Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Latest from Iran (23 December): Ahmadinejad on Economy "Everyone is Wrong Except Me"

0758 GMT: All the President's Men. A photograph of two of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial senior advisors --- Ali Akbar Javanfekr, released on Thursday from prison on a medical furlough, is visited by Saeed Mortazavi, still wanted by some MPs for his alleged role in the abuse and killing of protesters after the disputed 2009 Presidential election.

0755 GMT: Economy Watch. Iran's Statistics Center reports that more than 800,000 farm workers have lost their jobs during President Ahmadinejad's seven years in office.

0715 GMT: As expected, President Ahmadinejad used a suddenly-called TV appearance on Saturday night to defend --- and try to save his subsidy cuts programme. The centrepiece of Ahmadinejad's economic approach, finally launched in December 2010, has been stalled this year, as Parliament has refused to approve a second phase and the initiative has been blamed for Iran's inflation, falling production, and currency crisis.

Ahmadinejad was having none of this on Saturday. Although he was "pretty mild" in opening comments, he soon went on the offensive. His subsidy cuts had been successful. They had not caused inflation, which was "a structural matter" of the "past 40 to 50 years". Other problems had been caused by "external pressures" --- the sanctions which the President had dismissed earlier this year as no more than "tissue paper".

Most interesting was the President's invocation of "domestic abuse" as the primary challenge to his success. Although he did not name the abusers, an EA correspondent offered a list of suspects --- Revolutionary Guards, Parliament, the Supreme Leader's office, and clerics.

And for those who revel in irony, there was this moment to savour. Ahmadinejad --- possibly giving cover to the likely campaign of his controversial right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai --- warned of those who might interfere in the June 2013 Presidential election: The will of people should be respected in elections --- it will have international ramifications."

from EA WorldView: EA Iran

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