Do Not Embitter the Public; Will We Reach Balance in the New Year?


Will We Reach Balance in the New Year?

Mohammad Ali Vakili’s editorial in Ebtekar newspaper titled “Will We Reach Balance in the New Year?” raised thought-provoking points.

The editorial discusses the economic and financial challenges facing the country, the lack of equilibrium and the need to overcome the political deadlock in the country.

“The country is currently embroiled in various conflicts, including budget disputes, energy issues and problems within the banking sector. It is critical for the next Parliament to address these disagreements and strive for equilibrium. The year 1403 should be marked as the year of balance in infrastructure affairs, yet disharmony persists in societal norms as well.”

Vakili observes dissatisfaction among those in power, with conflicts arising between nationalism, Shiism, Iranism, and Islamism. He stresses the need for these factions to find common ground and forge a cohesive national identity.

The editorial continues, “Duality between secular and religious spheres must be reconciled, and the alignment of national and religious holidays must be carefully considered to avoid further social division. History shows that Iranian identity and Islamism are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary. As we approach spring, a season symbolizing harmony and balance, it is crucial for the country’s leaders to prioritize efforts toward bridging societal gaps and fostering unity.”


The Battle for Truth: Independent Media Versus Government Manipulation

Hammihanonline newspaper, in one of its editorial commentaries on Sunday, discusses Raisi’s meeting with media heads, where he expressed his expectation for the media to highlight his government’s efforts. This contrasts with the era of Imam Khomeini who did not want his name or picture in the media. From there, we have reached a point where the government, despite its $3.7 billion corruption and unfulfilled promises, expects praise from the media. 

The editorial asserts, “This is the government that promised to bring inflation down to a single digit, but it is still around 40%. A government whose statistics show the lack of people’s trust in its performance, but expects the media to honor it.” Raisi should understand that the media and people are interested in his performance, not his motives. How does a government drowning in apathy expect the people and the media to praise it contrary to reality? If this government had even a fraction of the successes of the first period of the Rouhani government, what would it expect from the media? If independent newspapers publish such fake, customized and personalized headlines, not only will people condemn them, but journalists will have to work in such a discredited, sycophantic and groveling media environment merely for meager salaries.

The motivation to work in independent media is not material but underpinned by the hope of improving the country through criticism and scrutiny of official functions. The government’s approach has led to hundreds of complaints against newspapers in the past 18 months. If it were not for these critical media outlets, the news and media authority would have completely gone beyond its boundaries, as people do not see any good in the official state-run media.

The editorial reiterates, “Let us be very clear. The gap between us and effective media that challenges corrupt and inefficient individuals and forces them to answer is very wide. On one hand, access to information is very limited, and on the other hand, we are far from impartial media processes. One of the causes of the $3.7 billion of corruption in the Ministry of Agriculture was that the media failed to challenge the government in the matter of livestock inputs, thus paving the way for further corruption. Even now, this path is not closed, and it will not be closed until real media is formed. A government that expects propaganda even from these half-life media outlets does not understand the importance of media in the modern world. They want to move sand with modern airplanes!”


Do Not Embitter the Public

In an editorial titled “Do Not Embitter the Public,” Ali Salehabadi discusses Iran’s economic challenges, particularly high prices and inflation. As the year 1402 is coming to an end, people’s concerns revolve around coping with high prices.    

People are preparing for Nowruz and the beginning of the new year. Field observations and gatherings show that people do not have the Nowruz spirit of the past years because of high prices. The fluctuating prices of food staples are not mere statistics but an urgent reality that is directly impacting people’s lives and the business environment.

Salehabadi suggests reducing the size of the government and collecting taxes from non-government institutions such as Astan Quds Razavi, Bonyad Mostazafan Foundation, Relief Committee, Khordad 15 Foundation, The Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO) or Farman Imam Executive Headquarters, etc. He also suggests addressing unprofitable companies draining government resources. He cites Iran Khodro and Saipa, whose combined debt has soared to 200 billion tomans, as examples.

He predicts that due to the budget deficit, inflation will be around 40% next year, similar to this year, making living conditions difficult. Since 2017, inflation has risen by about 40% each year, amounting to approximately 250% inflation in the country in six years. According to Salehabadi, this swelling inflation is like a termite eating the pillar of a wooden building and destroying it. The effect of inflation on people’s lives is not just a metaphor; it is a harsh reality that erodes their purchasing power and makes basic necessities unaffordable. 

