Opposite ends

Two countries, two directions in three decades


Opposite ends
by Jalil Bahar

In the late 1970's, Iran and Spain stood close to each other on the world’s stage. They both had struggling monarchies with a legacy of over 30 years of dictatorship. They both had gross national products of about $50 Bn. And, they both had populations of about 40 Million. Both countries enjoyed a long history of royalty, and they had both suffered an invasion by the expanding Islamic empire over 500 years ago.

This past week I witnessed Spain’s triumphant Soccer (Futbol) team beat Germany in the Finals of the Eufa Cup. And on Sunday, it was Spain’s Rafael Nadal crowned Wimbledon’s Mens Tennis Champion, beating Roger Federer. And all this right after Spain’s Sergio Garcia was named the PGA tour’s (golf) players’ champion.

To whatever extent sports reflect health and prosperity; one can say Spain has arrived!

By Contrast, Iran’s Soccer (Futbol) team has barely made it to the second round of World Cup Qualification, having lost or drawn in games against the great power houses of Asian soccer: Bahrain and United Arab Emirates. I have to say, it makes me boil. And, I am getting ready to hide under the sheets in about a month when the Olympics start! Iran, I am sure, will be an embarrassment again. Everything from Iran’s opening procession team parade to actual athletic performance will be a sham. Iran’s medal rankings will recede again from its heyday in the ‘70s – even in wrestling and weight lifting!

In every international way, Iran’s Ayatoilets have led Iran into the toilet.

Here we are 30 years later. Spain is a vibrant democracy, with a population around 40 Million and a GNP of $1 Trillion. Yes that is 20 times Spain’s GDP in 1980. Iran on the other hand is an Islamic Theocracy, with a GNP of $118 Billion and roughly double the population. If one accounts for inflation, Iran’s per capita income has actually receded substantially. This is all despite the fact that Spain has no natural resources. Iran on the other hand has been sitting on one of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world.

Spain hosted the Soccer world cup ('96), the Olympics ('92) ...and has visibly left behind a historic legacy of religious totalitarianism. The dark days of "the Spanish Inquisition" of the 13th century and Franco’s fascist dictatorship of the 20th century are well behind it. Spain has developed a very large and free communications industry with a free press along with multi-party pluralistic political parties. Spain is a democracy in every sense of the word.

Iran on the other hand, has simply rolled back its clock some 600 years. Iranians are living through the dark days of “Islamic Inquisition”: without free speech, without free elections, under the heavy watch of the Mullah’s secret service – imp rosining any secular opposition. Iran in effect traded an Imperial Monarchy for an Imperial Theocracy and gained nothing. Iranian democracy is down the toilet.

After wining the game, Rafael Nadal, jumped up to the VIP box to hug his parents, his coaches, his relatives and then ran across a series of roofs with a Spanish flag to hug the Prince and Princess of Spain in the Royal box. In his post game interview, he thanked the Spanish royals for attending. Their presence meant a great deal to him.

I can not even imagine a single Iranian athlete doing anything like that. Imagine someone thanking Iran’s Supreme Leader (Khamenei) or President Ahmadinejad for anything….except maybe screwing up Iran’s soccer federation with appointing a political crony to head it (as they did recently) …leading to censure by FIFA for political involvement in the soccer federation, and nearly getting Iran kicked out of the global federation and censured from international games.

We were all rooting for Spain, and we were thrilled to witness all these events! However privately, I remain saddened by Iran’s demise, and I keep wondering what will it take to turn things around for Iran?

Intellectually, physically, and historically Iranians are no less than the Spaniards…dare I say than anyone else. When will our days of triumph on the world’s stage come? Can a new Iranian generation rise to glory?


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It is us not the Ayatollahs

by Babak H (not verified) on

We can not compare the Spanish culture to Iranian culture. The Ayatollah's represent the deep rooted backward culture of Iran. They are only a manifiestation of our backward culture. I am a proud Iranian, but I anguish over a culture which is superficial, anti modern, selfish, and content with personal superficialities. We need to look inward first and then blame others. We have used every excuse to blame all of our ills on others. The arabs, the imperialists, the Europeans, the Ayatollahs, the Monghols, on and on. Let's face it, it is ourselves and our culture to blame.

