Sunday, January 28, 2007

Three Iranian women's rights activists arrested!

Tala't Taghinia, Mansoureh Shojaie, and Farnaz Seify, women's rights activists, journalists, and members of the Women's Cultural Center, were arrested at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, while trying to leave the country to attend a journalism training session in New Delhi, India. After their arrest, security forces escorted the three activists to their homes, where their personal belongings, such as their books, computers and computer cases, were searched and seized. Having searched their homes, these three activists were transferred to Evin Prison, 209th Ward.
I condemn the arrest of these human rights activists and call upon the government to release them immediately.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Would the US attack Iran?

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?”
In another part of his interview, he said, “the Americans are not in a position to attack Iran. They wish to put pressure on Iran and cause problems for us, but, they would fail”.
His foreign minister, Mr Mottaki, however informed the Iranian MP’s that “the American threat is serious and far from being just a psychological warfare and propaganda”. Mr Rafsanjani has added a new dimension by saying that in a recent meeting with Mr Khameneh-ee, someone said that the threat was not serious, but, the leader added, “No, you are wrong, the threat is serious indeed”.
I tend to share this view that Mr Ahmadinejad is wrong here. His reasoning is simply dangerous, i.e. saying that the Americans are bogged down in Iraq, hence, would not attack is a dangerous oversimplification. As a matter of fact, following his own reasoning, for that very reason, it is potentially feasible that in order to divert attention from the mess in Iraq, the American administration may decide to open a new front by attacking Iran.
This said, I hope that I am wrong and the issue would be settled through diplomacy and negotiation.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It is a mad, mad time....

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.
What is amazing, however, is that a deeply religious President- Ahmadnejad of Iran- seems to be happily " in bed" with the " godless" Latin American Presidents, be it Fidel Castro, or Chavez or Moralis... I wonder what do they talk about? Do they talk about religion or life after death?
In Iran, however, there seems to be serious concern about his economic management, about the disastrous dependence of the Iranian state on the oil money, especially as the oil market seems to be heading towards a nose dive! Obviously, dependency on oil is nothing new in the modern history of Iran, but, its depth is in fact, new. On the other hand, Rafsanjani's latest outburst is important too. He has openly- without naming anyone of course- launched a serious attack on the economic policy of Ahmadinejad. We will have to wait his return from this trip, to see how his supporters would respond. Is it the beginning of a " cold civil war" in Iran? Who knows!
I can only finish by saying that I am worried. Really worried about Iran, its economy and its overall health, not to mention, the continuous threat by the USA.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wise words!

A person who spent his life to deceit others, has fooled himself. What a
fool this person must be, who sacrifices such a great gift for such a naïve and
small reward
Iranian poet

Monday, January 08, 2007

We are all equal! Equal in being checked!!

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”!!
Do you think that this “ editor in chief” has just sent a text- the same text- to these “ sub-editors” and asked them to “ publish and do not alter”, or what? It is just an accident!! [I am joking of course!]
I am beginning to think, in such a case, what is the point of publishing exactly the same text in seven different web sites! Obviously, when the exact words as used in the speech are published, one would get the same text everywhere, but that does not apply in this case. Somebody who has listened to the speech, or had access to the tape, sat down somewhere and wrote this text. What a lovely system! We are all equal, and some are not more equal!
Equal in being controlled and checked all the time!

Friday, January 05, 2007

A letter that is 110 years old!

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:

“Agha Hassan* had no permission to travel to Europe. I do not know if you have issued him any. Anyway, he should be returned to Iran immediately. It is really, really bad if ordinary Iranians could travel to Europe like this. If travelling is not stopped, then, they would go in their tens of thousands and that would be truly disastrous”

*an ordinary Iranian

Was the Shah clever or stupid?
What do you think?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Iran's external trading imbalance:

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.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

On the Petro-economy of Iran

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.