Over the weekend I saw Fareed Zakaria interview Karim Sadjadpour and Hooman Majd. You can read the transcript here after the Soros interview. I was also reading Ari’s blog entitled Quick glance at protest sweep in Middle East and North Africa and a discussion there about subsidies that shuts people from protesting and keeping people on the side of the regime. Well I disagree that subsidies are “enough” to keep people happy.
One can not live on subsidies alone and even if that was the case and subsidies were to keep people happy enough to support the regime then there wouldn’t be so much disapproval. I agree with Sadjadpour where he said:
SADJADPOUR: Well, I think that, you know, it’s easier to compel people to kill on behalf of Islam than it is to kill on behalf of retaining Mubarak republic.
The other thing is, I don’t think people in Iran necessarily wake up in the morning thinking about democracy and thinking about human rights and thinking about having a secular system. But they do wake up in the morning thinking about the economy. Younger generation thinks about employment opportunities, older generation thinks about economic dignity.
And if — if this regime — this Islamic Republic didn’t provide people political freedoms, didn’t provide people social freedoms, but they delivered on the economy, then I would agree with Hooman that they would have tremendous support.
But when you deny people social freedoms, you deny people of political freedoms and you terribly mismanaged the economy, I’m not sure really what redeeming qualities this regime has.
So these protests are not about social freedoms alone. They start with economic hardships which are getting worse by the day and then you have political and religious oppression on top of it. I believe those who depend on handouts or corruption have a shaky “support” for the regime and would not hesitate to turn against this regime if this fragile string is broken. The effect of these new “cash subsidies” will be felt more in the next few months when people “spend” their cash and end up going hungry.
The Iranian population is a whopping 80 million and growing and it is getting harder and harder to “control” this population with false hopes and religious sermons.