Japan’s capacity for mediating between Iran and America
The editorial of Aftab Yazd deals with Japan’s willingness to mediate between Iran and America to de-escalate the tensions that have been on the rise in recent weeks.
Iran’s diplomacy is looking towards the east so it can compensate for the troubles caused by the United States in the region and the international community. A new wave of actions has started to create an international consensus against Iran.
With the escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington during the past weeks, Zarif started a new round of trips to New York, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, China, Japan, India, and Russia to change the current atmosphere against Iran.
One of the most important achievements of Zarif’s trips is that the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed his willingness to go to Iran – the first trip of any Japanese Prime Ministers after the Iranian Revolution. Even after Trump’s trip to Japan, Abe’s decision to go to Iran has not changed.
As such, Abe’s trip to Iran, apart from indicating Japan’s seriousness in expanding its relationship with Iran, it also shows that he is concerned about the current conditions between Iran and America. The Japanese are worried that tensions between Tehran and Washington might result in an increase in the price of oil, which will inflict severe financial losses on Tokyo as it is a big importer of oil.
The Japanese Prime Minister goes to Tehran with two goals: expanding special economic relations with Iran and creating a compromise between Tehran and Washington. In addition to Japan, other countries have announced readiness for mediation in this regard.
However, given Japan’s desirable relationship with Iran under the late Hashemi Rafsanjani, it has more capacity than any other country in resolving the issues and expanding its relationship with Iran.
Aftab Yazd – May 29
A tough path ahead for Iran’s reformists
The editorial of Ebtekar focuses on the challenges the Iranian reformists have to face in the upcoming elections.
It seems that the Iranian reformists are more than ever concerned about the upcoming elections, in particular, the parliamentary elections this year and the presidential elections in 2021. With reformist members of parliament losing one of their seats in the parliament’s board of directors, these concerns have further increased.
There is no doubt that since 2013, the reformists have had relative success in elections, particularly in large cities. As a result, a considerable part of the country sees the reformists as responsible for the performance of the executive and legislative branches, considering them accountable for the mistakes and failures of these branches.
On the other hand, for years the reformists have complained about the government’s lack of attention to their ideas and programs. Analyses and assessments show that at least a part of the government, particularly the 12th government, has not been sympathetic towards the reformists.
Still, the reformists haven’t performed well in the parliament. Even though the reformists were able to get elected 100 members of parliament in 2015 in 2015, they failed in gaining the relative majority.
Iranian society sees the current problems – particularly livelihood issues – as the outcome of the reformists’ inability in making the right decisions, while the reformists claim that they have had a minimum role in such decisions.
Meanwhile, the reformists have unknowingly entered another dispute with the domestic hardliners and the opposition forces. As an outcome of this dispute, the reformists are facing a dangerous situation.
As such, the conditions within the reformists’ camp are not favorable. It seems that because of certain differences of opinion, they are unable to adopt a reliable strategic plan for getting out of the current situation.
Ebtekar – May 28
The editorial of Ebtekar deals with the issue of widespread poverty in Iranian cities and its possible repercussions.
Poverty’s terrible and unimaginable attack against the people is an unfortunate issue that has targeted the foundation of Iranian families, culture, and morality, as well as religion in Iran. During the past decades, one of the centers of poverty was the slums of Tehran and other centers of poverty existed in provinces such as Mashhad, Isfahan, Ahvaz, and Shiraz. Now it has spread to all cities and towns.
Not only are welfare, education, and health facilities non-existent but signs of malnutrition, improper housing, unemployment, and even poor clothing are quite visible. Nevertheless, many satellite dishes as you can imagine are visible in these poor places!
There is no need to do research to prove this claim. What is surprising is that more than 90% of the residents belonging to villages and neighboring cities have migrated. The demographic, psychological, and sociological reasons for the phenomenon are not yet known.
If you have ever observed field studies from cities such as Zabul in Sistan and Baluchistan, Shahrud in Semnan, Shahryar and Robat Karim in Tehran, and other cities, you will see for yourselves the proof of this point. The concentration of a considerable number of people – who have common economic and social problems and are connected with each other through poverty and pain – can be dangerous.
These people might reach the conclusion: that no one is thinking about them and they are neglected; the class differences between the center and periphery might reach the point of no return.
Then the social explosion comes, endangering security in society. At that time, the explosion due to collusion and inattention to the poor will take our sleep away!
