Hey Worker! Hey Teacher! Hey Toiler!
Our plight, is your plight.
For victory, our strike needs your support.
(To clap, one hand is not enough)
[Lorry drivers Strike, September 2018]
Iran’s Black September
The Iranians spent a black September going through succeeding crises created by the regime’s opaque system made of false promises, altercations, and mounting repression.
The puppet president and his team of ministers ran from one fire to the next, trying to extinguish the blaze, preventing the flames from licking around the pyre. But, before they were done, other fires flared.
Amateur firefighters, some ministers and the head of the central bank burned themselves and were pushed out of the government. After all, they were small sacrifices to the Vali-e Faqih’s grandeur.
However, if the flames of a couple of fires were put out, shortly the burning cinders will rekindle.
The arsonist is the Supreme Leader himself. He is too old to adapt and has never been able to understand the people’s demands. Psycho-rigid and a dogmatist, for Ali Khamenei the revolutionary ideology of 1979 and the anathema of Khomeini should prevail for eternity.
His minions, the herd of ayatollahs, preachers and Friday prayers, eating out of his hand, throw more oil on the fires out of loyalty, stupidity and fear of change. Besides, they have no other alternative: when the Supreme leadership falls, they will go down with him. The hope of the theocracy survival rests in the hands of the IRGC forces backed by Russians and not in their ability to appease and run the country with serenity.
The Free Fall of the Rial
The rial has fallen steadily against the dollar since early March of 2018. In April, the fall accelerated. In May, in the wake of Donald Trump’s declaration to withdraw from the nuclear deal (JCPOA), the multinationals and medium-sized foreign businesses pulled out of the country and the rial’s fall accelerated. By the end of September, 200,000 rials would buy the same dollar bought for 44,000 in March.
Internationally isolated, the regime has no cash or the necessary credit to face the perversity of the situation. It has neither the means nor the ability of reforming itself. Therefore, it uses the overused methods to try and curb the value of the soaring dollar: ostentatious declarations combined with wrong, hasty decisions.
Recklessly, the ministers set up lists of economic sectors that could benefit from a fixed price, cheaper than the free market dollar. In other words, subsidising the dollar for imports. Utterly ineffectual and unrealistic, the lists have created a chaos in which only the profiteers survive by buying goods from abroad with (official) cheap dollars and selling them with the volatile (unofficial) free market value of the dollar.
In no time, the prices of everything from nappies to spare parts for cars, from canned tomatoes to paper and tyres, multiplied 4 or 5 times on average.
Occasionally, the central bank injects or pretends to inject foreign currencies into the domestic market, bringing down the value of the dollar for less than a couple of days, before it soars again with renewed vigour.
After the many bankruptcies and scandalous corruptions of the financial institutions in 2017-18, the man in the street, disgusted by false promises and repression, does not believe any more in a word of what the authorities say.
The latter, desperate to find a cause for the financial chaos, blame the foreign hands – aka enemies’ plot – and the malicious rumours on social media. But they have nothing to offer to calm the market except threatening the exchange bureaux proprietors with imprisonment for “selling expensive dollars” (as if the owners had the power of fixing the market’s value), and finding a few heads outside the regime’s circles to cut.
The people are rightly convinced that it is better to have gold, foreign currencies, any long-lasting goods or a property than keeping a saving account in rials. The rush to buy foreign currencies further brings down the rial. This is a diabolical cycle that has no end.
Nothing can prevent the free fall of the rial. Least of all, the highly incompetent and corrupt yes-men who have run the country for the last decade, according to the Vali-e Faqih’s principles. And this includes all The Death to … slogans
The infallible Vali-e Faqih, Ali Khamenei, has no clue either. His pompous, but empty concept of “Economy of Resistance” is in the gutters. As Firouz Farzani wrote: Fathers of Ignorance are in Charge of Our Lives and the Environment.
As the rial falls against the dollar, the inflation soars. In the total absence of reliable statistics, the inflation rate could be anywhere in the range of 200-500%. Better to do one’s shopping now than leave it to later even for half a day.
For decades, financial institutions close to the power have run the economy, and fixed the interest rates too. These were slightly more than the inflation rate and gave the illusion of a workable domestic system. Cash and credit cards (only valid in Iran), and ATM networks embellished the illusion of a “modern banking system”. However, the economic system has been an empty shell for decades. As long as the people believed in the system and played by the rules, it worked.
Then comes the day that the regime, which has lost its legitimacy and credibility, has to scrape the bottom of the barrels in a desperate attempt to find money.
The oversea travel fees are quadrupling. Renewing one’s ID papers needs a wad of cash. Lately, prisoners condemned to floggings can pay an amount fixed by the judge to avoid it.
In the total absence of fraud laws, or unwilling to enforce the existing weak ones, the wholesalers and the retailers have field days. Anti-fraud laws are a mockery, since in order to cheat on a large scale, one has to be close to the circles of power. These guys are untouchable.
As the rial falls, suppliers hoard the goods (احتکار), retailers overprice (گرانفروشی), and the buyer pays cash on the nail, in a deal that can only be qualified as villainy.
The situation becoming explosive, the Friday preachers and university professors in economics, politics and social sciences find the root of the actual economic situation in the Shah ere, going back to the 1960s. The message runs in the lines of selfishness and greed started then, when the Shah called for land reform, or the abolition of the system of lordship and landlords. He did so to implement the US dictatorial programs in Iran.
Cut the Crap!
