Friday, December 5, 2008

Bad economy means trouble for Iranian regime

Iran's Mullahs face a dilemma.  The rule of Ahmadinejad is becoming unpopular. There is no real democracy in Iran as the Supreme Council has the final say in all things.  It is easy enough to invalidate all the reformist candidates as "un-Islamic" as they did in the past.
But if they do so they may face a popular uprising. Making women wear the Hijab or hanging a few homosexuals or Bahai is one thing, and to stage Holocaust denial conferences is good clean fun. It is OK --  as long as you are not a woman or a Bahai or a Jew of course..  But making people poorer will not be tolerated. Everyone wants A-bombs and missiles in Iran, needed to kill the Jews and the Americans, but nobody wants to pay for them. Make no mistake. The "reformist" Mullahs like Rafsanjani have the same agenda as the other brand. The nuclear development program began or continued in secret under the reformist regime and it will continue if Ahmadinejad is ousted. But Iran will put some window dressing on its society and its foreign policy. There will be less talk of wiping out Zionism and more talk about the plight of the poor Palestinians. Missile tests will not get so much publicity, and perhaps all the programs will slow down a bit.
An alternative is to close the straits of Hormuz and drive the price of oil back up again, or to get Sy Hersh and others to produce more canards about Israel or the US attacking Iran.

Reuters - 05 December, 2008

Iran's main reformist party accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday of squandering windfall oil earnings and driving up inflation, part of its campaign to oust the leader at an election next year.

Most Iranians complain about high inflation, at over 29 percent, and rising unemployment. Analysts say the economy will be the main focus of the June 2009 election when Ahmadinejad is expected to run for another four-year term.

The Islamic Iran Participation Front said the government had not saved enough when oil prices were high to maintain spending now the price has dropped to below $ 50 a barrel. Prices hit $ 150 in July.

"His main campaign slogan was to share oil wealth fairly ... But instead, his economic policies have caused major problems for Iranians, particularly for lower-income people," Mohsen Mirdamadi, the party's secretary-general, told about 400 people at an annual party meeting.

Critics, both reformists and conservatives, including some who backed Ahmadinejad's first presidential bid, say the leader's high spending is to blame for surging inflation that stood at about 11 percent when he took office in 2005.

"Since the (1979 Islamic) revolution, Iran's total oil income has been $ 700 billion. Over 36 percent of it was earned during the tenure of office by Ahmadinejad," Mirdamadi said. "But inflation and unemployment rates are the highest now."

Mirdamadi said substantial political reform was needed.

"Reforms are the only solution to the economic crisis," Mirdamadi told the audience, which included reformist former president, Mohammad Khatami.

Khatami has yet to announce whether he wants to relaunch his reform plans by competing in the election. But his allies say he will announce his candidacy in the coming weeks.

Analysts say securing victory in the presidential vote will also depend on gaining support of Iran's clerical establishment.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's top authority, has supported Ahmadinejad, and his comments may sway millions of revolutionary loyalists. Ahmadinejad is also popular in small towns and rural areas where he frequently doles out cash.

"Ahmadinejad's economic and foreign policies have failed. But he still can win if the leader supports his candidacy," said an analyst at the meeting, who asked not to be named.

Khatami fell out of favour with many Iranians for failing to take a firmer stand against Islamic hardliners during eight years in government. But allies say he could win another vote.

"Wherever people see a leading reformist, they complain about Ahmadinejad's policies. They want Khatami as their president again," Mirdamadi said.

"Winning the election is the first step. Iran's next president should compensate for the losses under Ahmadinejad."

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