Persian Independent’s Exclusive Interview with Ahmadinejad: With Less Than 40% Turnout the Election is Turned Into a Referendum Against Iran

Camelia Entekhabifard; Chief Editor Independent Persian

In an exclusive interview with Independent Persian, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whose candidacy was rejected by Iran’s Guardian Council, said that the presidential election is symbol of the nation’s will. It is not about dropping a piece of paper in a box and leave.

He said: “There are times that we have a legal obligation, and times when we really wish to make positive and progressive things happen on the ground. For the country to progress and develop, people need to express their will freely.

He added: “Free will would transform everything. No obstacle can withstand the collective will of a nation. Elections are the vehicle of this will which should continue to perpetuate.”

He added: “We hoped and still hope that there will be a day when both in Iran and in the world at large a common decisive will would permeate the governance of countries so we would see a better situation from what we witness today.”

He referred to his recent tweet comparing the June 18, 2021 election to a popular referendum and the need for a new referendum to decide the structure of governance in Iran.

He said: “I do not routinely expect elections to turn into referendums, but authorities themselves called it a referendum and asked people to participate in the election under the banner that each vote would be a renewal of covenant with the Islamic Republic. It was, therefore, they themselves who turned the election into a referendum.”

He added: “Almost 100% of Iranians took part in the first referendum, and 98.9% of the votes were positive (endorsing the Islamic Republic). Now it (public participation) is reduced to 48%. If you count void ballots – as some do – this percentage goes down to less than 40%.

“The people are the same people. The Iranian nation has, over the course of history, stayed true to itself and safe-guarded their culture and values. These are the same people who in defense of their country against the enemy in 1978,79 and 80, sent their children over mines and did not lose a meter of their land.

“I think, those who are the cause of this situation should be held to account. They should put aside their superior attitude and answer the people. The first step would be to reflect and see what they have done to have made this great and ancient nation to withdraw and to look at them from the margent. I hope for this to happen.”

In reply to the chief editor of the Independent Persian who asked him if he had been persecuted for his critical stance against the governance, Ahmadinejad said: “I think if you enter into the realm of reform, you must be ready to face the consequences. We have been under increasing pressure over these years. My best friends were under pressure. At this moment a considerable number of my colleagues are facing heavy sentences that may be implemented at any moment.”

He added: “The heaviest propaganda in the history of Iranian politics have been aimed against us. We planned a visit to “Orumieh” (capital city of the north-eastern province of Rezaiieh) at the invitation of their citizens. A curfew was announced, so many individuals were abducted during the night and so many were threatened. We are under such pressure on a daily basis, but as I said, if we want reform to happen, we should overcome these (obstacles) come what may.

“As I said in my last week’s interview, best to give my life to the revolution and its values, to the “Imam Mahdi” (last Shiite Imam said to be in occultation), social reforms and serving the great Iranian nation.”

Referring to his meeting with General Nejat (A commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps) prior to the rejection of his candidacy, Ahmadinejad said: “I have already talked about it extensively. The essence of his views was that ‘don’t do anything to put us in a position where we have to counter revolutionary and Hezbollahi forces.”

Ahmadinejad stressed that the reason behind the rejection of his candidacy is clear, but that the Guardian Council had not yet offered any explanations.

As for the unity of Iranian governance, he said: “We had been in this situation before where all three arms of the government (Executive, Judiciary and Legislative) were from the same political faction, but no positive results came out of it.

“Success is in having a clear manifesto, strong management, observing requirements of a logical and wise governance and the support of all the people, otherwise factions themselves have thousands of problems and rivalries among themselves.

He said that as an observer over the past forty years, he can testify that none of the political factions has offered a cohesive and effective manifesto for the management of the country.

On his plans for reforms in the country’s governance, he said: “I have categorized current problems into three levels: Ideals (goals), (governing) structures and conducts.

“At the level of ideals, I believe that the ideals of the revolution have been lost. I mean we do not know where we want to go. It seems as if governance that was the means to each ideal has been transformed into goals. We have got to reassess these ideals and reach a national consensus over them. Structures are to realize those ideals. The most important ideal is national sovereignty and the revival of the right to self-determination, freedom and justice.