Jalil Bahar

Not Correct

by Jalil Bahar on

In reply to Ahmad Jafarizadeh:

I actually spent a great deal of time in Spain in the late seventies and early 80's and I can tell you that culturally they were NOT 100 years ahead of Iranians (at that time). There was deep religious sentiments, they were still reeling from Franco's dictatorship, they had a fragile democracy, there was real terrorism and separatism with the Catalans and Basque population...BUT ...through wise leadership they have transcended all that in 30 years. Iran has NOT.

The comparison actually applies and applies with profound accuracy. I also would challenge anyone to come up with another comparison - Turkey, Dubai, .... and again we see that Iran has receded ....despite tremendous natural wealth.

I think the analysis is valid and shame on the Mullahs.



by Bahramerad on

Thank you Dr. Bahar.




Dear Iranian Goverment,

by The People (not verified) on

You do not fool us or the rest of the world with your failed 'missile tests' and altered images pretending that you are a powerful military nation.

Instead of trying to start a fight with a nation stronger than you, you should work with the rest of the world to progress us and them as a whole.

If you continue to open your mouth and act tough, you will only hurt yourselves and us in the end.


The People


We should be thankful!!!

by Haj Seyed Goozbaghali (not verified) on

One should not forget the fact that, Islamic Republic government may have taken our freedom away but instead they have given us the next life! An eternal existence next to the prophets and angels. In heaven!!! Is this how we thank them?!?!?!
I really want to thank every and each one of our dear Mullas in person!!! please let me thank them in person!!! it won't take long just get them all in one place and i will thank them...

Jalil Bahar

Thanks for your words of wisdom

by Jalil Bahar on


You are obviously very wise, and when you hand out feedback its clearly coherent, constructive and designed to cause improvements in the subject. I took very special notes from your deeply insightful comments and I will make sure next time I write something to follow your guidance.... You obviously have Iran and/or Spain's welfare in mind, and your deep thoughts have just motivated Iranians into transforming their dire economic condition with 85% dependency on oil revenue, 75% dominance of Religious Bonyads in its non-oil economy, the 17% of Oil revenue siphoned off directly into the Supreme Leader's Bank Account, into an open, free and dynamic economy.

 And if you do not think Iranian participation in international events is a direct reflection of this situation, then perhaps you know something no one else does.

Thank you ....Its feedback like yours that motivate me to write again. With the great hope that one day, somewhere, you will sit back and reflect ...on exactly what you read and whether your response really made a positive difference.

You are obviously a gracious, generous, and very kind individual. I wish I walked in your shoes.



by GZA (not verified) on

Incoherent babbling from a fool who seems more interested in discussing sports (under the guise of a metaphor, and a poor one at that) than the actual situation in Iran, or Spain for that matter, over the past 70 years.

Look Jalil, I have a better website for you:


Almost all of the

by abc (not verified) on

Almost all of the oil-exporting nations that aren't Democratic are in seriously poor shape, or have such massive income disparity that is far from sufficient to form a viable middle class.

Iran has a problem with lack of refining capacity, and insufficient electrical infrastructure The mullahs subsidize gas (bribing Basiji and other subjects of theocracy to keep them happy with the torturing regime) so much that almost every penny they make selling oil is used to pay for fuels used by their own people, and they have very little non-petroleum industry.

As for per capita GDP, they are just about in the middle of the pack, at less than $11K/year. For reference, Turkey is about 20% higher. Trukey doesn't have oil and Turks are not suppose to be smarter than Persians, eh??

Jalil Bahar

Its all a matter of Exchange Rates and Sources

by Jalil Bahar on

At this immediate point (not UN's analysis for last year which I used as a source) and with today's exchange rates Spains is at 1.4 Trillion and Iran is at 290 Billion. Its still a huge gap. There is a UN source called PPP (Purchasing Parity) which basically accounts for the difference in the price of Bread, and rice etc (domestically) if you use this basis, then China's economy is basically double the Size of the US's and you can also inflate Iran's GDP...but this is AN ADJUSTED number, its not an actual value based on cash deposits in Bank accounts, etc.

