion and not $11.5 billion as claimed by the official data.
While on the surface, this cat and mouce game between Iran and the West continues, deep down, I am extremely worried about the economic situation in Iran. It is ture that ever since 1980, the US imposed economic sanctions against Iran, but, during all these years, others have been trading happily with the new regime. When the current UN sanctions become operational, I fear that it could cause the complete collapse of the economy. I am aware that the price of oil may be rising, but, I see this as the root of Iran's economic problem rather than a solutions for its problems. I would like to be optimistic, but I cann't. The petro-economy of Iran is too dependent on the oil money, too dependent for my taste! In the last year of so, almost every economic indicator has been moving in a wrong direction. The officials, of course, continue to tell positive stories about the rising volumes of transactions in numerous stock markets that have been created in various towns and cities in Iran. But, on the job front, and especially, on inflation, the situation is truly frightening. In an unexpected move, one of the vice-Presidents of Iran revealed that the lowest 20% of the population are so poor that they can only afford to buy bread, and at best, bread and yoghurt. In another piece, an Iranian academic claimed that 10 million Iranians live in absolute poverty, and another 10 to 20 million suffer from relative poverty. At the same time, we also know that prices of basic necessities of life are rising very rapidly. It is undoubtedly true that the UN economic sanctions, could only intensify this underlying inflationary pressure. And if the Oil money dries up or reduce daramatically, the economy would have no option but to collapse.