Friday, July 8, 2011

Trade Sanctioning a Nation of Traders

by Amir Taheri

The word bazaar understood around the world, irrespective of language, describes so much more than a place to come and buy something. It brings thoughts of haggling, bargain finding, tough negotiation, and avoiding being conned. Persians are known for their famous bazaars (where this word originates). The one in Tehran is the largest in the world stretching out for miles. Any visitor to Iran will note that Iran's shopping experience is an interesting one. Large department stores are almost not existent and only now starting to pick up in popularity and growth. Iran is dominated by mostly "mom and pop shops" - small family businesses that specialize in a certain product. As in the ancient bazaar where an entire row of stalls specialize in selling one type of thing, so are modern shops on most Iranian streets today organized. You will find one entire street selling consumer electronics, jewelry, or furniture. A large percentage of Iran's population are in this way; self-employed.

If there was a prize given out for a country that hast the most sanctions placed on it, Iran would get it hands down. Almost everything is somehow sanctioned, barred, or classified as a dual use item and banned to be sold to Iran. At times a company or entity is sanctioned multiple times. Where there is not currently a sanction, countries use the bully and shame method to push companies from doing business with Iran. Lately, the US is going after foreign shipping firms that ship to Iran's ports. There has been fear that many essential food items like wheat, corn, and sugar could be effected. Planes and plane parts are banned to Iran if it contains an American firms involvement, which translates to almost all plane manufactures (including Russian since they recently use American engine parts). Even items like medical MRI and CT scanners are banned under the "dual civilian military use" definition.

If these multi-layer sanctions were to be effective than Iran would have to look very different than it does today. Unlike countries like, Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Syria, Iraq, and Sudan, Iran today has a very active economy that trades with many countries. As pressure from Europe and America has increased, business from Iran has migrated to China, Turkey, and Latin American countries. Iran's trade with China as of late has past $30 billion and is set to mark $50 in a few years. Iran's trade with Turkey is also on the rise anticipated to pass $10 billion this year. Walk into any shop in Iran and you will be amazed by the selection of products and items from around the world, even in your local grocery the times the size of a walk in closet. In one tally recently, I found soft drinks from as far as South Korea, China, and Argentina. European and American chocolate bars are brought from Dubai and other Arabic countries (as the Arabic text states). Even ready to make meals from Europe are sold but with Turkish text. Actually, I found not one product that I needed NOT offered in Iran, whether it was American, European or Asian.

Search in any shop in Iran's bazaar and you will find with high probability one item that is not for sale. Wether it is the first carpet woven by the shop, or that antique item that has been past down by each of the previous owners of the shop, the shop owner will always guide you to another "better" item in his offerings. As your eyes wander back to that jewel of a piece, he will quickly push you in another direction where a new set of hand made silk carpets are laid out. You think to yourself, "was that first eye catcher really that nice?" You wonder, is that item just there to tempt me to want it more? As you convince yourself otherwise and head out of the bazaar with your new silk carpet, you have that nagging feeling growing inside, "was I just conned"?

As one European diplomat once said about the nuclear negotiations with Iran, and its difficulty he stated that the talks with the Iranians are always tough. He went on further by saying, "while we are playing checkers, the Iranians are playing chess". So have the sanctions against Iran been effective? It depends on a prior question being answered; effective for whom? While you are thinking on this question, take a flight on Mahan's recently purchased sparkling Airbus planes, continue to think on the question while you play on your new Ipad 2 bought in any of Iran's many electronic shops, and relax and zip up your Abercrombie sweater before landing in Tehran's airport.

Editor’s Note: Amir Taheri is one of the authors of Uskowi on Iran. His weekly columns appear here on Fridays.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another Amir Tahir's classics. As i keep saying on this blog, a country of 70+ million people whose very history is built on trade and all the tricks of trade in bazaars cannot be sanctioned. I tend to have a feeling the US will eventually sanction itself out off the ME for good. The futility of the whole Iran sanctions regime is that, almost all that is sanctioned in the West, Iran can obtain from the East. A recent trip to Malaysia almost blew my socks off. Lots of Iranian flights landing at KLIA with lots of Iranians either on vacation or business trips. There's even been an upsurge in Iranian restaurants all over in Kuala Lumpur. What even bugged me even more was how some Iranians I met who hate IRI so much and don't hesitate to tell you all the doom and gloom stories about the Iranian government and Iran, feel so comfortable living in another Islamic state called Malaysia - the irony! There, Iranian small-time businessmen take advantage of the latest sanctions to buy the latest gadgets in town in bulk at an astonishingly cheap price as compared to buying the same product in the west, to sell back home. One may ask, what has an ipad got to do with nuclear program? This wan't the case when i lived there 8 years ago. Talk about the west shooting themsleves in the foot. All that business could have been going on in their capitals - now Eastern countries are cashing in. a country of 70+ million people whose very history is built on trade and all the tricks of trade in bazaars cannot be sanctioned. I tend to have a feeling the US will eventually sanction itself out off the ME for good. The futility of the whole Iran sanctions regime is that, almost all that is sanctioned in the West, Iran can obtain from the East. A recent trip to Malaysia almost blew my socks off. Lots of Iranian flights landing at KLIA with lots of Iranians either on vacation or business trips. There's even been an upsurge in Iranian restaurants all over in Kuala Lumpur. What even bugged me even more was how some Iranians I met who hate IRI so much and don't hesitate to tell you all the doom and gloom stories about the Iranian government and Iran, feel so comfortable living in another Islamic state called Malaysia - the irony! There, Iranian small-time businessmen take advantage of the latest sanctions to buy the latest gadgets in town in bulk at an astonishingly cheap price as compared to buying the same product in the west, to sell back home. One may ask, what has an ipad got to do with nuclear program? This wan't the case when i lived there 8 years ago. Talk about the west shooting themsleves in the foot. All that business could have been going on in their capitals - now Eastern countries are cashing in.

Anonymous said...

It put a smile on my face.

good one..

Anonymous said...

