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Who Is Behind The Bazaar Strike?



In a recent article, we said since the creation of the Islamic Republic in Iran, Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad is the “strongest president the co0untry never had, much stronger than his predecessor, the moderate Mohammad Khatami or even Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, considered as the most powerful man of the regime after the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i”.

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Paris, 17 Oct. (IPS)         In a recent article, we said since the creation of the Islamic Republic in Iran, Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad is the “strongest president the co0untry never had, much stronger than his predecessor, the moderate Mohammad Khatami or even Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, considered as the most powerful man of the regime after the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i”.

          For some pundit inside Iran, it is the radical wing of the clergy that takes most of the important decisions, in foreign or domestic policies, expressing their will through the mouth of Mr. Khameneh’i, who is nothing but “a puppet” in their hands.

          Others insists that Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad, a “child of the revolution and a member of the Revolutionary Guards”, this military institution, established as the Praetorian Guard of the ruling clergy, has replaced the clerical institution as the most powerful and influential corps of decision-making.

Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad has brought a number of revolutionary commanders into the politics.

          And as a proof to their claim, they cite the unprecedented warning of the President to some influential ayatollahs to not trespass the limits of their responsibilities. “We do respect all great maraje’ (sources of imitation, or grand ayatollahs), but everyone must bear in mind that the Government has its policies, its responsibilities. What Mr. Rahim Mosha’i has said is the word of the Government…”,. Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad had reiterated on 18 September, in the course of a press conference, referring to the controversy surrounding the vice-President in charge of Tourism and Cultural Heritage.

          Mr. Esfandiar Rahim Mosha’i is accused of a “sin” that in Iran of the ayatollahs is synonymous for heresy: That of having dared to say that “Iranians are friends of the Israel people”.

          “Iranians are proud to have no enemy. Proud of being friends with all people in the world, including the Americans and the Israelis”, the vice-President, -- who’s daughter is married to the son of Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad – had said two months ago during a conference on tourism.

          Not only has he resisted pressures from the powerful clergy, but also the Majles, the press, the Judiciary, and according to some reliable sources, even the leader himself.

Ahmadi Nezhad-3
Ahmadi Nezhad is reported to have even rebuffed the Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khammeneh'i

          On economic front, he has introduced several unpopular, but necessary, measures, including cutting huge state subsidies to fuel and some other commodities that for centuries, have always been heavily subsidized by the State.

          But his last decision, to impose value added tax, was the drop too much, as it provoked the anger of the Bazaar, the traditional economic nerve of the nation, the “usual” ally of the clergy, a “conservative” political force and since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the principal support of the governments.

          As soon as the authorities started to implement the new measures, jewelers in the bazaar of the touristic city of Esfahan, in central Iran, closed shops. The action quickly spread to other major cities like Shiraz, Tabriz, Mash-had and to Tehran, forcing the Government to back off. “The application of the VAT to bazaaris and other merchants and shopkeepers is suspended provisory, but not its introduction”, the Finance and Economy Ministry said in a communiqué on 15 October.

          Actually, except those working for the government, in State-owned institutions and big factories, where treasury takes ”automatically” ten per cent of the salary as tax, Iranians do not pay any taxes, or if they do, like in middle size or small factories and shops, it is a fraction of what is earned.

In an effort to find out “a qui profite le crime?” (to whom crime profits?), highly informed sources points to the Revolutionary Guards.

          But as the bazaar is opening, the question which is on everyone’s lip is to know which power pushed the bazaari to go on strike, and for what reason?

          In an effort to find out “a qui profite le crime?” (to whom crime profits?), highly informed sources points to the Revolutionary Guards.

          In fact, they point out, the introduction of the VAT would for the first time force all Iranians, all shops, all firms, all institutions to declare their sources of revenues, including the Revolutionary Guards, which, besides its military vocation, also is a huge economic constructing enterprise, to which the Government of Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad had allocated the execution of a number of major projects.

          “It is an open secret that the Guards operates several smaller ports alongside the Persian Gulf, have their own landing lanes in all Iranian airports and their own entry points at all borders with neighbouring nations, importing in total illegality and outside any control from the authorities all kinds of goods, duty free, and selling them on the market, making huge profits”, one source explained.

          If the VAT is really applied, the main looser would be the Guards and all the people, from senior commanders to single soldier who profits from this huge smuggling operation. Hence the interest of the Guards in killing the VAT project. And if this is correct, does it mean a divorce between Mr. Ahmadi Nezjad with the Guards, the militaries he brought into the politics? Bazaar strike 171008

         

 


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