Iran in the News: The Economy, Domestic Politics, Human RightsOctober 12, 2010
In a radical move that slipped below our radar until just a few minutes ago, NSN issued a statement saying that they’re restricting their business activities in the country.
Citing credible reports from outside sources and a meeting with Iranian human rights lawyer Dr. Shirin Ebadi, NSN has said that they stopped all work at their monitoring centers in Iran in as early as 2009, and that the company even sold off their monitoring center division. NSN has also said that before they even conducted business in Iran they should have understood the political landscape a little better.
Source: Voice of America
Deputy Secretary Steinberg emphasized that “a nuclear armed Iran would severely threaten the security and stability of a part of the world crucial to our interests and the health of the global economy. As a consequence,” he said, “we believe that the international community should collectively abandon a business-as-usual-approach toward Iran.”
The list of companies cutting business ties with Iran is growing. Four major international oil companies –- Total of France, Satoil of Norway, Eni of Italy, and Royal Dutch Shell of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands – have pledged to end their investments in Iran’s energy sector. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said there is a growing understanding that the Government of Iran is using revenues from its energy sector to fund its suspect nuclear program, and is using procurement for its energy sector to mask the purchase of dual-use items:
October 10, 2010 – After suppressing the political protests that followed last year’s disputed presidential election, Iran’s security forces are now on the alert for a new kind of domestic threat — strikes and civil unrest provoked by planned cuts in fuel subsidies.
Top police officials have issued a series of warnings this month against the threat of an overflow of tensions following the cuts, which some fear could set off a chain reaction of price increases and economic hardships in a country already stricken by high inflation and widespread unemployment.
“The freeing up of prices has created worries in society, and this is of great importance to us,” the police chief for Tehran, Hossein Sajednia, told union and guild leaders on Thursday, insisting that security was essential for economic prosperity.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
October 12, 2010 – Iran’s economy is under increasing strain four months after the latest international sanctions against Tehran, say Iranian businessmen, traders and consumers, who describe spreading pain from inflation, joblessness and mounting shortages.
In interviews from within Iran, these people paint a picture of unsteady supply chains and disrupted exports. Ordinary Iranians say they worry they will be caught paying more for goods and services even as the government trims subsidies.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seen above in a Beirut billboard ahead of his Lebanon visit this week, has said sanctions will only make Iran more self-sufficient.
Iran’s Central Bank hasn’t released official gross domestic product, inflation and other data for three years. But anecdotally, these Iranians say, weaknesses in their economy appear to have been magnified since June, when the United Nations, European Union and U.S. began stepping up measures aimed at deterring Tehran’s nuclear program.
“Every morning, we go to work wondering how we will manage the day,” says Gholam Hossein, a Tehran brick-factory owner. “The market is chaotic and unpredictable. One day we can’t move our goods from the port. Another day we can’t open a letter of credit.”
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 11 (UPI) — Leaders of the secular Iraqiya slate in Iraq spoke of Iran’s political meddling during talks in Riyadh, a spokesman for the party said.
Iraqiya won the March 7 election in Iraq by two seats but fell well short of the 163-seat majority needed to form a ruling government. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, is within sight of the coveted majority following support from his former rivals in the political party loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr.
Haidar al-Mulla, a spokesman for Iraqiya, told the Voices of Iraq news agency that Iraqiya leader and former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi met with key leaders in Saudi Arabia during the weekend to discuss the Iranian role in Iraq’s political affairs.
Iranian filmmaker and journalist Mohammad Nourizad has written an open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei arguing that the United States does more to protect religious freedom and moral values than Iran, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports.
Nourizad — who has been in Tehran’s Evin prison since August — wrote in his letter on October 10 that since Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election, violations of people’s privacy has become more common.
He said religious mobs have attacked the home of Ayatollah Yusef Sanei, a critic of Khamenei. In the United States, by contrast, he said personal privacy is strictly protected by law.
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s leader issued a decree that paves the way for a state takeover of the country’s largest private university, in a crushing blow to the nation’s moderates.
The Islamic Azad University is the centre of power for former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a pragmatist and key supporter of Iran’s moderates. The institution, which was founded in 1982, was a major site for opposition protests against the 2009 disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which opponents say was fraudulent.
But on Monday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a decree declaring the university’s endowment — which keeps it financially independent — to be religiously illegitimate and therefore null and void.
The endowment, or vaqf in Farsi, was set up in 2009, shortly after the elections by the university board to keep the it independent in the face of the rising power of hard-liners in the ruling system.
(Reuters) – An explosion at an Iranian military training base injured several servicemen on Tuesday, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The cause of the blast, at a base in Khoramabad in western Iran, was not given. IRNA said several soldiers were taken to hospital but did not say how many were hurt or how seriously.
Last month a bomb killed 12 people and injured 80 in the city of Mahabad which authorities blamed on “anti-revolutionary” militants backed by Iran’s foreign enemies.
(CNN) — As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the U.N. General Assembly in New York last month, the spotlight was once again on Iran. And true to form, the Iranian president made his fair share of provocative statements for the Western media.
But while Ahmadinejad’s mercurial rants captured our media’s attention, back in Iran a coordinated strategy against the women’s movement continued.
On the eve of Ahmadinejad’s arrival to New York, Shiva Nazar Ahari, a prominent young female defender of human rights, received a heavy sentence of six years in prison on charges including the vague crime of “waging war against God” — a convenient catch-all offense for anyone who criticizes the regime and its human rights record.
There’s no denying it — Iran’s women have had a bad year. Nazar Ahari joins a steadily increasing number of other women’s rights activists who are in prison for no greater crime than their attempt to fight for the rights of the women.
Source: Radio Farda
World Economic Forum director Klaus Schwab notes in an accompanying statement that gender equality is important not only on moral grounds, but also has tremendous value in terms of economic prosperity.
He says low gender gaps are directly linked to economic competitiveness, and the full use of women’s talents in the workforce is necessary if a country is to grow and prosper.
By the same measures, two countries which are doing notably badly are Iran and Pakistan. Iran occupies 123rd place, only 11 spots from the bottom of the list.
The tables show that Iranian women earn on average only one-third the amount males earn. They are virtrualy absent from the ranks of legislators, senior officials, and managers.
Two German reporters have been arrested in Iran after trying to interview the lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who has been condemned to death by stoning. The case is likely to cause diplomatic tension between Germany and Iran.
Even without the ongoing tensions between the West and Iran, the case would have all the ingredients for a political thriller. But given the current political climate, the arrest of two German reporters, alleged by Iran to have entered the country without the requisite journalist visas, looks set to cause a diplomatic row between Berlin and Tehran.
Official statements from Iran say that the two journalists were arrested on Sunday evening in the office of Houtan Kian, the lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who has been condemned to death by stoning. The journalists were interested in interviewing the lawyer in the presence of Ashtiani’s son. The authorities have accused the journalists of fraudulently entering the country as tourists without the proper working visas. For Iran, the case is politically sensitive because the planned stoning of Ashtiani for alleged adultery has sparked international protests.
“These [four] companies have provided assurances to us that they have stopped or are taking significant verifiable steps to stop their activity in Iran and have provided assurances not to undertake new energy-related activity in Iran that may be sanctionable.”