Love these articles that uniformely praise Iran in the face of santions and gear Iran's success by having shops full of second rate goods from odd countries.

yes tooth-paste from South Korea, almost tasteless bannas from Ecuador. Cheap consumer goods from China by way of Turkey (add the additional cost). Most of these products you can only find in 1$ stall markets in Europe.

The question was put:

" So have the sanctions against Iran been effective?"

Well depends on how deep is your pocket. If you are an average Governemt employee with an income of 500-600K tomans, 400-500 US dollars, you have no chance of affording these goods. Recent estimates (see article on this matter in this website), put the poverty line in Iran at 40% and absolute poverty line at 23%. So as much as we like to believe the bravado about how good Iran is against sanctions (well petrol dollar with 80% of Governemt income coming from oil export (Cuba, North Korea, Syria etc mentioned in the article do not have this luxury), sadly we have to accept the fact that the sanctions have been effective and the price for this is paid by the average Iranian who has to earn Rial and spend dollars.

Even the government is aware of the problem the offices operete between (7:30 till 14:00) (in practice between 8:00 till 1). This is supposed to allow the employees to have a secondary job (often minicab moonlighting) to supplement their meager income. We all like to believe our own headlines but the realities are very different to what what is projected in these articles.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:14am, there are those who will always be negative regardless of anything poitive happening in Iran. They'll rather Iran be miserably poor nation with no hope. The article was about the author's own personal account or experience of what he's seen in Iran. Maybe u see things differently - but that's ur cup of tea. Not all Iranians are as sad and gloomy as you. With all the magical figures you've quoted here about poor Iranians, which country in the world don't have people living in poverty? At least u can back up all thise figures with some sources to make them a bit more credible. Sorry, but we don't buy your attempt to make us believe Iran's in chaos and therefore we should all run for our lives.ss of anything poitive happening in Iran. They'll rather Iran be miserably poor nation with no hope. The article was about the author's own personal account or experience of what he's seen in Iran. Maybe u see things differently - but that's ur cup of tea. Not all Iranians are as sad and gloomy as you. With all the magical figures you've quoted here about poor Iranians, which country in the world don't have people living in poverty? At least u can back up all thise figures with some sources to make them a bit more credible. Sorry, but we don't buy your attempt to make us believe Iran's in chaos and therefore we should all run for our lives.

Anonymous said...

I think this article gets 10 out of 10 for making me feel good and 3 out of 10 for anything factual.

If the question is "has sanctions been effective", then the answer has to lie in the fact that the same items or equivalent are imported at additional cost (i.e yes). The banks cannot function or are very limited through dealing with their foreign counterparts. So all these Bazar merchants have to obtain their goods through wholesellers that go through money exchange (sarrafs) 90% of the time via Turkey paying an arms and leg for dollars, euros and sterling. The retailers or in this case the bazaries or Asnaf simply pass the hike on currency to the customer. The outcome is the poor consumer that has to pay for often inferior quality goods at higher prices!

If the objective was for Iranians to play Chess, then regretably they are the losers. A good chess player would have worked around a formula to avoid 4-5 round of sanctions against Iran.

Someone mentioned that Malaysia is a popular destination for Iranians. I guess it is popular because Malaysia does not require visa for Iranians. So the poor Iranian has a choice of Malaysia in addition to Turkey, Armenia, Turkmanestan, Syria, Azerbajan etc. Marvelous choice.

Howv about high tech? Due to sanctions Iranian oil and gas fields are years behind their counterparts. Look at Qatar with the help of high tech from US/Europe has been exporting gas for years and Iran (unfortunately)is still trying to find someone to invest and develop these fields. Japanese pulled out. Russians pulled out and Chinese simply do not have the know how to take on the task.

Anonymous said...

Another excellent and FACTUAL article by Amir. Well done and keep on rolling out the TRUTH.

Another historical perspective is that Iran was the pioneering nation that opened up the Silk Route to the east, namely China and current trade patterns reflect the same trend. History has come full circle in 3000 years.

Iran is too big to sanction, specially by a deadbeat declining nation like the US which hardly has anything to offer.

In any case, Iran's domestic consumer base is huge with over 75 million people and the "Iran Vision 2025" economic strategic plan focused highly on creating a mass class of entrepreuners linked to a domestic supply chain and economic diversification.

Iran, as Amir has astutely pointed out already has a huge and resourceful mercantile "bazari" class deeply embedded in its commercial soul. The Iranian diaspora of 3-4 million has also helped in deflecting the pathetic 'sanctions" which have hurt economic basketcases of US and EU more. Boeing aircraft alone has lost over $40 billion worth of potential business with Iran. The total loss to the US trade may well be in excess of $300 billion since 1979 (military purchases excluded).

Iran has open land borders with at least 7 contiguous neighbouring nations and well over 3400 sq kms of land borders and commercial transit points, not to mention gigantic shadow over the Persian Gulf and Caspian. No one in their right mind could think that they could "isolate" Iran.

Even Cuba, barely 60 miles south of Florida and with only 4 million people in 1959 and around 11 million now with barely any natural resources could NOT be broken by US sanctions, let alone Iran. BTW, Cuba despite over 50 years of US total embargo still managed to develop better medical access for its citizens than the US and Cuba also ranks higher than the US on all HDI (Human Development Index) indicators from total health coverage to lower infant mortality for its "sanctioned" population. The Castro brothers are still in power despite even the ex-USSR dissolving and cutting off all aid in 1992.

Iran is sitting atop one of the world's massive energy resources and the most sensitive geo-strategic fault-line, so unless the US and its Zionist masters are totally hooked on the Afghani brown stuff, they have ZERO chance of bringing Iran to heel with these delusional "sanctions". Stuart Levy, the Zionist in-charge of Treasury sanctions regime even quit last year in view of the futilty of these sanctions.

In real terms, Iran's trade with all its trading partners in Asia, and even EU has grown exponentially. Trade with US occupied Iraq is about to hit $20 billion or half of the Turkey figure. The main Asian trading partners China, India, etc are hardly amenable to US dictates.

Iran's economic future is bright despite all the impediments. I hope the usual Iran bashers read Amir's factual on the scene reporting objectively and reflect upon it and also have a tinge of pride at Iran's success and dignity in holding firm in protecting its national interests.

