Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lessons from Bazaar's strike

The latest bazaar strike in Tehran due to a proposed 30-70% hike in taxes, and the subsequent back down by the government to revert the rates to the previous years’ shows how weak and incapable the regime is when faced with a collective civil disobedience. Traditionally, bazaar has been wielding great power in Iranian politics, despite keeping a low profile and behind the scenes nature of this influence. And the Ahmadinejad’s latest miscalculations borne out of the rapidly depleting government revenues, and a budget deficit of over 40%,to increase the tax on merchants is yet another indication of how incompetent his advisors have been in devising paths to make up for the ever decreasing government coffers, a direct result of the sanctions.

The Ahmadinejad’s illegitimate government has been desperate in finding ways to lower the deficit and has been haphazardly aiming at various targets. Primarily, they had proposed lifting of the subsidies. But facing massive apprehension from the population, they have postponed the implementation of them. Then they targeted another source of tremendous wealth, which is the Azad Universities, affiliated with Ahmadinejad’s nemesis, Hashemi Rafsanjani. With weeks of threats and use of their plain-clothed militia to apply pressure, proving impotent, finally steps in the supreme leader to quell the simmering pressure cooker and effectively deny yet another route for replenishing the growing hole in the budget. And the Bazaar incident is just one more in a series of signals of Ahmadinejad’s utter desperation.

But what the freedom movement and activists can learn from this is when faced with a resolute, collective section of the society, it is the regime that stands in the vulnerable position. A lesson that can map the future plans of the movement as we move to the next phase of wide-spread strikes, civil disobedience in all forms, delays and refusal in payment of utility bills, …etc.

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