He also mentions cases such as the embezzlement of $3.7 billion by the Debsh tea company, which sparked public outrage. Moreover, he sees the trial of the two children of the first deputy of the judiciary and their father’s resignation as opportunities for punishing those who abused their positions.

Salehabadi criticizes the government for focusing on slogan-spouting revolutionaries rather than competent technocrats. He highlights Iran’s environmental degradation and energy shortages due to imbalanced energy production and consumption. This market’s negative reaction to the electoral victory of the “hardliners” in the 12th Parliament, fearing increased sanctions, is also noted.

He argues that Iran’s economic and political issues will not be resolved until relations with the West, especially the United States, are normalized. The United States’ ability to impose sanctions hampers economic development and inflation control in countries like Iran.

Salehabadi concludes by emphasizing people’s need for economic stability and calls for a significant shift in foreign and domestic relations to meet these demands. 

Setareh Sobh

1403: A Wake-Up Call for Unity and Progress

Abbas Abdi’s editorial in EtemadOnline newspaper views the new year as a wake-up call for unity and progress. He emphasizes the need for substantial reforms in domestic, economic and international policies. The year 1403 is seen as a crucial opportunity, a beacon of hope, to steer society back on the path toward unity and progress.

Abdi reflects on the past, noting how the “fundamentalists’” promises of progress during the Ahmadinejad era led to significant crises. He then mentions the ongoing journey of purification within the “reformists’” ranks after Rouhani’s election, shattering the belief that it was a finite process. He highlights the need for change and the potential consequences of not seizing the opportunity in 1403.

What happened to those promises when people protested? They were told to wait. Officials used the analogy of planting an eggplant, which takes seven months to bear fruit. Interestingly, they did not mention the pistachio, which takes about seven years to yield fruit. Seven months seemed manageable; 20 months have passed since 1401, and there is still no sign of these promises being fulfilled.

The pressure on people’s lives and the declining trend in welfare indicators are recorded in official reports. So the current year, 1402, represents the last year of this elusive dream; that not only did we not witness any positive developments, but the March elections also showed that people were desperate and basically had no hope in the fulfilment of any promises under the “fundamentalist” policies and this is an obvious result not only for the public but also the elite and even many government officials. There is no chance left for the government to continue the policies of the last three years. For sure, they will not dare to make essential decisions next year for obvious reasons, both because of the US elections and because of entering the 1404 elections (the Iranian presidential elections), as well as the social pressure and lack of trust that exists among people now.

Clearly, this dream was unrealistic — the idea of unity bursts like a bubble by the sea. Therefore, the new year 1403 can be considered the year of necessity to wake up from our deep sleep and accept change. The totality of the current policies should result in serious changes in the domestic, economic and international arenas. It precedes everything in the domestic sphere. Of course, the internal forces must also accompany and adapt their demands to the facts and the public good. In my opinion, the new year 1403 is perhaps one of the last opportunities to wake up and steer society’s affairs to the path of unity and progress.


Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Involved in Embezzlement

Journalist Yashar Soltani has uncovered a case of land appropriation within the Imam Khomeini Seminary, revealing that a 4,200-square-meter garden valued at approximately 1 trillion tomans has been transferred to a company owned by Kazem Seddiqi and his relatives.

The garden, situated in the upscale Ozgol area of Tehran’s District 1, was reportedly acquired gradually over the years through purchases from Tehran Municipality, endowment organizations and benefactors, including influential figures such as Mebli Kashani, a prominent businessman closely associated with the political clergy.

Soltani’s investigation highlights the close relationship between Kashani and Seddiqi, with Kashani previously claiming that Seddiqi hosted Misbah Yazdi at his home, only to retract his statement later.

Records indicate that Seddiqi, the temporary imam of Tehran’s Friday prayers, has held ownership of this 23,000-square-meter property, housing the Imam Khomeini Seminary, for the past two decades. The recent land transfer pertains to a 4,200-square-meter garden situated within this larger property.

The company involved, Pirvan Andishehai Qaim, was registered as a non-commercial organization on November 14, with Seddiqi, along with his children Mohammad Hossein Rajabi Seddiqi and Mohammad Mahdi Rajabi Seddiqi, listed as members of the board of directors and founders. Additionally, Adel Mohiseni, director of the seminary, and Javad Azizi, a municipal employee, are also among the founders and board members.

The report further reveals that Rizvaneh Qavam, Seddiqi’s daughter-in-law, has been appointed as an inspector, while Fazlullah Bigurdi, head of Seddiqi’s security team, serves as an alternate inspector. These appointments raise concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the integrity of the land transfer process.

