Iran, Iranian society, Iranian economy, Middle East | Homeland Security Newswire

IranIran’s uprising—a case of patrimonial corruption, pt. 1

By John Changiz Vafai

Published 9 February 2018

The recent uprising in Iran has a powerful message: eliminate economic injustice. In this respect, it is more potent and enduring than the wave of demonstrations in 2009 seeking “where is my vote.” The 2009 revolt was primarily carried out by young university students, intellectuals, urban dwellers, and those who had the experience of life under democratic systems. In that year, young Iranians’ overwhelming vote, for a semblance of a representative government, was answered with guns. Iran’s problems could not be explained without referring to the paradoxical fabric of its society, and its government. Iran has one of the highest adult education in the world— 97 percent among young adults— well ahead of the regional average. Further, a considerable percentage of the student body, in Iranian universities, is female. And Iran has a unique pattern of distribution of wealth among its institutions. The disposition of economic resources is mainly controlled, and ultimately benefited, by the extra-constitutional entities.

The recent uprising in Iran has a powerful message: eliminate economic injustice. In this respect, it is more potent and enduring than the wave of demonstrations in 2009 seeking “where is my vote.” The 2009 revolt was primarily carried out by young university students, intellectuals, urban dwellers, and those who had the experience of life under democratic systems. In that year, young Iranians’ overwhelming vote, for a semblance of a representative government, was answered with guns.

Iran’s problems could not be explained without referring to the paradoxical fabric of its society, and its government. Iran has one of the highest adult education in the world— 97 percent among young adults— well ahead of the regional average. Further, a considerable percentage of the student body, in Iranian universities, is female. Telegram, an encrypted social media app is used by more than 40 million Iranians. It was a prime means of sharing information and videos during the antigovernment demonstrations. President Rohani solicited, and received, a substantial number of women’s vote who voted for him in the hope that the curbs on them will be modified. Yet after his re-election President Rohani’s new cabinet excluded women (and Sunnis). Further, he has left most obstacles on women in place including a ban on their presence in the stadiums.

This year’s demonstrations concerning “the price of eggs” reflects not only a deep and widespread economic outcry of the students and intellectuals, but also the ordinary people, tired of the financial autocracy of the few against the economic hardship of the mass. Official figures indicate a pronounced economic impact from the demonstrations. According to Mohammed Javad Azari, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, within two weeks of unrest, bank transactions fell by 40 percent and the national postal services income fell by 18 percent. Further, while (according to the World Bank report) after the nuclear deal, the economy has registered a strong bounce back with an annual headline growth rate of 13.4 percent, unemployment among the ordinary people increased nearly 13 percent (up from 12.4 percent) in the spring 2017. The core dissatisfaction lies in economics and preferential system of distribution of wealth. The post-sanction economic diet with increased funding for the extra-constitutional entities and ideologically oriented groups in the Middle East, at the expense of the ordinary Iranians, has not worked.