There is no question about the fact that Iran's economy has receded. Only an idiot would stand up and argue otherwise. The facts are simple and very plain to see. Turkey, with no natural resources outshines Iran, South Korea outshines Iran, little UAE outshines Iran, ...I could go on and on. This article is simply a comparison of Spain and Iran that had some similarities 30 years ago. That is it!


jamshid is right

by Abarmard on

One must be fair. Now we can't bring the past, we must realistically hope and plan Iran's future. We can do it, it will happen suddenly, I hope.


Re: Anonymous-thela

by jamshid on

"If it wasn't for the revolution, we'd still have 50% literacy rates and villages outside of Tehran would still not have running water or electricity..."

This decietful statement is used by pro-regime individuals a lot. What you fail to add is that Iran had NOTHING in the 1920's when it started its development.

In the 1920's, when the literacy effort started, we had less than 1% literate people to begin with. Even then, half of them could only read Koran (mollahs) and had no formal teacher training.

It would take a decade for those few who were literate to educate and train the first set of new teachers. The number of the first set of new teachers could not be large since we had limited resources.

But then those new teachers trained and educated a second even larger set of new teachers, and so on.

This means that it would take several decades to achieve a 90% literacy rate. And Iran was well on its way for that. The "rate of increase" in literacy in Iran was greater than in any other country in the world.

So saying that Iran was only 10% literate in the 1950s, or 65% in the late 70s, and not saying the other half, is a deceitful and intentionally misleading statement. If not, then it must be a statement of your deep "illeteracy".

Had the previous or a similar regime remained in power, that fast rate would have continued. Iran would achieve a higher literacy rate than under the IRI, all the brains would remain in Iran, and Iran would enjoy a higher level and better quality of education and literacy.

Thanks to the IRI we lost all of that.

You cannot compare today's IRI with the 1970s Pahlavi's Iran, as though Iran would have remained frozen in 1978. You can only compare today's IRI with what Iran might have been today, if the pahlavis had remained in power for another 30 years.


Anonymous-thela And IRanians

by Anonymousballa (not verified) on


And IRanians don't pick their food from garbage?? have you visited Bam and south of Tehran lately.

Are you suggesting that electricity and water for the villages would not have been provided under the Shah after 30 years?? ARe you suggesting that the IRanians after 30 years, don't deserve more than this and should shut up and not ask for more???

Does providing electricity to villages somehow excuses all the massive thieving, looting, mismangement, corruption of the Islamic Republic leadership?? Despite unprecdenat oil revnues in the history of Iran, which the Shah never enjoyed, the GDP and income per capita is lower now...how do you explain that???

Thela jan, you're not fooling anyone.



by abc (not verified) on

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Iran's missile test bolsters the U.S. argument that Tehran is a threat. He also says it counters Russia's case against the need for a missile defense system in Europe.


p.s. Gates is not a neo-con. He is a realist. This is very dangerous game which is going to result in death of hundredes of Iranians...Iran is a mosquito annoying a giant elephant who feeds on war and more wars...Iran cannot afford to act like a bully anymore. The power that be know how foolish and arrogant the mullahs are and the mullahs are falling prey into their games. This has to stop...this is sick.


Kadivar Joon - Reza

by Anonymous-thela (not verified) on

Kadivar Joon - Reza kochooloo needs to get himself a job. The monarchy's over baby, so just give it up already. 3 decades is long enough of this nostalgia for your good old days.


na-shokri nakon

by Anonymous-thela (not verified) on

If it wasn't for the revolution, we'd still have 50% literacy rates and villages outside of Tehran would still not have running water or electricity.

Have you been to Brazil to see children sleeping in the streets of their massive slums?

Have you seen the open sewers in Mexico?

Have you seen families make their living picking trash in heaps of garbage in the Philippines?


Immortal guard??? Where is

by LE (not verified) on

Immortal guard??? Where is your citation??? Do you disagree that Iranian income per capits is lower than Mexico, S. Korea, Japan, Turkey and Peru?? Do you disagree that more than 40% of Iranians live below poverty level? Do you disagree that Iran has the highest rate of drug addicts??

BTW, wasn't Japan nuked by the US???? Are we less smart than Japanese?? Japan is a creditor to the US?? BTW, how did the Japense got revenge from the "satanic" Americans?? Did they fund suicide bombers and terrorists or did they try to build their economy and infrastructure?? How long are we going to blame others for our own shortcomings???