Anonymous said...

the post offers an utter shallow and simply silly look at sanctions and what they represent.
Iran's regime is widely loathed and teetering on the edge while Amir Tahir echoes their hollow boast of how clever they are to still be maintaining some balance with one foot already over.

Anonymous said...

Yea, you basijis are right. By sanctioning Iran, the US and the Zionist have doomed themselves.
Lets keep paying billions to the clever Russians who maybe finish a 3:rd rate Nuclear plant for Iran in 10 years time (Lets hope it doesn't blow up then) and give the oil for free to the Indians and import Chinese rugs and Walnuts and ....
Pay the North Koreans to give the Mullah's the copies of the copy of the 1950 and 1960 Russian missile technology. Import Petrol from Venezuela and pay them 3 times more the market price. We Iranians are so GOOD at Chess !! The Bazaris that Mr Taheri is praising are the leeches sucking the blood of this nation collaborating with the IRGC and the Mullah's in order to keep their vested interest and their monopolies. This regime doesn't need any external enemies. They are doing a very good job themselves digging their own graves. It is just a matter of time!

Anonymous said...

Loads of rubbish. This is not the ordinary Iranians reality. The Ipad2 and flying Mahan's "new airbuses" (They are not new. Minimum 10-12 years old) Mr Taheri please let us know in your next article about the reality of the working class Iranians.
The poverty line, the rate of drug addiction. The divorce rate. Child poverty.
Finding those items is not a surprise to anyone judging the rate of smuggling in Iran by (baradarane ghachaghchi !) Tell us who can afford to buy them ?

Anonymous said...

Salam my doost...
I love the article!! Keep them coming...you're a natural when it comes to candid honest opinion on what's going on. No better way of putting it.

Your Malaysian doost. ;)

Anonymous said...

Comparing Iran with countries like Qatar, Kuwait and the likes in the oil/gas sectors is just plain silly...These countries barely produce anything in their own country and heavily rely on EU/US companies to do almost everything for them. They'll eat sand when their oil runs out.

Iran's not paradise but at least they've managed under sanctions to build/building their oil/gas industry, however low tech it may be. The West will NEVER allow these Arab countries to have the technology to even drill a water bore hole as that reduces their leverage on them. As a matter of fact, they wouldn't survive a year if they're under the same sanctions as Iran.

And to think Iran is under 5 sets of sanctions because they're losers is not looking at the big picture. Facts is, the west will sanction Iran anyway regardless of what Iran does. The "reformists" in Iran tried but not even a single sanction was lifted so it's useless to even try to please them. What they demand from Iran is total surrender and nothing else. It's only a fool who doesn't see the decline of Western powers. Their economies have now been reduced to service based economies(hair dressers, waiters, insurance bankers etc). They produce virtually nothing anymore. All these wars they're fighting in the ME and Africa is just to help secure their economies which depends heavily on oil - nothing to do with freedom and democracy.

The future lies in the East and Iran is better served by pursuing close relationship in that part of the world than the West.

Anonymous said...

Annon 1:39 PM & 1:51 PM, you're a very sad person. Name one country in the world that have all their economy in shape, no drug addicts, poor families etc.

The US(so called economic super power) is in TRILLIONS of debt and still counting with no end in sight. If they're so smart, how come they're in so much debt? The Chinese have them by their balls and they know it. The EU is under huge economic pressure and almost disintegrating. If these countries are what you look up to, then I'm sorry for you.

With people like you, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Anonymous said...

Well, to put things into perspective, Iran seems to be doing better than Britain at war in 1940-41, and better than FSU (former Soviet Union) following regime change and loss in the Cold War.

There will always be a matter of unfulfilled potential during a war, even a cold one.

A hot war and cold war, replete with economic warfare, has been waged against Iran for over 30 years. Even when Iran signalled its willingness to surrender in 2003, it was ignored. So there's no choice but to grin and bear it. Amir, who is in Iran, chooses to grin, while others here in the comments section, outside of Iran, do not. That says a lot, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

One particular "Anonymous" seems to dedicate his life to making multiple dergatory posts with very little hard evidence. He has been active in previous threads by the same author, making the same arguments. Two comments are especially illustrative, referring to non Western goods as "cheap" and denigrating non Western tourist destinations as somehow less desirable. This illustrates his basic argument, namely, that the West is inherently superior, anything produced by Western countries is inherently superior to anything produced by Eastern countries, and that connections to the West are to be pursued at all costs. Of course, a majority of Iranians, and those in many other countries, disagree with this attitude.

His factual arguments also fail. His poverty figures are exaggerated, and his claim that "Iran imports gas from Venezuela" is absurd. Iran is now exporting gas to Iraq and other countries, and its gas refining capacity is expanding rapidly. Eastern countries are happily investing in Iranian gas and oil production and exploration, and doing a better job than the Western companies they recently replaced. As stated previously, the IMF itself has acknowledged the effectiveness of Iran's economic policy. In addition, Iranian non petroleum exports are surging, and will surpass $50 billion dollars a year in a few years if they continue to expand at the current rate.

Although Iran is far from perfect, it today has a stronger economy than any US Middle Eastern puppet government, and its economy is also growing faster, and is basically stronger, than any of those US puppet regimes. If development is based on having unimpeded access to export, why can't Saudi Arabia manufacture anything, and why is the economy wholly dependent on handouts from its oil profits?

Anonymous said...

----....his claim that "Iran imports gas from Venezuela" is absurd.------


ABSURD??????

FARS NEWS AGENCY Sept 14, 2009

--Venezuela to Export 20,000 Barrels of Gasoline to Iran per Day---

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8806231474

Anonymous said...

Right so the poverty figures are exaggerated! Unless you are ignorant you cannot ignore the following report (BTW, it was not written by US or Zionist paid agents although we can always blame them).