Ebtekar – May 26
Significance of Zarif’s trip to Pakistan
The editorial of Jahan Sanat focuses on the importance of Zarif’s recent trip to Pakistan and how this trip can play a key role in the relationship between Tehran and Riyadh.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif went to Pakistan, following Imran Khan’s trip to Tehran in April. Even though Islamabad’s officials tried to consider Zarif’s trip as an effort to expand bilateral relations, such a trip can be very significant, given the conditions in the region.
Its significance mostly lies in the Riyadh-Islamabad strategic relationship. The truth is Islamabad is in absolute alignment with Riyadh and is moving away from Tehran. Such conditions have resulted in an increase in the diplomatic crisis between Tehran and Riyadh, and between Tehran and Islamabad.
Under such circumstances, Zarif’s trip was aiming to consolidate bilateral relations to reduce the tension in the Tehran-Islamabad relationship. What can make Zarif’s trip to Pakistan more significant is that Tehran can use the Islamabad-Riyadh relationship to alleviate the tensions and to even normalize its relationship with Riyadh.
Currently, Riyadh is a part of Washington’s maximum pressure strategy on Tehran. So if Riyadh turns to alleviate tensions and to normalize relations with Tehran, Washington’s pressures on Tehran will subsequently reduce. It seems that preparing the ground for normalizing the Riyadh-Tehran relationship is the most natural and evident scenario to be expected from Zarif’s trip to Islamabad.
This can give a more prominent role to Islamabad in regional developments.
Jahan Sanat – May 25
Bolton blames Iran for the explosions at Fujairah
The US National Security Advisor John Bolton attributed the explosions targeting four ships in the Gulf to Iran. Whilst speaking to journalists in Abu Dhabi, ahead of his meeting with Emirati officials, Bolton accused Iran of playing a key role in sabotaging four ships off the coast of the UAE.
On May 12, there were explosions targeting two Saudi ships, one Emirati ship, and one Norwegian ship in Port of Fujairah, UAE’s main oil terminal. The ships were damaged, but there were no human casualties or oil leaks.
Bolton further said that Iran violating the nuclear deal cannot mean anything other than Tehran moving towards making a nuclear bomb.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran recently announced that while preserving the low level of uranium enrichment, it has quadrupled the amount of uranium production.
Bolton added that if Iran continues this process, it is a serious issue, urging that “this is just more graphic evidence that it hasn’t constrained their continuing desire to have nuclear weapons.”
The US National Security advisor also stated that Washington is “very concerned” that the Quds Force and its commander Qassem Soleimani might use Iraqi militias against US forces in this country.
The Spokesperson of Iranian Foreign Ministry, Abbas Mousavi, denied the claims of the US National Security Advisor as to Iran’s role in the sabotage of four ships off the coast of the UAE.
Meanwhile, as the tensions keep mounting between Iran and America, the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “if America stops the sanctions and returns to the nuclear deal, the doors to negotiations will be open.”
The Spokesperson for the US Secretary of State Morgan Ortagus, however, stressed that Iran must accept the 12 conditions for negotiations set by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. She urged that if Iranian leaders take the 12 conditions set by Mike Pompeo seriously, “we are ready to negotiate.” She added that the sanctions and maximum pressure campaign against Iran will continue.
Abbas Mousavi had earlier emphasized that Iran doesn’t intend to have any negotiations with US officials. Concerning the 12 conditions set by Mike Pompeo for negotiating with Iran, Mousavi said that Iran doesn’t accept them.
The 12 conditions include: halting uranium enrichment, ending support for terrorist groups in the Middle East, withdrawing all Iranian-backed forces from Syria, and abandoning threatening behavior against its neighboring countries, many of which are US allies.
Students protest against “foreign sanctions” and “domestic suppression”
The students of Allameh Tabatabaei University in Tehran held an assembly, voicing their criticism of sanctions imposed by foreign countries and the suppression that they face from Iran’s establishment.
Holding pictures of jailed teachers and workers and environmental activists, the students said the Iranian people are caught between “foreign and domestic bullies” and do not want to surrender to any of them.
The students of Allameh Tabatabaei University also held placards on which they wrote: “Neither warships nor batons; only people’s vote”, “Poverty and misery: outcomes of sanctions” and “National security without freedom and justice.”
At the end of their assembly, these students read a statement in which they expressed their opposition to “war”, “sanctions”, and “authoritarianism.”