“Every structure should have its own specifications. What I said goes beyond the two (Constitutional) powers and includes the backbone of the system of decision-making in the country. There should be a balance of authority and responsibility, a certain procedure at all levels and that they should be brief and transparent. This does not exist at the moment. While the country needs a national and comprehensive view of issues, the parliament’s attitude is local and the government’s attitude is regional. The extent of authority should match the level of responsibility.

“On the third category, where we head towards freedom, justice, dignity and progress, naturally attitudes should match ideals. They should be capable of delivering and above all, authorities should be the products of the will of the people.

“Governments have no function but execute the will of the people, but unfortunately in the world and particularly in Iran, structures (governance) have legitimized themselves against the will of people. These reforms are not limited to one or two constitutional arms but it should happen.

“If management, ideals and the appointment of people are not done properly, there will be no progress and nothing will be done.”

Ahmadinejad pointed out to the political, economic and social prospect of Iranians in the coming four years.

He said: “The nation is unified. There is no polarity among them apart from who they vote for. But there is considerable polarity among powerful factions and politicians. The future is bright. I can see that the nation has decided to move forward to the zenith of ideals, but this requires passing a certain path, and I believe they are doing it intelligently.

“Iran is the land of talents, culture, endless wealth and history. After all, we have been a nation for 7,000 years. We have seen hundreds of ups and downs, experienced situations much, much more difficult and complicated than this, but have witnessed that the nation has sailed through them with its unity and belief in historical values.

“I believe today Iranians are moving fast the sign of which is their level of awareness. You can see that the speed and level of solidarity and awareness is unmatched. All this tell us that positive events will happen to the benefit of the nation and their will and the situation will change completely.”

Pointing out to Ebrahim Raisi’s approach towards the countries of the region, Ahmadinejad said: “Two points should be considered. Iranians do not fit into the political categories of reformist or conservative. The Iranian nation is extremely reformist and equally adhere to its historical beliefs. It is for these reasons that the Iranian culture has created a continuous trend in the world.

“There is no alternative but friendship and brotherhood among countries and nations of the region. We should all respect each other’s integrity, avoid interfering in one another’s affairs and avoid attempting dominance in the region. Saddam (Hussein) did it once and we witnessed the consequence of it.”

Ahmadinejad said that his relations with some neighboring countries have faced certain limitations but he really likes them. He said: “I did not expect (them) to immediately reply to my messages although I hoped they would. I am certain that we all want peace in the region, but it requires collective co-operation and help.”

Where Will You Go When a Robot Takes Your Job?

There’s rising anxiety in the US about the future of work. And for good reason. As technology and trade disrupt existing systems of production, there’s a good chance that many workers will eventually lose their jobs. But instead of trying to freeze the economy in place, the government should help people find new jobs quickly so they don’t suffer any economic harm.

Americans have been hearing for years now that robots are coming for their jobs. The pandemic has probably brought those fears closer to reality by pushing businesses to invest in new labor-saving technologies. Innovations like QR code ordering at restaurants are raising productivity; that’s good for the economy overall, and will probably raise wages in the industry. But once initial labor shortages are resolved, it might be harder to find a job waiting tables when fewer wait staff are needed.

In the long run, that’s fine; people will find new jobs. The new wealth created by the labor-saving innovations will cause demand to increase; new industries will grow and expand and find things for the displaced workers to do. Thus has it always been. Unless this is the final wave of innovation that makes humankind go the way of the horse — which seems unlikely — it will happen again.

But in the long run, we’re all dead, as John Maynard Keynes once said. It’s the short run people have to worry about, and in the short run workers have reason to fear this sort of job churn. It imposes all kinds of costs on workers and their families: uncertainty about what to do next, loss of health insurance and often the cost of retraining or moving to a new location. It seems unfair — employers just install a new machine and they’re good to go, while workers have to upend their lives. Furthermore, widespread fear of this kind of disruption could hold our nation back from embracing technological progress.

There are ways the government can help reduce this risk and defray these costs. One big example is national health insurance; when losing your job doesn’t mean losing health benefits, workers are less anxious about switching employers, and may even feel more comfortable quitting to find something better. Another example is the Danish “flexicurity” system, which provides workers with education, retraining and job-search assistance.

But while these policies would help American workers be less afraid of losing their particular jobs, they wouldn’t entirely allay the fear of being forced to change their occupation. When whole industries see technological shifts that reduce the need for labor, workers don’t just have to find new employers; they have to find a whole new trade. Even for waiters or cashiers, switching occupations can be frightening.