To the last annon July 8, 2011 5:29 PM, I am sure you are Amir Taheri who is writing as anon defending his own silly article. Never mind, back to poverty figures:

“44.5% to 55% of Iran’s urban population lives under the poverty line, according to a report entitled ‘Measurement and Economic Analysis of Urban Poverty.’ The paper was presented by three senior government researchers at a conference organized by the national statistics center (Markazeh amareh Iran). The study provides a rare statistical glimpse into the country’s economic welfare. The authors determined that at least 23.3 million city dwellers are under the poverty line and cannot subsist on their households’ incomes. Iran’s rural population was not included in the report. The researchers found that the average poverty line for urban households with 3.7 members is 653,000 tomans (about $650) a month if normal goods are consumed. Tehran province had the highest poverty line, 813,000 tomans (near $800) a month. Using this gauge, 55% of the country’s city dwellers are under the poverty line.

So I guess you should tell these people about the sanction beating techniques of bazaries who have managed to replace soft drinks from the original souces with the equivalent ones from South Korea. Of course for them it does not matter what they sell, ass long as they sell it. The loser is the consumer that has to pay an arms and a leg on top of the usual prices often for crap goods.

The sanctions are costing Iran in the region of $60 billion in lost energy inverstment. (source:
http://www.iranenergyproject.org/2342/sanctions-cost-iran-60-billion-in-oil-investments).

In addition inter-bank transactions between Iranian Banks and their foreign counterparts is almost non existant.

This is not scare mongering. These are facts. Otherwise we can always blame US/Zionists/Europe/Russia and anyone else for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Readers should not confuse the author of this post "Amir Taheri" who apparently lives in Iran with another Amir Taheri who is also originally Iranian and has written books on the Middle East, Iran and Islam. He has been a syndicated columnist for some American, British, and Middle Eastern publications and is currently writing for the New York Post. See a posting on him in Wikipedia specially the part on his "alleged fabrication". It seems that fabrication is the key word here too !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amir_Taheri#Alleged_fabrications

jimi said...

there if I do not understand anything, such states may continue to rise unisdos debt is debt last if I say that these have a sleeve az, American citizens are missing out on drugs because of their government let people in my country (Mexico) to sell them as drug boats here in my country are killed by the sale and distribution of drugs for the American Union, with which weapons? with manufacturing on the other side, note that the U.S. intelligence minds that make the tegnologia are pure foreign increasingly contribullen amercicanos perhaps they are Cando this drug all the processes in Iran is booming ostigamiento despite the West, for they want the U.S. if you have the Chinese market with a long plasma garantisable potentially worth noting that in early 1200 million Chinese multiplicads mouths for 1 in 10 20 or 30 years will serun ah good business.

Unknown Unknowns said...

Dear Amir Taheri:
It was a good post. However, in my humbling opinion, the real story behind the sanctions is WHY Iran is being sanctioned. And the answer to that question is simply that since its revolution 32 years ago, Iran has refused to shoulder the yoke of US/ Israeli hegemony in the region.

It is a grotesque tragedy what these countries have done and continue to do to Iran. Iran is in good shape, and getting stronger every day. But all you have to do is imagine how much better Iran would be had the US recognized Iran's sovereignty and normalized its relations with her.

But that's OK. To hell with the US and that even more outrageous country, Israel. In the early days of the revolution, it was Iran and Syria against the rest of the Middle East, the US & Israel. Now look at the map: With the turning Eastward of Turkey's gaze since they finally cottoned on(after 50 years) that the EU is just yanking their chain and after the Israeli massacre without apology of the Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara, and with Egypt's recent uprisings, what we have is the whole of the Middle East against the US/ Israel/ Saudi Arabia axis (one that can truly be called evil).

The tide has turned. Look for more and more scientific, industrial, trade and diplomatic breakthroughs in the months and years ahead for Iran, and more and more desperate and despicable actions from the True Axis of Evil.

May God rid the middle east and the world of these desperado barbarians once and for all. Ameen.

TheDonkeyInTheWell said...

There is an anonymous here trolling to his heart's delight.

He referred to “The Foundation for Defense of Democracies” as a source.

On their webpage they state: “The Foundation for Defense of Democracies promotes energy sanctions on Iran as part of a comprehensive strategy to pressure the Iranian regime to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, support for terrorism, and brutal oppression of its own people.”

Yeah, that seems like a legit source. Now, who would bother with such sources?

And it continuous!
The goals of the project are: (1) to put significant economic pressure on the Iranian regime by denying it revenue from its energy sector; (2) to advance the policy discussion to impose crippling sanctions against the Iranian regime; (3) to shift public perception of the nature and gravity of the Iranian threat by highlighting Iran's hostile and repressive policies; and, (4) to encourage policymakers to consider stronger punitive measures if sanctions fail.

You refer to an organization that openly acknowledge that they're doing everything in their power to hurt Iran and then turn around and without shame and with a straight face blame Iran for its short comings?

--Oh, the irony.

And he won't stop. The troll keeps repeating “don’t blame USA/Zionists” (yeah, from where would one get a silly idea like that). Anyone with basic understanding of Iranian history, and regardless if they like Iran or not cannot deny these nations blame. They've done everything in their power to terrorize ordinary Iranians.

Gee, give it a rest.

Amir Taheri said...

Hey TheDonkeyintheWell,

Get ready to be accused of being me! I most likely have created you just so I can respond to him. wait for it, wait for it....

Anonymous said...

This article just makes me laugh. The author sees sanction busting by having bazar filled with consumer goods from the alternative sources. However, that is no indication of sanction busting.

Iran’s economy is now more vulnerable. Oil and gas, its greatest strength, may also be a weak spot. Iran’s oil and gas industries badly need foreign money and know-how. A recent report by the research centre of the Majlis reportedly said that without substantial investment, Iran would be importing oil in 16 years at best, in eight at worst.

Insurance, re-insurance and LOCs are all but dried up. Many Iranian ships were grounded in foreign ports because the banks refused to honour the monthly installement terms that resulted in Iran having to pay upfront for the ships.

With recent devaluation of Rial by 10% and further rise in the price of utilities, the inflation has moved well high into the double digits. That I suspect was the reason, CBI was not allowed to publish inflation figures. Unemployment is also rife.

