October 3, 2006


Ahmadinejad's domestic troubles (Kimia Sanati, 10/04/06, asia Times)

While President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is busy running a high-voltage campaign against the United States and its policies, Iranians are wondering whether he will ever make good on election promises to crack down on corruption and distribute Iran's vast oil revenues more equitably.

"My whole family voted for Ahmadinejad because he promised to improve our lives. He said he was going to fight corruption and create jobs. He said oil money belonged to the people. I haven't seen any of the oil money in my house yet, but I have to deal with the ever increasing prices anyway," said a a 67-year-old pensioner who asked to remain anonymous. "I'm running a family of three on less than US$220 a month and the price of the cheapest cut of meat is $6 per kilogram. Thank God I'm not paying rent or we wouldn't have anything to eat."

A political analyst in Tehran said: "Dissatisfaction with the administration of President Ahmadinejad is not yet widespread, but it is growing fast. The hardline government that outran reformists on a plank to check inflation, lift living standards, create employment, and take a bite out of the corrupt and the rich and give it to the impoverished has not only failed to deliver those promises, but has clearly moved in the opposite direction." [...]

Economic indicators now show a huge decrease in the stock-market value and private banks claim they are on the brink of bankruptcy resulting from lowered interest rates. The inflation rate is said to be just above 12% now, and is forecast to rise to 14% or 15%. There is a huge budget deficit, amounting to $8 billion. Even Iran's top judiciary has warned about capital drain. The highly subsidized, oil-revenue-dependent Iranian economy is struggling with inflationary stagnation, they believe.

"It's still too early to make a good assessment of the government's economic performance, but some of the contradictions resulting from lack of a clear economic theory are already becoming evident," said Saeed Leylaz, an economic analyst in Tehran.

You can't organize an economy around the imminence of the 12th Imam.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 3, 2006 12:51 PM

You can't organize an economy around the imminence of the 12th Imam.

Sure you can. Just like you can plan your economy around the disjointed ramblings of a bitter German who spent his entire life in a library and hated to bathe.

Didn't say it would work. Just saying you can do it.

Posted by: Dreadnought at October 3, 2006 1:43 PM

There is a guy named John Batchelor who posts on spectator.org's blog, or used to. Not sure who he is, but he claims to have insider info and breathlessly ascribes all sorts of strategic brilliance to Amadinejad and the mullahs, who he sees and having perfectly congruent agendas. This summer he touted their wonder weapons better than the Iranian news agency and stated they had a brilliant plan to get oil up to $100/bbl by November so as to bury the West.

Several of these weapons were developed in photoshop, their military exercises have revealed all sorts of valuable info to the US Navy and Air Force and it looks like we can afford $100 oil way better than the Iranians can afford $49 oil at this point.

It's interesting to look back at predictions to see who was correct. So far, it's looking like OJ has had a better grip on Iran than most pundits. While I think he understates the threat posed by the mullahs and the degree to which their government is guilty of corruption, they do seem to be trying to climb down rather than escalate. And, if the Hezbollah attack on Israel was actually part of an Iranian effort to escalate tensions with the US (rather than a typical Lebanse CF) then it was a strategic failure on Iran's part.

Posted by: JAB at October 3, 2006 1:47 PM

So, you can't.

Posted by: oj at October 3, 2006 1:48 PM

Batchelor had a radio show on WABC in New York for about seven years, and it was also broadcast nationally on the ABC satellite channel up until the end of August, when he was replaced by Mark Levin. He'd often have on guests like John Loftus with Mideast intellegence gossip, along with others on domestic issues, like Larry Kudlow (who sometimes served as guest host). An interesting listen, but some of the information was a little too breathlessly hyped to be trusted without verification.

The Shah's close ties to the United States from the mid-50s onward meant Iran had far more people coming over to the U.S. over the next quarter century, and many who stayed after Khomeini's takeover in early '79. As a result, the average Iranian has far more connections and a much better idea about what's happening over here than folks from other Middle Eastern nations who were either hostile to the U.S. (Egypt, Syria, Iraq) or incredibly restrictive of their own people (Saudi Arabia) to let them get a whiff of Western lifestyles.

Posted by: John at October 3, 2006 1:58 PM

I've often wondered... In the Bible, Jesus says the end will come when the Lord says it's coming. How can some mortal iranian idiot with a scraggly beard do anything to cause a situation where the choice of that time is other than God's choice?

Posted by: M. Murcek at October 3, 2006 1:59 PM

The Fifth Monarchists couldn't immanentize the eschaton either, but it never stops folks from trying...

Posted by: oj at October 3, 2006 2:15 PM

John, good observation about Iran. I have met many Iranian immigrants over the years and was initially surprised with how much contact they have with the old country. I am sure that contributes to Iran being more pro-American than most Americans realize, at least at the street level. Hope we don't have to bomb them but it may well come to that.

Posted by: JAB at October 3, 2006 2:18 PM

I just hope we are doing everything we can behind the scenes to assist Ahmadinejad's fall. If they have inflation, we should be smuggling in counterfeit currency. If they are worried about spies, we should be leaving false clues that finger regime loyalists as traitors. Etc.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 3, 2006 2:27 PM

Using whose intelligence agencies?

Posted by: oj at October 3, 2006 2:31 PM

"You can't organize an economy around the imminence of the 12th Imam." that is exactly what he is doing. When the economy collapses, chaos ensures, out of this chaos, rises the 12th Imam. This is the least that the Iranian president could do to accelerate the return of the 12th Imam who is awefully tired living in his well all these centuries.

Posted by: ic at October 3, 2006 2:39 PM

The election precedes and prevents chaos.

Posted by: oj at October 3, 2006 2:43 PM

You can't make the time value calculations work. The "return" is like a massive call option over the entire enterprise.

It doesn't seem to stop Christian Millenialists from making a buck, though.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at October 3, 2006 9:56 PM