All of the profiteers, racketeers and extortioners have titles such as Hajji and Seyed and make large donations to the religious seminaries, or the local representative of the Leader in the provinces. The people are disgusted with the enormity of the jobbery and corruption that have brought Iran low for decades under the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Yet … nothing has taken shape to stop theocracy. Why?
Today, the inflation hits the pupils and students in the jaw: school and educational institutions have quadrupled their fees for the new term, which started on 23 September. The updated fees are in line with the fall of the rial, not only in private, but also in public schools (مدارس دولتی) run by the Ministry of Education. More, parents must pay for the school uniforms, books and supplies such as pens and notebooks.
A correspondent had this to say: As a taxi driver, I earn peanuts in rial. For my two children (aged 10 and 12), I have to rack up more than 6 million in fees and add 2-3 for the uniforms, books and paper. How would I pay the rent and the food? Or the petrol for my taxi?
He could not pay the fees. The children stayed home. They would join his wife selling cigarettes and chewing-gum on a tray in the streets, cleaning windscreens at traffic lights.
He could also take charge of a couple of mullahs and drop them, naked, in the desert between Tehran and Qom. They could walk home in the heat and dust, without water. And, if they prayed hard enough, Allah might send them some rain to drink.
Is it not the line they profess to the farmers that protest against the shortage of water? Pray to God and you’ll be rewarded …
In the 1960-70s, I was taught in governmental schools, in a backward provincial town. Once in a while my schoolmates and I had to cheer the Shah’s posters in propagandist gatherings. I loathed it, protested and paid for it. But … neither my parents nor the poorest parents of any schoolmates paid a school fee. Books were free. The school headteachers would find the money to buy school uniforms, pens and paper for those in need. The money came from the government and sometimes was topped by private donors.
Filthy lies and hypocrisy are paradigms for the Islamic Republic of Iran and their supporters. In 1978, Khomeini promised to deliver to every home its share of revenues from oil.
Today, poverty is fast spreading and no one has seen an official with a wad of banknotes at his doorstep, wishing him well … except … for the predators in the gangs, wearing the turban or the IRGC uniforms.
NB: The Iranian pilgrims who wish to visit the Shiite Holy Shrines in Iraq will buy a dollar at a fixed rate of 80,000 rials.
Spending lavishly for the Islamic propaganda at the expense of schoolchildren? Political Islam does not know what shame means, neither in Iran nor anywhere else.
Courage Is Doing What Fear Forbids One To Do
The idiotic Trumpian administration sees the Iranian regime as the root of all evils in the Middle-East. However, the foolish bombast of the Iranian officialdom toward the West and the USA is just as stupid.
Both parties raise their voices for domestic purposes, showing us how crackpots can steal leadership in any country and use them for their own interests.
Poverty, endemic corruption, pollution and water shortage will put an end to the theocratic regime in Iran, before any external factor may do.
The Iranian people have given little thought to what should replace the mullahs. The more the unrest grows and spreads, the more the rial falls and inflation rises, the less time is left to ponder on a vision.
The wisdom we needed to build a future might have been better found by enlisting imagination rather than dismissing it as we have done till now.
If we keep being the idiot that expects a Messiah to draw a new system for us, then we will end up with either John Bolton’s protégé, the Mojaheedin Khalgh, as the leaders of a new bloody regime, or, that little man, Reza Pahlavi, cheered by backward-looking fools, iranrevival. Both are disastrous and sorry prospects.
Moreover, another catastrophe is round the corner and has already showed its teeth.
Gunmen opened fire on an Iranian military parade in the south-western city of Ahwaz, killing at least 25 people, including civilians, and injuring 60.
The bed for such an attack is to be found in the plight of people in the Khuzestan province. Whoever was behind it knew how to exploit desperation and poverty.
The Ahwaz attack is not a bell ringing. It is a knell tolling for a possible civil war. If we, the Iranian people, do not wake up to its sound now, tomorrow, when the regime implodes, our country will be left to partisan groups fighting each other with the money and the guidance of anyone with an interest in fishing in murky waters. Isolated as we are, with the bitter taste of arrogance left by the future ex-theocracy, the list of interested people will be long.
A Message of Hope?
In the midst of the Black September in Iran, I found a message of hope: the lorry drivers pleading with teachers and workers to join them in their strike.
The lorry drivers have been on general strike for many months. It is the only countrywide protest known to us. All other protests are cellular and stay within a professional boundary, in medium-size towns and mostly the poorest provinces. Cellular protests eat up lots of energy, are not eye-catching and do not permit the exchange of ideas for larger protests. Besides, they are easier for the regime to crack down on and send the pacesetters to jail before hanging some.
Journalists and writers with the conscience and ideals of their work should share the same goal: freedom of expression. Then why do they keep separate protests? And why do they fight each other like cats and dogs?
The idea of joining forces is shaping up timidly. But it is still beyond general acceptance. In the latest protests, slogans inviting the joining of forces was spelled out by the lorry drivers, a group of professionals that visit the nooks and crannies of the country and talk to all and sundry. Their lifestyle makes them observant of events. They are more pragmatic than the wimpy academics in humanities trying to force a square tenon in a round hole when analysing Iranian politics and society.
SHOTOR DAR KHÂB BINAD PANBAH-DÂNAH! The camel dreams of cotton seeds, toddlers of Father Christmas, and I believe in miracles.
Would the schoolteachers or any other professionals with a conscience listen to the pragmatic drivers? And would it be possible that people, instead of searching for cons against each other, look to find pros in favour of listening to each other?
Courage is doing what fear forbids one to do, that is, joining forces, for a start. The key in finding a solution to the Iranian bedlam lies in the hands of the people acting in concert, never resigning. A miracle!