Iran may be hurt the most, however, by the Indian-Iranian impasse over how to pay for the crude oil worth about $1 billion a month which Iran ships to India. This has been covered in Uskowi as well. Iran continues to ship the oil but has had trouble getting paid. Under strong pressure from the US, the Reserve Bank of India stopped transferring funds to Iran in December, though it made a single payment of $2.1 billion through EIB before that bank was sanctioned.

India now owes Iran more than $3 billion. The Indian cabinet is due to vote shortly on a plan to pay Iran for oil in Indian rupees, which could only in turn be used to buy Indian goods. That
arrangement would be a problem for Iran, which in the past has bought only about $1 billion a year from India. If Iran is not able to profitably sell oil to India, Iran will have to sell it elsewhere, but Iran will almost certainly have to accept a considerable discount.

Anonymous said...

The donkey in the stable basiji ,

Please enlighten us on how much the sanction against Iran is costing? Obviously the Iranian regime will not tell us and they not US or Zionists. William Burns is stating that it is around $60 Billion per year in oil and gas. But may be the author of the article will tell us. (assuming he can put his money where his mouth is)

Anonymous said...

@ Amir Tahiri et.al of various forms.

Firstly, let me sincerely thank you and Nader for the fine reporting and facts. However, according to the usual Iran hating folks here, you seem to be more prolific than the ghost of Bin Ladin, or are as very pro-Iranian or nationalistic poster responding to your blog under different aliases and like the Jinn have taken many instant personas to thoroughly confuse our foreign based compatriots, many born overseas and not very familiar with Iranian history and harbouring the grudges of their self-exiled parents and waiting with baited breath under a smokescreen of delusion for the past 33 years for "regime change".

BTW, these frustrated Iran haters do not understand that you are not the Amir Taheri from the 70's, the editor of the state-owned Kayhan newspaper pre-Islamic Revolution. That "Amir Taheri" would be exactly 80 years old now and not the most popular figure in the Islamic Republic. I would seriously doubt it that the other "Amir Taheri" would have the stamina to blog with the worst of exiled frustrated set or the occassional Zionist hasbara bloggers who troll in to malign Iran. If you are him and 80 years old and still blogging strongly on Nader's blog, then more power to you ( I would also like to know what kind of diet and nutrition you are on, since you are really on to something good).

I am also impressed by your 180 degrees political and conscience turnaround from a western based anti-IRI vatan foroosh to a complete Iran parast. Actually, stranger things have happened, we live in interesting times.

Now since that FACT is settled, let's move on to your articles.

I for one, along with many other Iranians find them refreshing, factual and also enlightening for the foreigners so that they for once get a true picture of Iran on an English language blog. I wish more Iranians posted here and gave their impressions. NO I AM NOT YOU RESPONDING, even though I may be accused of being you.LOL.

Nader has really put the cat amongst the pigeons with your interesting and challenging articles and your uniquely ubiquitous name. You may achieve cult status if this keeps up.

Anonymous said...

Nice article, I enjoyed it and I can confirm the content.

As a young student in Iran we used to read history and despise those who used to hide behind the British and Russian flags and compromise their own fatherland.

some of you should look in the mirror and remember who you are.

Anonymous said...

So we are supposed to believe that the sanctions have had no impact on Iran. That is the same propaganda coming out of Iran's leaders and this Amir Taheri!

I gather you think everyone who reads these posts must a bozo who has an IQ of that donkey.

TheDonkeyInTheWell said...

To one of the Iranian bashing anons (obviously the same person).

According to the US/Zionists and people like you:
- the sanctions are working (who cares what the costs are)

And that statement is probably as valid as e.g. the one about
- Iran building a nuclear bomb "soon" (the last 15 or so years)
- the Iranian government is about to collapse (the last 30 or so years)
- the 2009 elections were stolen

Now you tell me.
- Is Iran building a nuclear bomb?
- Is Iran supporting terrorism?
- Who is intentionally trying to harm the Iranian economy?

TheDonkeyInTheWell said...

Amir Taheri

The irony here being of course that it has been “they” whom have created me.

But leave it do the hate-mongers to overlook such subtle sophistications.

Anonymous said...

To the Donkey

Your patronising crap is all nonsense. The number one enemy of Iran (others are enemies as well but not number one) is not these so called US or Zionists. It is the government of Iran and this fucked up religion that has turned once proud nation into a bunch of Iran hating pawns (and Islamic loving lot). After thity odd years of propaganda even the kids believe that Islamic way is the only way forward. Granted Iran has made progress since. However, if the wrong policies of successive Goverments were not there, Iran would have made far more progress.

These people like Taheri and his mates are not Iranians. They are Islamists and their alliance is to their pay masters in Islamic propaganda, Karbala or similar fucked up places. I suggest that if they are not happy in Iran they should move to Karbala and hopefully an al-Qaeda or another Islamic terrorist would sooner blow their head off. You can of course take a trip from US or wherever you are and join them Mr ass!

May be (as someone mentioned before) in the next ten years the Bushehr reactor will be passed to Chinese and by that time all the equipment there would be obsolete and the job that was originally started in 1970s has to be resubmitted in 2025!

What a bunch of delusionists.



Let us sit and label everyone something.

Anonymous said...

BTW let us read about Iran's poverty line as described by Uskowi site on Friday, March 4 2011:

http://www.uskowioniran.com/2011/03/half-urban-population-in-iran-under.html

"Half Urban Population in Iran Under Poverty Line – Report

Between 44.5 and 55 percent of Iran's urban population lives under the poverty line, according to a report presented by senior Iranian government researchers at a conference organized by Statistics Center of Iran (Markaz Amar-e Iran), Tehran Bureau reported on its Website.

The authors, Mansour Kiani, Khalil Attar, and Jila Habibi, reported 23.3 million people in the cities were under the poverty line and cannot subsist on their households' incomes [Tehran Bureau, 4 March]."

I guess the conpiracy theorists will site this eport as the work of the Green movement or inspired by the USA and Zionists. This report is a wake-up fact that after 30 years of mis-management in the name of a wreched ideology that promotes rejectionism, deprivation, superstition and plays classes against each other, this nation has been reduced to this level of poverty and hand-outs. Anyway let us thank Mr Taheri for allowing us to raise these matters.

Amir Taheri said...

Anon 10:36,

You know I really appreciate all the friendly comments, but I really dont have the patience for someone like this one "anonymous" that has a liquid explosion in the comments section of my articles. People like that crave attention and I won't respond to his every accusations of what I see here.

You are right, I am not the 80 year old Amir Taheri, and I am kind of upset that he is ruining my name! I have said this often in my last articles from last year but it seems I need to keep it up :)

Regarding my friendly "anonymous" that keeps accusing me/us of writing under psydo names, I think since he uses this method that everyone else has to as well.

TheDonkeyInTheWell,

I hear you brother/sister!!

TheDonkeyInTheWell said...

Iran blocks cheap Chinese imports

There you go anon, one less problem for you to worry about.

Anonymous said...

Mr Taheri is obviously entitled to his opinion and writing about what ever he wants. This is his analysis of the Economic situation and the impact of the sanctions in Iran. However anyone who lives in Iran or is visiting Iran on a regular basis or have family and friends living in the country can clearly see that Mr Taheri is living in a fantasy world. Even the members of the Majlis and people within the system are admitting the price of the sanctions paid by Iran. There is no doubt that the Iranian government has been somewhat successful in neutralizing the impact of the sanctions. But the pressure is mounting and the main problem is the lack of investment and transfer of technology and know how within the vital Oil and Gas sector. Neither the Russians nor the Chinese have the knowledge and Technology to modernize the Iranian oil industry. The main goal of the sanctions are to make it very expensive for the Iranian government to purchase and obtain the necessary good and services. This has already happened and Iran is paying a much higher price for these goods and services. Ultimately this will weaken the Iranian Economy even further and lead to more social tensions.
The internal bickering within the establishment is not helping the situation either.

Anonymous said...

Anon July 9th 7:08PM,

This Taheri is mistaken. No one who has been in Iran recently like myself or lives in Iran agrees with Mr Taheri's naive assessment of Iran's success against sanctions.

The question is not whether sanctions are just. That is another debate. The title of the article is "Trade Sanctioning a Nation of Traders" and the article has a superficial view of how sanctions work. In real terms and judging by total lack of foreign investment and technology transfer the sanctions have been regrettably very effective as much as it is difficult to admit.

Anonymous said...

@ anon July 9, 2011 12:52 PM and other usual Iran bashers

Your rant laced with meaningless low-class profanities and a tirade of insults heaped upon Iran and its religion only demeans whatever convoluted "argument" you are trying to advance in sheer frustration and wishful asperations.

Try to get over the glaring universal truth that Iranian revolution is now over 3 decades old and reflects the wishes and asperations of the MAJORITY. Two generations of Iranians have been born since the late 1970's and nothing is going to reverse that course. Iranians are neither "brainwashed" nor naive. Shia Islam is the soul of Iran, and many frustrated self-exiles and their really brainwashed offspring born in the west simply can't get over that FACT. Iran is not about to turn into a socially
promiscuous European "liberal democracy" (albeit most of them are conformist police states too with very little tolerance for diversity as the recent bout of Islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment and political repression , particularly in the US attests to).

Even the wide spectrum of assortment of "monarchies" in the past 1400 years of Iran's unique Shia Islamic history, combined with an illustrious multi-ethnic mosiac of Persia have used religion extensively to promote national cohesion and unabashedly nationalistic policies. Blaming and insulting Islam with crude gutter language behooves civilized debate on this forum or in any civilized social forum. Try to act in a mature and rational manner.

Unknown Unknowns said...

Dear Nader,

Congratulations to you and Amir both for garnering up 33 comments and counting on this recent post.

If you'll recall, I had earlier recommended that you disallow the anonymous option for posting, in order to foster a sense of (virtual) community, and for regular posters to get to know one another, thereby elevating the quality of the posts. I urge you now again to do so, even if it means changing the format of the blog.

For example, there is a good post @ Anon 7/9 @ 9:27 AM which I would like to respond to, but frankly, I don't know if s/he will even know that it is s/he that I am responding to, as s/he will not recall the date and time of his or her post, and will not be bothered to look it up. Beside that major chilling effect, there is the fact that I have to go look up teh post again, then scroll to the bottom of it, remember the date and time, scroll back up, and type it in - all for a post that is a response to a poster who will not even know that his or her post is being responded to. Can you see how caustic or toxic Anonymous posting is?

Look at raceforiran.com for a contrast. There you will look in vain for a single Anonymous post, even though the option is available. But the difference is that people have to actually type in "Anonymous" if that is what they want to be known as, and it is not a stock option that is offered and is one click away.

Anyway, I would urge that you seriously consider re-formatting your blog if you have to to get away from the Anonymity toxin. I don't agree with many of your views (I am much more in support of our country's government, especially in time of our 32-years and counting imposed warm war), but wish you every success, for at least the continued success of your site adds another voice of sanity in an otherwise insane English-language blogistan.

*

The response that I wanted to give to the above-cited Anon is first to thank him/ her for her informative and fact-based post, but to say that all those things may or may not be true, but irrespective of that, you need to address the REASON for the sanctions. There is no doubt that the sanctions have had horrible affects on Iran's economy and even more importantly, on her political economy (encouraging extreme isolationism, etc.), But what is the point of establishing that if you do not discuss the *rationale* behind the sanctions? ONe has to discuss the rationale if one is to properly come upon a response policy. If the rationale is that the sanctions are imposed by a perfectly legitimate "international community" who wants nothing but the best for Iran and her future, then that implies a very different set of responses to the sanctions regime than the actual reasons (see my earlier post in this thread).

Then the question becomes, what price independence? What price sovereignty? And I for one think that, thank God, we have not even come close to the point where we have to entertain that question seriously.

Wa'llahu 'aalam.

Anonymous said...

If the objective was for Iranians to play Chess, then regretably they are the losers. A good chess player would have worked around a formula to avoid 4-5 round of sanctions against Iran.

You can only play chess if both parties play using the same set of rules, and chess has very strict rules!

Amir Taheri said...

Dear Anon 7:10PM,

You know, the question was never "have the sanctions had an impact", if that were the question, you will note that I say that new planes cannot be bought, MRI and CT scans are restricted, etc.

