• 4 December 2009
  • Posted By Bardia Mehrabian
  • Diplomacy, Iran Election 2009, Iranian Youth, Sanctions

Ahmadinejad – Not an Economist

The immediate aftermath of the 2009 Iranian election brought heated debate about whether the election was stolen or not. Six months on, while the general consensus is that it was a questionable vote, the debate has since morphed into a question of whether or not Mahmoud Amadinejad enjoys majority support.

Analysts in the past posited the idea of “two Irans” – akin to our own “two Americas” during our recent electoral cycle – where big city “urbanites” (usually associated with elite or privileged classes of Iranian society) were the predominant supporters of Mousavi and the “Green Wave”, pitted against rural (poorer) demographics that sided with Ahmadinejad. However, a recent polling article reveals that the Iranian regime may be losing the backing of some of its rural base.

Study Reveals Ahmadinejad Supporters in Rural Areas No Longer Back Him

…The two post-election polls showed that 39 percent of the youth and 23 percent of the older age group who had voted for Ahmadinejad now regretted their vote. The stated reasons for this: the raping, killing, and torture of young men and women who had participated in demonstrations after the June elections and the realization that Ahmadinejad was to blame for the economic situation.

…32 percent of the entire population live in such rural and small urban areas.

One young rural Mousavi supporter paints the picture of the growing frustration with Ahmadinejad and the regime in the rural and small town areas of Iran:

“Look, I am not educated and I don’t understand politics the way [an informed individual does]. This village has a population I think of around 8,000. My guess is Ahmadinejad got 50 percent of the votes. He is not as loved in the provinces, or at least here, as much as city folk think he is. I personally know three-hundred people from amongst friends, family, and acquaintances who voted for Moussavi. Now they say in our entire village only 43 people voted for him. Do they take me for a fool?”

Thus it seems that the government’s claims that the opposition is confined only to North Tehran’s urban elite may not actually be true.  A recent NY Times article supports the idea that the regime is wrestling with factionalism even within and among the conservatives, especially on the issue of Ahmadinejad’s attempts to tackle costly subsidies.

But what does this all mean for us here in the US?

While Washington policy makers debate what to do with Iran, one Iranian baker suggests that things might not be so complicated:

“No one knows anything. You think Ahmadinejad is an economist?”

Superficially this means that Congressmen and women chomping at the bits to impose broad, blanket sanctions (e.g. IRPSA) in order to strain Ahmadinejad financially to come to the negotiating table. Realistically, this couldn’t be further from the truth, for as we have seen Ahmadinejad’s effort in stealing an election, he welcomes such sanctions to further centralize Iran’s economic structure, acquire a “legitimate excuse” to remove subsidies, and further deprive the Iranian people from having economic and moral means to stand against him.

Where there is “smart power” there is “smart sanctions”. If the U.S. wants to hurt Ahmadinejad and his cronies financially, it must be done where sanctions are focused and narrowed to the regime, while the Iranian people prosper economically and have the independent financial backing to pursue alternative political agendas. It doesn’t take a democracy fund, it is simple buy and sell, supply and demand, regulated capitalism. Iran’s private sector is the only surviving pillar that challenges the hard line conservatives. Even Iran’s richest family, the Rafsanjanis – who are involved politically as well – are on less than cordial terms with the hard liners. However, Rafsanjani and his technocrats are not enough, there needs to be a burgeoning private class in Iran to foment stronger left leaning, West-seeking private entrepreneurs that can outcompete Ahmadinejad and the IRGC, which they will if sanctions are lifted on the citizenry and enforced on the regime.

A burgeoning Iranian private sector allows for private businesses and countries that currently do business with Iran – looking at you Siemens, Nokia – to deal with non-aligned private businesses instead of the conservative IRGC. Would Ahmadinejad allow this? Of course! He’s seeking to turn the country around economically, but he wouldn’t recognize the political undertones that come with it. After all, he’s not an economist.

Posted By Bardia Mehrabian

    2 Responses to “Ahmadinejad – Not an Economist”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Bardia, I completely agree with you, regarding the lifting of sanctions, the investment in the Iranian economy and the encouragement of a higher standard of living for ordinary Iranians. Yes, that would definitely produce a well motivated electorate. However, think for a moment of the pro-Zionist lobby, and how the last thing in the world they would want to see is Iran as the region’s economic powerhouse. In their eyes, this would not be in Israel’s interest, thus they do everything possible to see that this cannot happen. Of course, whether this is or is not in the best interest of ordinary Israeli (and American) citizens is the subject of the book “The Israel Lobby” by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.

    Concerning the InsideIran.org article, it is interesting but hard to follow, as the results are provided in a tidbit fashion. Furthermore, there is an obvious political tilt to the article in general; the results are shown in a biased format with the inclusion of anecdotal references.

    The big question I have is why haven’t the poll findings been made public? Also, what specifically is the methodology employed for the poll? (very important) And which scholars from Tehran, Qom and Shiraz (or organization) are conducting this poll?

    I’ve written InsideIran.org seeking answers to these questions.

  2. ilona@israel says:

    is there any international independent comission that is able to chek out the resalts of this elections?

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



Share this with your friends: