Thursday, March 22, 2007

New Year and New Direction

Yesterday we began to celebrate the Iranian New Year 1386. The customary Nourooz greeting of wishing everyone a happy and prosperous year was particularly meaningful this year. I am not all that certain if Iran will have happy or prosperous days ahead. In 1385, the Ahmadinejad administration did all it could to channel people’s energy in supporting the country’s uranium enrichment program. In the process, the government all but ignored major issues facing the country internally and isolated the country externally, to a degree unprecedented in modern history of Iran.

People are discontent, and the government is incapable of offering any solutions except the crackdown of any protest movement. Teachers want higher pay. The government arrests 1,000 protesting teachers in front of Majlis on the eve of Nourooz. Women want changes in gender-based discriminatory laws in matters of divorce, child custody and inheritance. The government arrests 33 women activists on the eve of the International Women’s Day. The students call for freedom and the bus drivers ask for higher pay. The government arrests their leaders. Ahmadinejad’s answer to social discontent is to show off force.

Externally, the increasing isolation of the country is becoming unbearable. The world will not recognize our national rights, including the right to nuclear energy, under this government. The threat of a military attack might have been exaggerated, but the choking effects of the tightening economic sanctions are real. The blacklisting of Iranian banks and the refusal of Western financial institutions to conduct business with Iranian corporations and individuals are the start of a long process that might end in an embargo on Iranian oil. Under this government, the enrichment of uranium is not achievable; the impoverishment of the country is! The country needs a new direction.

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