The question proposed was, have they been effective? To answer this question we must look at the stated aim of sanctions: to change the behavior of Iran's government. I would venture to say that after 33 some odd years, Iran's government has NOT changed its course and if anything, sees the sanctions as a challenge/opportunity to surpass them.

As a counter argument of "effectiveness of a stated action", Iran's aim for US troops in Iraq is that they leave. The Americans argue that Iran sends weapons to Iraq, and influences the Iraqi government to further this move out. We now see US troops leaving and under pressure from the Iraqi government would not keep US troops permanently stationed in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Amir jan,

Another excellent article, third in a row. As usual a bunch of Iran haters have descended like a swarm of pestilent-bearing flies on this site to knock down any thing positive said about our heimat.It's their JOB. Their mission: to silence you.

In a comment on your article last week, I advised you not to be down-hearted by these BA***RDS and as I am considerably older than you, I hope you forgive me to give you another piece of advice. Please don't engage them. It's a waste of your valuable time and effort, the expenditure of which should be allocated to worthwhile things not to riposte to these hopeless losers.

Anonymous said...

Shia Islam is not 1400 years old and Iran has not been a Shia Muslim country for 1400 years.
The language in your post is not any more polite than the person you criticize. It would be good to know the history of Shia Islam before running into the streets and beating oneself silly. In short the Safavid dynasty introduced and promote it and this has become a part of the culture and identity of the Iranians since ca 450 years ago.
This was used in the conflict with the Ottoman empire to create a united nation.

Amir Taheri said...

Dear Anon 4:00am,

Thank you for your comment and advice! You know I feel the same as you, no response to such an individual is always better.

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:00 AM,

I think the real loser and pathetic tosser is you who calls someone who has never met in his life "Jan".

On the other hand if you both know each (you the bozo and that Amir Taheri)., in that case I gather you are gay. Ahmadinejad claimed that there were no gays in Iran. I guess if you both go and introduce yourself then you can be assured of being shafted courtesy of Islamic Government.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:51'

You are absolutely right. The Safavids first tried to convert Iran into Christianity by bringing in mercenaries to Isfahan. That did not work. Then they introduced Shia Islam as a way of countering the Sunni ottomans.

Ahmad Kasravi in his famous book "ShieGari" discusses this issue in detail.

http://iranpoliticsclub.net/library/persian-library/Kasravi-ShieGari.doc

Anonymous said...

Mr Taheri,

There is a bit of confusion about the statement you made in this article "I have now been in Iran offically for 6 months". Do we assume that you are still in Iran and these good stuff are coming out of Iran weekly?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

well written !

Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

To annon July 10, 2011 12:29 AM

You sound like one of those Fedayeen Islam Terrorists that think Shia Islam is the solution to human problems. If the best you can do is to shout and beat your ugly chest in Ashura and recite the story of 72 massoms in desert near Karbala then you might as well move to that shithole and take your hardware (yourself) and software (your fucked up religion) with yourself. People like you who have little or no respect to other humans and their way of life are a disgrace to human race. It is no wonder ignorant morons like you are labelled terrorists.

Suffice to say that there is now a subway stop in Iran called "Navab Safavi". For you and the Iranian state this guy is a marty. For the rest of humanity and I gather for the majority of decent Iranians he is a first class terrorist!

May be you should tell us after the so called 30 years what this religious oriented goverment has achieved besides introducing Iran as a terrorist state to the world! All has been achieved in thirty years has been isolation, classes have been put against each other, monies wasted on irrelevancies (palestinians, syrians, hizbollah etc). This nation has really no friends. Look around Iran's neighbours. Afganistan is source of heroine. Pakistan is not even a country. To the south Arabs have always been hostile to Iran. You have Iraq in civil war/anarchy after 10 years of occupation. Turkey is a new friend more interested in its own objectives. Then you have the assorted central asian dictatorship. Azerbaijan is not friend of Iran as well. Yep these are all MUSLIM countries. But hang on there is one country that has always had cordial relations with Iran and that is CHRISTIAN Armenia. So you can judge yourself how progressive is your Islam and for that matter any kind of Islam.

So let us forget Islam. IMO, any ideology that degrades half poulation of a country to second class citizens (female population) (buses in Iran are segregated. The front entry is for men and the back entry is for women and there is metal barriar to separate these two. Of course if this was in any European Country or US opportunists like you would be crying out sexism, degradation etc but since it is in IRI then it must be OK.

Amir Taheri said...

dear anon 9:41 am,

To resolve your confusion I am now living in Iran, so I have made the big move! I will try to make some reporting from location now that I am here.

dear 10:29 am,

Appreciate the kind words!

Anonymous said...

annon 1:25pm, all your rant here is a classic display of your ignorance and hatred, posing as a display of intelligence. Your name name will be added to the dust-bin of all those anti-IRI "interlectuals" who went to their graves as sad people. If Iran is a terrorist state, what does that make countries like Saudi Arabia, US, Israel etc. whose actions in the region have killed far more people in the past decade than anyone can imagine. If supporting the Palestinians, Hezbollah and all anti-impirial forces in the region is what makes Iran a terrorist state as you claim, I'd rather remain a terrorist state to bring justice to the disposessed than a "non-terrorist" states like the US or those countries u look up to. Good day. hatred, posing as a display of intelligence. Your name name will be added to the dust-bin of all those anti-IRI "interlectuals" who went to their graves as sad people. If Iran is a terrorist state, what does that make countries like Saudi Arabia, US, Israel etc. whose actions in the region have killed far more people in the past decade than anyone can imagine. If supporting the Palestinians, Hezbollah and all anti-impirial forces in the region is what makes Iran a terrorist state as you claim, I'd rather remain a terrorist state to bring justice to the disposessed than a "non-terrorist" states like the US or those countries u look up to. Good day.

Anonymous said...

To anon July 10, 2011 4:23 PM the terrorist.

First try to learn how to cut and paste (rather than repeating it three times!). I am sure in Australia or somewhere near where people use the word "good day" they are schools who teach no hopers like you how to communicate in English!