This is why people worried about job loss are grappling with the same question: What new jobs will be available for the displaced workers?

In the past, when jobs were less specialized, answering that was easier. When workers were displaced from farms, they got jobs in factories. When factory work dried up, they got paper-pushing office jobs, and so on. In recent decades, local services like food service and leisure and hospitality, along with health care, provided a sort of default job base. Without a better option, you could always wait tables, staff a hotel desk or check in patients at a doctor’s office.

But as industries continue to fragment and specialization proceeds apace, it’s become harder to guess where the next demand boom will come from. Even if you hear about an industry expanding, you still need to figure out what role you might play in that industry or how to get the training you’d need. That makes it tough to plan ahead. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that companies generally don’t spend a lot of effort recruiting workers at the lower end of the pay scale.

There’s scope for the government to help with this problem. The Bureau of Labor statistics actually makes 10-year forecasts of the fastest-growing occupations in percentage terms, and those that will add the most total employment.

The BLS website has links to more information, such as what kind of education is needed to get these jobs. Obviously, these forecasts are subject to unexpected events like Covid-19, but they contain a lot more information than the average worker is likely to know.

I see scope for the government to do a lot more on this front. First of all, this website should become a mobile app. Second, the government should pay select employers to provide detailed information, including video tutorials, about how to get each of these jobs, as well as vetting free content from YouTube channels, Quora, and other online sources. Third, there should be a map, showing where these jobs are located.

In fact, it seems possible that in the future, the government — perhaps in partnership with a private job-search company — could provide a portal for employers to actually match with employees. This would be very helpful in lower-paid occupations where companies don’t bother to do extensive job searches. A law could require that all job openings be listed on the government portal.

Smart strategies like this can help workers learn to embrace technological change. If the government helps people plan their next move if and when they’re no longer needed in their current job, workers will be able to roll with the economy’s punches more easily. Combined with national health insurance, education and retraining assistance — and a robust unemployment insurance system — it could make terror of job loss a thing of the past.

Lebanon Raises Price of Bread amid Crippling Economic Crisis

Freshly baked bread cools at a bakery in Beirut, Lebano

media & connection

Lebanon’s economy ministry on Tuesday raised the price of subsidized bread for the fifth time in a year amid the country’s worsening economic and financial crisis.

The ministry said the reason behind the latest increase is that the central bank has ended sugar subsidies, which adds to the cost of bread production.

Lebanon is grappling with the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history — one that the World Bank has said is likely to rank as one of the worst the world has seen in the past 150 years.

The World Bank said in a report this month that Lebanon’s gross domestic product is projected to contract 9.5% in 2021, after shrinking by 20.3% in 2020 and 6.7% the year before.

Lebanon’s currency has lost 90% of its value, breaking a record low earlier this month of 15,500 Lebanese pounds to the dollar on the black market. The official exchange rate remains 1,507 pounds to the dollar.

The central bank has been cutting back on subsidies as foreign currency reserves have dropped from $30 billion at the start of the crisis in October 2019, to nearly $15 billion at the present time.

Most Lebanese have seen their purchase power drop and more than half the population now lives below the poverty line. There are severe shortages in gasoline, medicines and other vital products. Electricity cuts last for much of the day.

The government in June last year raised the price of flatbread, a staple in Lebanon, by more than 30% — for the first time in a decade. It has since raised the price three times before Tuesday.

The Ministry of Economy says 910 grams (2pounds) of bread will be sold for 3,250 pounds. It used to be sold for 2,750 pounds before the latest increase.

London reaches milestone as SEVEN million Covid-19 vaccines administered in city

More than seven million Covid-19 jabs have been administered in London as Britain races to get people vaccinated to protect them against the threat from variants of the virus.In a triple dose of good news, an NHS chief also said the vaccines had “broken the link” between coronavirus cases and deaths — and a Cabinet minister struck the most upbeat note yet that all restrictions will end on June 21.

Official figures show that 6,989,702 inoculations had been given in the capital as of May 31 and the figure has since risen above the seven million mark.

Hailing the “significant milestone”, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Standard: “At every step of the way over the past six months our amazing NHS staff have worked day and night, hand in hand with volunteers and our armed forces. Everyone in London has pulled together through this pandemic — we haven’t beaten this virus yet so when you get the call, get the jab.”

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started