VOA Farsi

320,000 Iraqi and Afghan Applicants Allowed to Enroll in Iranian Universities

Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Iranian Expatriates Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alireza Bigdeli informed ELNA news agency on Tuesday, March 19, about the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution’s efforts to expand consular services for individuals intending to study in Iran.

The government, through recent resolutions, is gearing up to accommodate an anticipated influx of 320,000 foreign students, with a particular focus on those from neighboring nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year, Iranian universities admitted 100,000 foreign students, primarily from these neighboring countries. Bigdeli views this trend as a stride towards internationalizing Iranian universities and fostering a culture of attracting foreign students, with plans underway to enhance welfare facilities for prospective applicants.

However, questions arise regarding the extent to which this influx truly internationalizes Iranian universities and attracts students from abroad. Despite efforts to draw students from neighboring countries, the quality of Iranian universities has been on the decline. Notably, no Iranian or “Islamic world” university ranks among the top 10 globally in the Islamic World Citation Database (ISC).

Despite an increase in the number of universities in Iran, now totaling 69, quality has sharply decreased. Many universities, including previously esteemed institutions like Hamadan Medical Sciences and Qazvin Medical Sciences, have witnessed drops in their rankings. Out of the 69 universities, 41 have seen their positions decline compared to 2022, highlighting a concerning trend.

The Iranian government’s focus on increasing student numbers as a marker of scientific progress raises questions about the employability of graduates in the labor market. With an estimated 80% of Iranians pursuing higher education, concerns persist about the ability of these graduates to secure employment, particularly given the prevalence of unemployment among individuals with advanced degrees. Masoud Shafiei, president of the Technical and Vocational University, previously noted that a significant proportion of Iran’s highly educated populace remains jobless, signaling potential challenges ahead despite the surge in student enrollment.

DW Farsi

Politicians React to Zarif’s Remarks About Khamenei

The release of an audio recording featuring Mohammad Javad Zarif, exclusively obtained by IranWire, has elicited wide-ranging responses from politicians, former officials, both domestic and international activists and numerous social media users. The content has also garnered significant attention in newspapers closely aligned with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

In the recording, Zarif, the former foreign minister of Iran, discusses the involvement of key figures in the 1402 parliamentary elections, notably Hossein Taib, former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) intelligence organization, and Mohammed Ali Jafari, former IRGC commander-in-chief. Zarif hints at their significant influence in the election process.

Among the revelations in the audio file is Zarif’s assertion regarding “reformist” intentions to challenge the Constitution’s provisions concerning the country’s leadership, particularly after the establishment of the sixth Parliament. He alleges that the “reformists” posed a threat to the leadership of Khamenei, which in turn led to threats against the “reformists” themselves.

Zarif’s mention of the July 2018 protests in the recording has drawn scrutiny, especially his claim that students were chanting slogans suggesting a march toward Azerbaijan Street in Tehran, where the leadership resides. Responses from figures such as Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Mohammed Safi, Hassan Esadi Zeidabadi and Ali Afshari have criticized Zarif’s assertions, with some accusing him of deceit and political manipulation.

Afshari’s critique, in particular, challenges Zarif’s credibility and accuses him of aligning with radical information networks. The release of the audio has also prompted reactions from newspapers supportive of Khamenei, such as Kayhan, which published excerpts from Zarif’s remarks but selectively addressed his statements about potential challenges to Khamenei’s position in a vague manner.

In response to the controversy surrounding the release of the audio file featuring Zarif’s conversation, Kayhan newspaper, known for its alignment with Khamenei, selectively quoted Zarif’s remarks, avoiding direct mention of any challenge to Khamenei’s position in the Constitution.

Sobh-e No newspaper, overseen by Farshad Mehdipour, a close associate of the Khamenei family and current deputy to the Ministry of Guidance in Ebrahim Raisi’s government, highlighted Zarif’s criticism of what he termed as the “extremism of the reformists.”

Following the widespread speculation sparked by the audio file’s release, Zarif took to social media platform X on Saturday, March 26, to address what he termed as “incorrect interpretations” of his statements. He claimed that his words had been “manipulated and interrupted,” while also extending apologies to those who may have been “offended” by his remarks.

It is worth noting that IranWire altered the voices in the audio file and omitted certain sentences to ensure the safety of the individuals involved in Zarif’s meeting.


Editorial Team