“We warn those who rule this country that you do not have the right to gamble with people and their livelihoods,” said the statement, “you do not have the right to sacrifice people’s interests for your dangerous policies.”
The statement added that foreign intervention has become an excuse for silencing domestic critics and anyone who objects to the situation. Today there are many who cover up the authoritarianism inside the country while justifying the status quo.
Around 90% of the workforce in Iran, the statement went on to say, is temporary. As a result of the establishment’s policy, systematic corruption and discrimination have become institutionalized, while poverty and unemployment have significantly increased. Today almost 19 million live in slums and are deprived of any services.
The students emphasized that the current conditions are not just the outcome of sanctions. Despite the effectiveness of sanctions, the current situation is the result of the establishment’s policies and they must be resisted. While sanctions and foreign pressures continue, people inside Iran are facing a brutal attack against their livelihood and are losing all their educational, health, and welfare services.
Fatemiyoun Division: Iran exploits the poverty of Afghan immigrants
IRGC officials have taken Afghan immigrants to war against ISIS, by making promises to them that were never fulfilled. The Fatemiyoun Division was formed in 2013 by Qassem Soleimani, the IRGC Quds commander, to fight against ISIS. This group had played a key role in fighting ISIS under Iran’s flag.
Even though this group was formed in the name of defending shrines in Syria and serving Shiism, the alluring promises made by IRGC officials to Afghan immigrants — who had left their countries because of poverty and hunger — were the main factors in mobilizing the Fatemiyoun Division in the Syrian war. Among the promises made to Afghan immigrants were to give them Iranian birth certificates, and monthly salaries, as well as permanent support for the families of those killed in the war. These promises resulting in thousands of Afghan immigrants going to the war front during the past 6 years.
International institutes defending human rights and the Afghanistan government have repeatedly criticized the Iranian regime for using immigrants in the war in Syria and Iraq, calling it an explicit violation of international laws regarding immigrants. However, disregarding the criticisms, the Iranian regime organized this large army from Afghan immigrants.
Now that the war the in Syria against ISIS has come to an end and thousands of fighters belonging to the Fatemiyoun Division have returned to Iran and Afghanistan, many members of the division say they have been abused by the Iranian regime.
Even Afghan child immigrants were not excluded from Iran’s recruitment. The Human Rights Watch Organization announced in 2016 that the IRGC has deployed children under the age of 18 from among Afghan immigrants in the Syrian war. This organization identified the graves of 8 Afghan child immigrants who were killed in the Syrian war, calling this act of the Iranian regime an example of a war crime.
These children, under economic pressure, had to join the Fatemiyoun Division, as Afghan workers faced a drop in wages in the Iranian market.
Iran’s frightening image: Unemployment, poverty, and suicide
No exact statistics are offered regarding the poverty line in Iran. Government organizations still emphasize that 12% of the population are under the poverty line, while some Iranian lawmakers say 55 million people are under the poverty line. The Misery Index — which combines poverty and unemployment — has indicated that 38%, more than 24 Iranian provinces do not have food security. The indexes released by government entities portray a very frightening future for the country.
Meanwhile, the rate of suicides due to poverty and unemployment has increased in the cities of Iran. These two phenomena, poverty, and unemployment are correlated, as unemployment ends in poverty. Statistics Center of Iran still insists on announcing the rate of unemployment at 12%.
Still, during the past month, 1,000 workers reportedly lost their jobs. With the widespread recession, particularly in the oil and gas sector, the ground has been prepared for laying off a large number of workers.
While workers are losing their jobs, the rate of inflation shows a 50% increase compared to last year. The rate of inflation for food and drink is more than 80%. The Misery Index for 2018 was 45% for the provinces of Charmahal and Bakhtiari, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Lorestan, and Sistan and Baluchistan. For Tehran, Khuzestan, Ilam, and West Azerbaijan, this Index was between 35 to 40 percent.
In the meantime, the price of medical equipment has risen four to five times in the past months in Iran. No low-rate foreign currency [US dollar at 4200 tomans] has been allocated by the government to purchase laboratory equipment and its spare parts.
The lack of laboratory diagnostic test kits as the most commonly used medical equipment is another problem which has prompted worry among lab technicians.
Meanwhile, it was reported that some medical centers have to provide for their needs via purchasing smuggled products. The police chief of the Sistan and Baluchistan province lately said his forces discovered smuggled medical equipment worth more than 1 billion tomans while inspecting a trucking company in the city of Zahedan.