Monday, June 27, 2005

That's democracy Iranian style, whether Washington likes it or not

By Yushi Furuhashi

Monday, June 27, 2005

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received 61.69% of the roughly twenty-eight million
votes cast in the Iranian presidential election run-off. The turnout was
about 59.6%. That's a landslide victory by any standard. What does it
mean politically?

Such adjectives as "reformist" and "conservative," "soft-line" and "hard-line," "moderate" and "fundamentalist," and so on -- all too frequently employed by the corporate controlled media -- do not shed light on what happened at all. Take a good look at what Ahmadinejad said to the Iranian public, and you'll see that his election is, first and foremost,the result of the Iranian working class's rejection of both
neoelitism,neoliberalism and concessions to imperialism, represented by former President Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and so-called "reformists" who see themselves as "the elite."

His [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's] views on the policies he would follow if
elected president, as expressed by him during his election campaign, are
given in the following sub-paragraphs:

Domestic policy:
"If elected, I would implement development projects on
the basis of justice and the wishes of the people. Political, cultural
and economic developments are not isolated from each other and at the
very core of all of them is justice and public consensus. Among my
priorities are removing the problems of the youth related to employment,
housing and marriage. My idea of political development is different from
its foreign interpretation. We must expand freedoms quantitatively and
qualitatively, and determine ways in which freedoms could be used. The
way we have been dealing with the youth on the streets does not solve

Foreign policy:
"The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is
in principle based on the establishment of peace and justice worldwide.
For this reason, the expansion of relations with all countries is on the
agenda of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I mean balanced relationships,
based on mutual respect and observance of each other's rights. There are
very few countries that fall outside this scope. If they do, it is due
to their blind approach to the Islamic republic. Of course, there are
hierarchies in the diplomacy. In these echelons, we give priority to the
establishment of relations with our immediate neighbors, then with
countries that once fell within the zone of Iran's civilization, then
with Muslim states and finally, with all countries that are not hostile
towards the Islamic Republic of Iran. We desire an expansion of
relations with regional states and the establishment of extensive public
contacts. We believe that visa quotas should be lifted and people should
visit anywhere they wish freely. People should have freedom in their
pilgrimages and tours."

Relations with the US:
"I meet ambassadors from European, African and
Asian countries once a week. Iran does not need imposed ties with the
United States. When the world formed a united front to fight Iran, our
oil could not sell on the international markets and our economy was
paralyzed [due to the 1980-88 war imposed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq], the
nation did not extend its hand [to outsiders] for help. Now that we have
managed to build the infrastructure [for development] and the country
has progressed, we do not need to accept any imposed relationship with
America. The US severed its ties with the Islamic Republic to harm the
Iranian nation and so do those who favor resumption of ties with the

UN reforms:
"Global equations undergo changes, this is their nature.
Today, the Muslim world is the poorest of the global powers. The UN
structure is one-sided, stacked against the world of Islam. The Muslim
world should be allowed a chance in the UN Security Council, where
certain groups now possesses the right to veto. We consider this
privilege essentially wrong. It is not just for a few states to sit and
veto global approvals. Should such a privilege continue to exist, the
Muslim world with a population of nearly 1.5 billion should be extended
the same privilege."

Nuclear energy:
"This subject has been given a tremendous amount of
publicity. It is a critical subject. Nuclear energy is the scientific
achievement of the Iranian nation. Our youth have crowned themselves
with this achievement, via domestic technology and by reliance on their
own knowledge. The energy belongs to the Iranian nation. Definitely, the
progress of a nation cannot be obstructed. Scientific, medical and
technical development of our nation is necessary. I believe there are
certain individuals that create a false mood. They want to portray the
situation as critical, while there is no crisis here. The technology is
at the disposal of the Iranian nation. Certain powers do not want to
believe this. They resist against accepting such a right, such an
achievement of the Iranian nation. Their scientists and experts have
admitted that the Iranian nation is entitled to this right. I believe
the problem can be solved with prudence and wisdom, by utilizing
opportunity and relying on the endless power of the Iranian nation,
through our self-confidence. The ongoing artificial mood is political
sleight of hand. The mood aims to influence the Islamic Republic's
domestic developments.

