Iranian Economy ‘Worse Than Thought’ Says Rouhani Advisor

Share

untitled

An advisor to President-elect Hassan Rouhani in charge of the transition from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration to Rouhani’s said that “The economic situation of the country is worse than previously thought.” Akbar Torkan, who was minister of defense under Rafsanjani and deputy minister of oil under Ahmadinejad’s first term, said that one of the primary challenges of the incoming administration will be to “secure basic goods.”

One of Rouhani’s mandates as president will be to create stability in the Iranian economy, which has appeared unmanageable in the last few years to due economic sanctions from the West and government mismanagement. This is no small task, and other Rouhani advisors have begun to issue warnings against expecting a quick economic rebound.

Continue reading

Khamenei Rep: US-Iran War Due to ‘Conflict of Beliefs’

untitled

The Supreme Leader’s representative to Sepah [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] said, “A soft war comes from the conflict of beliefs, and our war today with America also comes from this conflict of beliefs, and in this war all of Islam stands against all of the unbelievers.”

Hojat al-Islam Ali Saeedi, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative to Sepah, warned that “when the enemy cannot move forward with a soft war, they will start a hard war.” He made these statements in the eastern city of Mashhad yesterday.

The term “soft war” is often referred to as a cultural war that many Iranian officials believe the US and the West are waging against Iran to change the identity and tastes of its public, so that it becomes more friendly to the West and, in their eyes, less Islamic.

Saeedi framed Iran’s standing in the Islamic world this way: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is holding the banner of Islam and it is standing against two imperfect forms of Islam.” The first Islam he described as one “that has taken the shape of al-Qaeda, which has been promoted from the Salafi-Wahabi Arab countries [in the Persian Gulf].” The second “imperfect Islam” that Saeedi believes Iran stands against is from the Western, “secularized Islam, such as one that is present in Turkey.” Continue reading

Chinese Investment in Iran Said to Drop from $3 Billion to $400 Million

untitled

Assadollah Asgaroladi, who is head of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce and Industries, warned that investment in Iran from China has dropped significantly.

To a group of reporters today, Asgaroladi, one of the most influential merchants in Iran after the revolution, said that Chinese investment in Iran in 2011 “had reached close to three billion dollars, but in 2012 this became less […] and had only reached 400 million dollars.”

The question of China arose when a reporter asked, “Under sanctions, are we not forced to sell oil for consumer goods?” Asgaroladi responded that “if we are forced to sell oil in order to buy inferior goods, then why have we built factories?”

China is one of Iran’s top customers for oil. Many Iranians blame their government for allowing Chinese companies to flood the market with cheap and inferior products, causing a strain on Iranian factories and even forcing some to close operations altogether. Asgaroladi continued that “under these conditions we must find a way to help factories bring down prices so that they can compete with imported goods.”

When asked by a reporter what could be done to address this issue, Asgaroladi said that “this is the weak point of management. The reason merchants bring in inferior goods is that we haven’t been able to produce these goods domestically ourselves.” The Iranian government has introduced economic plans such as “The Year of Economic Jihad” and “The Year of National Production” to address the overall economic problems. However, it’s difficult to ascertain how fruitful, if at all, these plans have been.

In regard to the sanctions, Asgaroladi said “we have still not been able to be free [from the effects] of sanctions. The Americans have carrots in one hand and a hammer in the other, and we don’t accept this type of politics.”

Asgaroladi predicted another difficult year for the Iranian economy due to the presidential elections in June. “Political fighting will push the issue of the economy to the side before the elections,” he said, adding that when the new government takes office, in “the first six months, the new government must specify their plan and then have their ministers approved, and this process will go until the end of the year.”

In Other News

untitled

At the opening ceremony of a refinery plant, President Ahmadinejad said yesterday that “we cannot still say that our oil has been nationalized, and the day that we can claim our oil has been nationalized is when all of the earnings of oil is in the pockets of the Iranian nation.”