Now back to question. You mentioned:

"If Iran is a terrorist state, what does that make countries like Saudi Arabia, US, Israel etc. whose actions in the region have killed far more people in the past decade than anyone can imagine. If supporting the Palestinians, Hezbollah and all anti-impirial forces in the region is what makes Iran a terrorist state as you claim, I'd rather remain a terrorist state to bring justice to the disposessed than a "non-terrorist" states like the US or those countries u look up to"

First we are not talking about US or the dump Arabs. We are talking about Iran.

Second you mentioned Palestinians, Hezbollah and others. How about the right of Iranian people who have to live under this oppressive regime! Besides what an average man in Tehran, Mashad or for that matter any other Iranian City or town has in common with some Palestinian? During the Iran-Iraq war how many Palestinians supported Iran! I will give you the answer. They all supported Saddam you Sheila. Got it? Rather than worrying about some Palestinian you should worry about Iranians who have to live under this repressive regime that has very little or no respect for human rights and human values.

Hypocrites like you who obviously enjoy living in a civilised society throw these verbatin crap on how much they support the Islamic Republic. Why don't you put your money where your mouth is and go back to live in Iran You clamhead! You lot make me sick.

BTW did you read the book by Ahmad Kasravi about ShieGhari or that is a bit too much for you!

Anonymous said...

To anon July 10, 2011 4:23 PM

Name calling made sure that you lost the argument. Get this in your thick head: MAJORITY OF IRANAINS SUPPORT THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC.

BTW, the US and its stooges the Zionist entity, Saudis and the Persian Gulf Arab pimpdoms are the world's worst abusers of human rights. How come you so-called self-exiled Iranians ignore the repression in Bahrain, Palestine etc?

Anonymous said...

To July 8:07 Muslim terrorist,

I don't understand why you worry about Palestine. Bahrain was part of Iranian empire and should not have been given to clamp head Arabs who have the same IQ as you do.

For someone who did not know until yesterday that Shia has been Iran's official religion since Safavids it is a lot to digest.

You are not even Iranian because you identify yourself more with Arabs. Whether they are Palestinian or any other lizard eating creature I don't think we really care. With regard to Palestinians and Jews I could not care less as long as they keep killing each other.

There are things that this regime has done that it is Iran's interest. It's permanent objections to Arab-Israeli peace initiative has ensured that both sides are preoccupied to the interest of Iran. I also support their action in Iraq that ensures that there is always a low level conflict between Sunni and Shias which postpones unification of Iraq. A strong Iraq is not in Iran's interest anyway.

So unlike you who has not got bottle to ask himself/herself why I am believing in this Shia stuff without actually understanding the whole thing, there are others who question these mosakhrafat that have been shoved down your throat. People like you are no different from Jundullah terrorists. They blow away people in the name of God and you do the same. Good day Shela!

Anonymous said...

The problem is that the US is flexing its muscle at a time when no one really wants any of its products. No one wants American food, clothing, chocolate (hershey's are disgusting when compared to proper brands), cars and so on. The only American industries producing desirable products, such as aviation, will probably soon too lose out to China, and one can imagine a huge Iranian order of Chinese airliners helping bring about such an occurence.

Anonymous said...

What about the repression in Syria?
Oops I forgot, that is the handy work of the ZIONISTS and AIPAC !

Anonymous said...

Iran is a blessed country and God is keeping its protective hand on Iran.

All huhas and tam tams you hear and see, implying a 5 to 12 situation, is nonsense.

Iran has to keep a calm hand and play its cards as it has till now.

Anonymous said...

To annon 12:32'

Yeah very blessed by hand of god (or that is reserved for Maradona?).

May be Imam Zaman is going to come as well. I am a bit confused here if you morons think Imam Zaman is Khomeini.

Anyway if there was a price on bullshit you Muslim fanatics (AKA terrorists) would have been millionaires by now.

Armenia to that bollix!

Neo said...

Well written article. A couple of additional points on sanctions:

- They have helped Iran become technologically more independent and advanced through necessity

- They have helped Iran demonstrate that it is possible to be a politically independent nation right in the heart of the world's most important and contested geopolitical region and against USA's imperial ambitions

Amir Taheri said...

Thanks Neo for your comment. You are right, necessity is the mother of inventions. For example, I have heard that there is now an Iranian MRI machine.

As an Iranian company, why would you not buy an Iranian product now when it is easier to find spare parts versus pay for an expansive German product that can break down later and be worthless with no spares or expensive parts.

Iran is moving in the direction of self-sufficiency in many industries and I am seeing it on a daily basis when I go out, shop, or get into a taxi. That is not to say that there will not be growing pains in the process. Japanese cars were thought of as junk when they first came out with them... Same can be said for Korean cars not too long ago.

Anonymous said...

Riiiight, amir.

Iran is moving in the direction of self-sufficiency in the same manner that China was moving when Mao decided that families would smelt steel in their back yards.

I'm sure that your Iranian MRI machine would work about as well as that unless you reverse-engineered somebody else's design.

Iran is getting cut off and will progress ever more slowly in comparison to the rest of the world.
Should the Iranian government continue to foment trouble for their neighbors in the Arabian Gulf, it might cause the Saudis to flood the market with oil and bring down the price and send the Iranian economy over the edge.

Anonymous said...

Mr Taheri, "You have heard about an Iranian MRI machine"? We have all heard from Mr Ahmadinezad that Iran is going to send a man into Space in 10 years! A country that can not manufacture even a decent copy of a 15 year old South Korean car!
Iranians are not willing to buy the Domestically produced goods (Because they know about the inferior quality of these products and this even before the Iranian market was flooded with cheaper products than the Iranian made ones) The Mullah's would have made very good teachers of Goebles the Nazi German Propaganda minister

Amir Taheri said...

I have no doubt that Iran will send a man to space, whether its 10 years, 12, or 15 I am not sure. The same people that once said that Iran would not be able to send a satellite to space have not shifted their disbelief to sending a man to space.

Anonymous said...

Your comment shows that you do not have any idea about the kind of investments, thechnology, and infra structure necessary to send a man to space.