Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ahmadinejad's letter to Obama

Ahmadinejad has sent a letter to President Obama, supposedly offering a solution to all the United States’ woes along with a few warnings. This letter only reinforces the belief that the Islamic regime is on its last tethers and is actually frightful of various scenarios predicted for its near future by outside as well as internal elements. This may be a sign of desperation in their part as they see their allies slowly but surely are won by the west, starting with Russia and now, China who has been more inclined to align its comments with the US and Europeans than before, to even Ahmadinejad’s supposed brother-in-arms, Chavez who has kicked up Venezuela’s oil production (like other states such as Saudi Arabia) to cover for the declining sales of Iranian oil, to exclusion of Iran in an OPEC-style committee on natural gas, while Iran holds the world’s second largest reserves of natural gas.

Aside from the audacity of trying to dictate or teach the world how to run itself and its affairs from global warming to the nuclear issue and armaments, Ahmadinejad proves he craves attention like no other, no matter if it is positive or negative. His incredulous bombastic rhetorics of the holocaust and Israel done in regular intervals are just another proof of this. A government that is incapable of performing simple tasks and has run the country’s economy to the ground now entertains ambitions of telling the world how to run itself?

But there’s more to the letter. In his warning about US’ inability to complete the job in Afghanistan and Iraq, he, indirectly points to IR’s influence among the various insurgencies and terrorist groups in those countries, who have consistently opposed the US presence and have been a cause of instability and terror. This was always hinted at in an obscure manner. But this latest statement is among the most direct confessions of involvement in destabilizing forces of Iraq and Afghanistan. The same can be said of IR’s relation to another terrorist group, Hamas in Palestine, who have been a thorn in the side of the peace initiatives between the Israelis and Palestinians. Ahmadinejad says “Obama has no chance in the Israeli-Palestinian talks either. Not only he doesn’t have a chance, but he is not allowed to have one too”. Could that be a veiled admission of interference?

The white house has indicated that it may not answer the letter and I truly believe this is the best tact in this situation. Apart from the fact that Ahmadinejad is still not the top voice in Iran and eventually it is Khamenei, who decides the macro issues, ignoring a petty dictator’s ridiculous cries for his most coveted attention is most effective.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ahmadinejad's economic follies and blunders continue

A casual glance at the economic performance of Ahmadinejad’s government in the past 5 years, especially last year, makes it easy to fathom the near crippling inflation, rising unemployment and worst of all, the relentless destruction of indigenous industry brought on by Ahmadinejad’s one sided import policies.

The brunt of the administration’s failure and incompetence is borne by the poor class whose numbers are alarmingly rising and expanding to include the lower sections of the middle class also. Increasingly depressing news regarding labourers and factory workers are rife. Whether that is non-payment of their salaries for as long as 9-10 months or imprisonment for merely demanding their rightful salaries to sustain their families. Labour activists have been arrested and sentenced to many years of prison for voicing their grievances against the small but powerful ruling class!

And now comes the news of yet another blow to this ever expanding sector. According to economic experts, the poverty line stands somewhere near $900 per month, while the government officials try to downplay the number and trumpet numbers in the ballpark of $600 to $650. It is hard to miss the tragic sleight of hand that the very same autocrats with their erroneously low statistics, have yet set the minimum wage for the labourers for a family of four at $303. Half of what they deem (erroneously) as the rock bottom line for survival!

A major reason for industry’s inability to pay wages is the same import-craze that floods the market with cheap Chinese and low quality goods of all kinds, stifling home grown production and manufacturing. Even village-industry handicrafts carry the “Made in China” label! The damage is distributed throughout the country, from agricultural products to small & large industry. The pricing discrepancy and the consequent lack of a fair market competition has resulted in abysmal numbers for industrial growth. Even the airbrushed government figures of 6-6.5% for the previous year will be reduced to almost nil or at best 1% for the coming year. At the same time, the inflation rate was officially announced to be around 37%, which puts the real rate somewhere above 40%. We might as well brace ourselves for another series of woes as the regime faces a diminishing market for its oil with countries like Japan, India and even China reducing their purchase of Iranian oil. Not to mention the downgrading of investment by multinational corporations like India’s Reliance and Russia’s Lukoil. Although the Malaysian company, Petronas and the French Total are yet to join in the fray and reduce or stop their supply of refined petrol to Iran. Petronas and Total have the lion's share in supply of refined petrol to Iran.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad’s remedy to all these troubles, is to distribute whatever wealth we have left across the world! He has promised a “loan” of more than $100 Million to Ecuador at the incredible interest rate of 0.5% on the eve of their president’s visit to Tehran. In return, Ecuador’s president cancels his visit and sends a lowly mission to Tehran to collect the “loan ”! Ecuador was also the recipient of another $40 Million investment towards the building of two energy sector projects .

Within the last 5 years such “loans” and donations have been extended to countries like Sri Lanka ($1.95 Billion), Bolivia ($225 Million), Venezuela ($1 Billion), Afghanistan ($100 Million), and a plethora of other countries like Nicaragua, Myanmar, Kenya, Tanzania, Gambia, Zimbabwe, St. Vincent, … the list only grows, besides the usual recipients like Syria, Lebanon’s terrorist group Hizbullah and other terrorist entities like the Palestinian Hamas. In Perhaps this foolish largesse is with the aim of buying a “nay” vote in international arguments regarding U.N. resolutions or sanctions against Iran. While Nero merrily fiddles in this way, a large swath of Iranian children, the rightful owners of this wealth are homeless and go to sleep hungry. And Iranian factory workers and labourers continue to struggle to find the means to feed their families while waiting in fast fading hope for their overdue-by-a-year wages.

All this points to an extremely tumultuous year for the illegitimate government and a regime that is losing its scant popularity among their hardcore minority, as more and more of the population is affected by the terrible policies and negligence of people’s dire circumstances.