Oil in Iran was nationalized after the 1979 revolution but has had a long and contentious history, serving as a rallying cry in Iranian modern history for political parties from Islamists to secularists. Despite being one of the top oil producers in the world, Iran still needs to have much of its oil refined abroad.

At the ceremony, Ahmadinejad told the oil minister and those in charge of the refinery that “today, I want you to make a refinery that […] is completely Iranian and from now on; instead of waiting for others to do something for us, we’ll have others waiting for Iranian capabilities.”

The president stated that “we want to reach a point where we won’t export any crude oil. In this case, the refineries will at least double, and this will have a lot of benefits for our country.” Ahmadinejad believes that Iran can sell refined oil at “three to four times the price of crude oil.”

Mashreq News claims Mossad and “Jewish Mafia” assassinated JFK

The ultra-hardline Mashreq News has a piece on the American Mafia claiming that the image of the criminal organization as one comprising “Italian criminals” from Sicily is at least in part a Hollywood concoction and that “at the apogee of the years of Mafia groups’ activities, the biggest and most mysterious American gangster was a Jewish Zionist.” The article then goes on to provide a “portrait” of famous “mob accountant” Meyer Lansky and the “Jewish Mafia” and make numerous strange and unsubstantiated claims drawing on marginal and dubious anti-Semitic literature.

The article then continues by describing Lansky as a “great defender of the formation of the government of Israel.” It also claims Lansky “performed an important role in the establishment of the country of Israel” and that he “was the Godfather of the modern government of Israel.”

The article even goes as far as to claim that Israel and the Mafia had “the most to gain” from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and that Israel’s relations with the Kennedy administration had been brought to a “dangerous dead end” over Israel’s “decision to produce a nuclear weapon” and that Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion left his post as prime minister over the impasse.

“Perhaps [Ben Gurion’s] last action as prime minister was to order Mossad to plan the assassination of John F. Kennedy.”

After making this allegation, the article states Lansky was also implicated in the conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy on the basis of a book by Michael Collins Piper, titled Final Judgement: The Missing Link in the JFK Assassination Conspiracy.

An online search for the book in question shows it featured on a number of Aryan supremacist and anti-Semitic websites. The book was translated into Persian in 2008, and the article quotes Piper on a number of occasions from the Persian translation. At one point Piper is quoted as claiming, “Some rightly claim, if the Mafia killed John F. Kennedy, it couldn’t have done this without the prior knowledge and leadership of Meyer Lansky.”

Further research yields that Piper was invited to the infamous 2006 “Holocaust conference” at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s invitation.

Finally the article describes Lansky’s return to Israel in 1970, and his eventual extradition back to the United States to stand trial, though states he was later exonerated as a result of his “magical influence.”

Continue reading

Minister of Trade and Industry acknowledges sanctions “crippling” Iranian economy

Mehdi Ghazanfari, the Minister of Trade and Industry, has stated in a meeting of the Supreme Provincial Councils that the current sanctions against Iran are different from those of the past and described them as “crippling”.

Ghazanfari also said, “sanctions have pressured the economy of the country and have been an obstacle for our securing its needs, because we haven’t had currency, nor could the Central Bank transfer currency  and nor transport for importing the goods needed by the country”.

Continue reading

MP says Ahmadinejad’s firing of Minister reminds him of behaviour of Shah Reza Pahlavi

Javan, close the Revolutionary Guards, carries the comments of Deputy Majles Speaker, Mohammadreza Bahonar, who has speculated that another vote of confidence might be required for the approval of President Ahmadinejad’s Cabinet, given the numerous personnel changes which have taken place in recent months: “one of our old issues with the 9th and 10th governments is the bringing, leaving and removing [of Ministers] and of course we do not comprehend the reason for this action either”, said Bahonar, also a persistent Ahmadinejad critic.

