Wednesday, February 10, 2010

31 years later and ...

On the eve of the 31st anniversary of the 1979 revolution, the Iran that was dreamed and fought for by that generation has never been materialized. After 31 years, the country is in far worse shape, the people in direst of situations and the image of Iran and Iranians in stark contrast to what a nation, any nation would want it to be.

What was it that we demanded back in ‘79? One major slogan that often reverberated off the streets, back in 1980 or so was “esteghlal, Azadi, Johuriyeh Islami” meaning “Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic”. But have we achieved any of these elements?

Esteghlal (Independence)

We are in a place that our government bends backwards to please the scant few supporters it has, like Russia and China, in the hope of blocking any legislation against it in the UN Security Council. These willful concessions have led to surrendering our rights in the Caspian sea, a role in providing natural gas to Europe in the gas deal that now Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are the suppliers, while countries like Turkey (as conduit) are other beneficiaries. This, while Iran holds massive reserves of gas in the region! Let me not start on the Fishing rights in the Caspian region too, since it is as bad a deal as the Gas’.

The flood of Chinese cheap and low quality goods, in to the country has effectively crippled many sectors in the indigenous industry that we see more and more factories shut down due to bankruptcy or inability to compete with the rock bottom prices of imported goods from China. To my horror, the recent released numbers on the amount of trade between China and Iran, has surpassed that of the whole of Europe. China, now, has about $36.5 billion, overtaking Europe’s $31 billion. No wonder no matter how heinous the crime of oppression of Iranians, how brutal the crack-down, the Chinese will not accept the world’s opinion on the need to reign the Islamic government in!

Azadi (Freedom)

I don’t think there’s any doubt on the level of repression and lack of freedom in today’s Iran, as there has been tomes written on the matter. From an era where Iranians had almost everything they desired except political freedom, to a time that they have next to nothing including political freedom.

Jomhuri (Republic)

I believe it is the general consensus that the Islamic republic under the overseeing eyes of the supreme leader (Vali-e Faghih) who has the final say in all important matters, to the point of overruling the supposedly elected government, can by no stretch of imagination be considered or even mistaken with a “republic”. In a country where those who have the most power and leverage on running the nation are not elected, using the term “republic” is just a tragic joke, aimed at offending a sane man’s sensibilities.

Eslami (Islamic)

This is not Islam. This is the most frequent statement repeated by many Islamic scholars and clergy, who are not under the payroll of the supreme leader or the government. From the oppression of citizens, to abuse of women’s rights, to treatment of minorities, to rape and torture of prisoners, willful spread of drug usage and prostitution, and to each and every aspect of life in Iran, is a contradiction to the dictates of Islam and Quran.

So we have failed to achieve the most basic and most important slogan/reasons we revolted against Shah. So much that we see hordes of past revolutionaries now have made a 180 degree about face and praise the very Shah they helped depose!

So what have we achieved?

Economically, in a glance;

- Inflation in excess of 30%

- More than 50% of the population under the poverty line

- A weak and ailing indigenous industry

- Devalued Rial (on the verge of extinction) from the rate of 70 Rials to 1000+ Rials per US Dollar!!

- Losing the chance to make the island of Keesh what Dubai is today, a financial and leisure focal point for the whole region as Keesh was planned to become

- Conceding countless rights to various neighboring nations, from Russia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan in various gas deals as well as fishing rights, to losing even in the southern border as Qatar, sharing a large gas reserve with Iran has been extracting gas and making ridiculous profit off it while we are barred from making use of the field due to sanctions!

But when we have government officials whose appointment is based on their allegiance to the leader or regime, rather than their capabilities & expertise in the field, it is natural to witness such devastation in economy and financial ruin of a once prosperous nation.

Socially and Politically;

- Becoming the world biggest prison for journalists and independent thinkers

- Numerous under-age executions, stoning of women and other inhuman and barbaric acts

- Conducting at least 138 terroristic assassinations outside our borders

- Suffering horridly high number of airplane accidents, simply due to our inability or unwillingness to be a peaceful part of world community, which has denied us the ability to maintain the fleet. Not to mention in our zeal to please the Russians in off-loading their defunct and decrepit Topulev planes that even the Russians have discarded!

- Becoming the regions pariah and often ridiculed nation from the era that we were respected and were the envy of the whole of middle east

- More and more people losing their faith in their religion and turning away from it

- A middle class that dances on the edge of poverty, from a middle class that used to vacation in Europe or the States mere 30+ years back

- Filling the pockets of various terroristic groups like Hamaas and Hizbullah and countless unknown others in Syria, Palestine, Yemen and ..., while among our own people we have those who go to sleep hungry, those who, due to abject poverty, force their children to beg on the streets or resort to much more unmentionable deeds!

There is indeed truth to the saying; "The Iranian government is like an evil step-mother to its own people, and a loving mother to all other muslims in other nations"

But one positive we have achieved amidst all the negative is the need for separation of religion from government. This, I believe, is the biggest and most valid fruit of the past 31 years.

31 years later and we are still in pursuit of independence, freedom and a government that is elected by the people and for the people.

No comments:

Post a Comment