"One cannot impede scientific progress. You can see scientific progress
everywhere in the world. One cannot obstruct this movement. This is not
something that can be prevented with an order. No one can deprive the
Iranian nation of this right. They are vainly trying to stir conditions
worldwide. They want to fan tension, create crisis to meet their
transitory objectives. That's a kind of psychological war. This is as if
you want to deprive someone of industrial progress. This is something
impossible. Industry is intertwined with the nature of an individual.
Technical knowledge has now become an integral aspect of the Iranian
psyche. You cannot say that the Iranian nation should not use math,
should not have physicians, should not build large dams, or should not
be able to build a refinery or a plane. This is an illogical claim; no
one accepts it. Fortunately, the world has seen this. God willing, these
few arrogant powers will accept it as well. We have relations with
governments and nations. The basis of those engagements is guaranteeing
and respecting each other's national identities. Iran's present status
in the field of nuclear energy is indigenous and it has been gained
without reliance upon foreigners."

Threats to Iran:

"The system of domination is founded on depriving nations of their
true identity. It seeks to deprive nations of their culture,
identity, self-confidence and in this way dominate them. Our
dear country, Iran, throughout history has been subject to threats.
These were due to its advantages and geopolitical conditions as well as
the capacity of the great Iranian nation. The Iranian nation for a long
period of time has been the architect of civilization and the standard
bearer for science, technology, culture, literature, arts, math,
medicine, philosophy, astronomy, and the like. It still holds these
standards. It continues to hold the banner of independence and freedom.
These threats, however, are not of recent origin. These threats have
been with us for a long time. Our enemies can deal a blow to us any time
they wish. They do not wait for permission to do this. They do not deal
a blow with prior notice. They did not take action because they can't.
Our nation is today a powerful nation. Fortunately, Iranians are
politically active worldwide. For hundreds of years Iranians have been
migrating to many parts of the world. They took Islamic culture to other
parts of the world and established it there. Now too, Iranians have a
wide-scale influence in the world. They have strong cultural,
scientific, political and economic influence. The presence of an Iranian
elite, outstanding figures in many parts of the world is a precious
asset for the Iranian nation. Iranians defend and present their Islamic
and Iranian identity to other people worldwide." (B Raman, "Bush's
Imprint," Asia Times, 21 Jun. 2005)

In his speeches as a candidate, Mr. Ahmadinejad, the mayor of Tehran,
has attracted a following not with his talk of strict Islamic values but
by presenting himself as a sort of Islamic Robin Hood, promising to
strip away the power and privileges that have enriched a small segment
of society and to distribute the nation's wealth to the poor.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..............................

While Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former two-term president,
promotes his many years of experience in Iran's government as his
credential for election, Mr. Ahmadinejad essentially casts himself as
the anti-Rafsanjani: a simple, religious man, the son of an ironworker,
who refused to accept his pay as mayor and who, if elected president,
will fight for the poor.

He has promised to deliver pensions, health insurance and unemployment
insurance to women. He has promised to shift state money away from
more-developed cities to less-developed communities. He has promised
zero-interest loans to farmers. He has promised to stabilize prices and
give teachers a raise. (Michael Slackman, "Upstart in Iran Election Campaigns as Champion of Poor," New York Times, 23 Jun. 2005)

Iran will flush out corruption from the country's oil industry and
favour domestic investors in the underdeveloped hydrocarbons sector,
Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed on Sunday.

He has previously promised to cut the hands off the "mafias" he says run
the oil business in OPEC's number two producer and has made a pledge to
distribute Iran's oil wealth more fairly.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...............................

"Fighting bureaucratic corruption in all sectors, including oil, is part
of a definite policy for our government," he told reporters at a news

"In all fields, including oil, priority will be given to local
investors," he added. (Reuters, "Ahmadinejad Vows to Favour Locals in
Iran Oil Deals," 26 Jun. 2005
As for questions of personal freedom, this is what Ahmadinejad has to
say: "'People think a return to revolutionary values is only a matter of
wearing the head scarf,' Reuters quoted him as saying. 'The country's
true problem is employment and housing, not what to wear'" (Nazila
Fathi, Blacksmith's Son Emphasized His Modest Roots," New York Times, 26
Jun. 2005

Whether Iran's new president can deliver on his promises of populist
economic and foreign policies, while practising pragmatic tolerance on
cultural questions, remains to be seen. But there is no question that
not only his platform but also his working-class family background, his
modest manners, and even his simple appearance stood in stark contrast
to all other candidates', so working-class Iranian voters, fed up with
"an official unemployment rate of 16 percent, and unofficial estimates
of 30 percent" ("In Iran, It's Jobs, Not Bombs," Christian Science
Monitor, 27 Jun. 2005
), cast their lot with him. That's democracy
Iranian style, whether Washington likes it or not.


Post a Comment

<< Home