Saturday, December 25, 2010

A crippled regime?

It's apparent that the ongoing sanctions regime against the Iranian government is excruciatingly painful. Ironically, the Lebanese newspaper 'Daily Times' reported that "Iran has been forced to slash aid to the Lebanese Hezbollah because Tehran is being squeezed by international sanctions." It is simply evident that the regime is under tremendous stress to survive.

Talking to a relative who lives in a small town somewhere in Iran, I was informed about how much the locals have grown to hate Ahmadinejad and the rest of the government. I was told this new move could be a way of punishing ordinary people who took to the streets in 2009 to protest the rigged presidential elections. This relative of mine was telling me how people feel betrayed by the very man who had promised every one wealth, prosperity and food. I was told about the presence of police forces around financial center of the town to deal with any possible protests or tension that might arise from the economic overhaul that the regime has begun to implement.

The recent cuts to subsidies have created an atmosphere of bitterness and resentment (that existed before but now it is multiplied) towards the ruling theocrats among those who support the regime and those who have always opposed it. Personally, I see this as a positive sign. Those who support the regime mostly live in small towns and villages while urban centers and major cities are where opposition and reform minded people tend to live. This new economic overhaul plan to cut subsidies will turn the once pro-Ahmadinejad crowds to anti-regime, pro-change individuals as the situation get worse every day.

The leaders of the 'green movement' has also slammed the current government for implementing these drastic measures:
    "The country is faced with severe international sanctions, the economy is stagnating, unemployment of higher than 30 percent has spread across the country, and inflation is running wild"
This couldn't be further from the truth. Prices have soared sky high while the income levels and salaries have stagnated and decreased. All in all, these developments show a crippled regime on the verge of financial bankruptcy. Nuclear weaponry, terror financing and arms building are expensive stuff and petro-dollars to sustain their crazy adventures are hard to come by due to the ongoing international sanctions. The Iranian people deserve better than this but won't be able to finish the job on their own. We need help and we need it now. A small nudge can tip the balance in our favor.


saggezard said...

Another way of looking at subsidies cuts is that the government's liabilities have dropped by $30 billion plus annually, if this resource is diverted to strengthen the revolutionary guards and Basij factions there would be sufficient power to suppress any opposition regardless of dissatisfaction caused by economic suffering, considering that every other factor remains the same (think North Korean Army). Leaders of Green Movement are in no form or shape nonviolent Gandhi like characters or practitioners, peaceful struggle against IRI is simply unimaginable with the current leadership and not possibly for another millennium! In conclusion, there cannot possibly be real change in Iran unless there is armed uprising by the people. Unfortunately there has never been any will by powers to support real change since the status quo is by far more beneficial geopolitically and economically (for the powers) than a desired democratic outcome from the Iranian people's perspective. Also Iranian people are far too concerned with short term self interest than all the other players. If there were a sudden injection of arms and support followed by media campaign then that would be the nudge necessary to knock the Islamic republic out. There would be lots of blood but what is spilled in a few short weeks is far less costly than what would be lost over years to come and that is what Iranians would accept as a quick, logical and less painful solution.

Don Cox said...

Economically, subsidies are a bad thing, and should be removed. But it is crazy to try to do this in one go.

A rational government would find a way to reduce them very slowly, year by year, over perhaps a 15 year period. Then people would have time to adapt to the more realistic prices.