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A 2010 parliamentary report indicated that Iran’s unemployment levels were among the highest in the world — 17th worst among 208 countries and territories surveyed. And, unemployment is particularly severe among young people.
Lacking an efficient system of data collection, distributing financial assistance to 60 million Iranian as the Ahamdinejad government has promised to do, is bound to leave many poor people behind, especially those who failed to register electronically or are illiterate. Many among the 90% who registered might be removed simply because of bureaucratic attempts to cut costs. This would inevitably cause a backlash against the regime.
The millions of educated, middle-class Iranians who took to the streets following the stolen elections of 2009 will likely be joined by more volatile and poorer masses, hurt by the subsidy reforms. In addition, Sunni-Muslims in the outlying parts of Iran – the Kurds in the northwest, the southwestern Ahwazi-Arabs in Khuzestan, and the Baluchistan in the southeast of Iran — are seething with rebellion against the regime, thus, draining the hated regime of precious resources in order to protect itself.
Economic survivability for the average Iranian notwithstanding, the freedom deficit in Iran and the repressive nature of the Islamic Republic and its current government is pushing most Iranians to the brink. The power struggle between the hardliners loyal to Ahamdinejad and the more moderate traditional conservatives (in the mode of former President Rafsanjani) is widening, with Ahamdinejad being forced to defend his controversial choice of vice president and the recent sacking of Foreign Minister Motaki. Ahamdinejad is also under fire for assuming powers previously within the domain of the legislative and judicial branches.
British member of Parliament Brian Binley captured a good slice of Iranian reality in a recent speech (1/13/11) when he called on the British Foreign Office and the U.S. Government “to realize that their ‘dual track’ policy toward Iran of diplomatic engagements and sanctions is not only incompatible with the situation, it is directly counterproductive. Attempts to engage with the regime have been both fruitless and completely divorced from reality. Engagement was advocated out of a mistaken view that the regime in Tehran is powerful and stable, and that the only plausible option was to cut a deal with the mullahs and ignore its opponents. Events have proved that view to be wrong.” He went on to say, “Anti-government protests that began in 2009 have consistently highlighted the weakness of the case for appeasement. They repeatedly exposed a regime that is fragmented, devoid of a sound political base and fiercely opposed by a generation of young men and women who yearn for freedom and overwhelmingly support the demands of the organized resistance for internal regime change.”
Amir Fakhravar, imprisoned in the notorious Evin prison for 5 years while serving as an Iranian student leader, is currently the president of the Iranian Freedom Institute in Washington DC. He summed up the Iranian people’s sentiments saying, “The Iranian people have been repressed for over 30 years, and they want freedom.”
Will Caspian Makan’s prediction come true? The gamble Ahamdinejad undertook with ending the subsidies may very well spell its coming demise.
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