The most recent and controversial sacking has been that of Dr. Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi as Minister of Health, a move which has been criticized by a number of MPs.

Hojjat al-Islam Mohammad Baqeri, an MP of the Clerical Faction of the Majles, has been particularly forceful in his remarks, claiming Ahmadinejad’s actions are reminiscent of Shah Reza Pahlavi’s [referred to simply by his pre-coronation name, Reza Khan], the first king of the Pahlavi dynasty and a figure universally despised by the politically active clergy for his secularizing and anti-clerical policies, such as banning the traditional veil and his disdainful treatment of the clerical establishment once he had established a firm grip on power.

Continue reading

Baztab-e Emruz on the rumour of Velayati’s secret trip to the U.S

Amid rumours originating on the opposition website affiliated with Mir Hossein Mousavi Kaleme, about Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s trusted advisor Ali Akbar Velayati’s secret visit to the United States with Hossein Taeb, former head of the Basij militia and incumbent chief of the Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Bureau, Baztab-e emruz, close to former IRGC commander and presidential hopeful Mohsen Rezaei, comments:

“In the language of diplomacy dialogue and negotiations are different and [dialogue] is counted as an introduction for [negotiations]. The most optimistic view of that rumour [i.e. that Velayati visited the U.S. to pursue negotiations] is that Velayati wasn’t there, someone else was, it wasn’t in America, but somewhere else, Taeb wasn’t there at all, nor were there negotiations, there was dialogue and it didn’t result in agreement”.

Continue reading

Former Chief Nuclear Negotiator Criticizes Ahmadinejad

Hassan Rowhani, a member of the Expediency Discernment Council and Iran’s former top nuclear negotiator has offered withering criticism of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a gathering in Tehran on Sunday. Rowhani, who still heads the Expediency Discernment Council’s think-tank, the Center for Strategic Research, has particularly criticized the government’s failure to support Iran’s own domestic industries stating, “production will not be mended with slogans and headlines”.

Rowhani continued by stating that the necessary conditions for “security in production” and “calm for producers” must be obtained and that security and calm were based on “the rule of law”.

He also questioned the government’s use of funds as a result of the subsidies reform programme, asking, “part of the subsidies money was meant to be deposited to support industry, but what happened?”

Continue reading

Former Presidential Contender Alleges Government Weakening Currency to Fund Subsidy Reform

Influential Principalist MP for Tehran and former presidential candidate, Ahmad Tavakkoli, has accused  the government of intentionally weakening the rial so that it is able to pay for the process of subsidy reform. In exchange for subsidy cuts eligible Iranians receive a monthly cash payment, the first round of which was approved by the Majles in January 2010.

Tavakkoli said the subsidy law approved by the Majles required the government to meet its budgetary shortfall by means of increasing the price of fuel, thereby closing the gap with global prices. Instead, he claims what the government has sought to weaken the rial and play on disparities in currency in order to pay the cash payments, which are meant to alleviate the brunt of prices increases on basic goods and services such as gas, water, and electricity. Tavakkoli alleged that such policies will exacerbate inflation and unemployment and result in people rejecting the second phase of subsidy reform altogether.

Continue reading

More Attacks on Ahmadinejad

Hajj Mansur Arzi, the most important preacher or eulogist  to back President Ahmadinejad in 2005 and 2009, has forcefully attacked the government and its allies in a religious gathering convened with the clothes sellers’ guild. Baztab reports comments from Arzi’s own website arguing that, “society’s cultural conditions at present are worse than during the Shah’s era”. Arzi also went on to criticize the Ahmadinejad government’s  programme of subsidy reform, stating, “we didn’t know that they would bring such a day about. They give you a [cash] payment, but after they put the people under pressure”. Ahmadinejad’s controversial reform programme cut government subsidies on a range of basic goods and deposited a cash payment in people’s bank accounts in their stead. According to government critics much of the cash payment’s value has since been eroded due to high levels of inflation.

Continue reading