What Abarmard and World

by abc (not verified) on

What Abarmard and World Citizen recommend is to accommodate the will of the most uneducated, right wing fundamentalist segment of the society.

Should Americans allow the rednecks to set the discourse for their country even if they are a powerful/influential and vociferous bunch??? Why have we set the bar so low and are allowing those who don't have a clue to determine the future of the country??? Would you allow a redneck, highschool drop out to run your business???

Do you think the US would have been what is now if they had waited for the rednecks and the racist Christian fundamentalists in the US to "evolve"? If that were to had happened, the blacks would have still been sitting in the back of the bus.

It is precisely because of this reason that the founding fathers did not allow just anyone to vote when they first started this country. Those who were land owners and educated were the only ones who could vote...because they were educated.

Here is a bit of history:

"Voting Rights on the Eve of the Revolution

The basic principle that governed voting in colonial America was that voters should have a "stake in society." Leading colonists associated democracy with disorder and mob rule, and believed that the vote should be restricted to those who owned property or paid taxes. Only these people, in their view, were committed members of the community and were sufficiently independent to vote. Each of the thirteen colonies required voters either to own a certain amount of land or personal property, or to pay a specified amount in taxes.

Many colonies imposed other restrictions on voting, including religious tests. Catholics were barred from voting in five colonies and Jews in four.

The right to vote varied widely in colonial America. In frontier areas, seventy to eighty percent of white men could vote. But in some cities, the percentage was just forty to fifty percent.

The Impact of the Revolution

The American Revolution was fought in part over the issue of voting. The Revolutionaries rejected the British argument that representation in Parliament could be virtual (that is, that English members of Parliament could adequately represent the interests of the colonists). Instead, the Revolutionaries argued that government derived its legitimacy from the consent of the governed.

This made many restrictions on voting seem to be a violation of fundamental rights. During the period immediately following the Revolution, some states replaced property qualifications with taxpaying requirements. This reflected the principle that there should be "no taxation without representation." Other states allowed anyone who served in the army or militia to vote. Vermont was the first state to eliminate all property and taxpaying qualifications for voting.

By 1790, all states had eliminated religious requirements for voting. As a result, approximately sixty to seventy percent of adult white men could vote. During this time, six states (Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Vermont) permitted free African-Americans to vote. "




by Immortal Guard (not verified) on

Your article does not add up at all. I did not even read it till the end. Just one example: Iran's GDP is 8 times what you have written.


Spain or South Korea

by Amir Khosrow Sheibany (not verified) on

The economic planners of 50 years ago saw themselves as competing with South Korea, more so than Spain. And after 1974 when the country had reached the position of 13th largest economy on the planet (larger than China's at the time), with the presumed future price of oil/gas going up not down, they targeted Germany/Japan as our ultimate goal.

Meanwhile, back in Fatemeh's home, an economic development plan was devised with the assistance of both Hassan & Hussein, to take us to an even higher level. To the time of the first 3 Caliphs of Allah.

It should be no surprise that funds became quite quickly available for a private charter of an Air France 747 to assist the Iranian people in this noble cause.


The biggest difference is people and their culture!

by Ahmad Jafarizadeh (not verified) on

You can't compare Spain and Iran because if you look at the people's cultural maturity, tolerance, etc. the people of Iran are 100+ years behind the Spaniards! That is the reason for where Spain is today vs. Iran! The people of Iran can not and will not see progress until there is a vast and all-inclusive cultural revolution from the bottom-up!
Please don't do comparisons that don't apply!

Darius Kadivar


by Darius Kadivar on

What do you have worth saying other than your usual crap and ridiculous name ?

I don't need your moralistic lessons. I am not a fanatic unlike you.

I respect people even if they differ in opinion. Abarmand for instance has this decency of being polite and differ by offering logical arguments. I may disagree on some of what he says but I enjoy the intellectual challenge to oppose them with arguments and not Slogans.

Unfortunatley people like you Botshekan hardly ever contribute to anything but the un intellectual scum your grew up in ...

They were right about anonymous intellectual terrorists like you back in 1979 by calling you ANN TELLECTUAL and not Intellectuals. I respect the intellegenstia unlike you who prefer to shoot them or slander them like your role model Ibrahim Yazdi aka Mr. Green Card without even bothering to give them the right to express themselves.




You fail to realize....

by Mensa (not verified) on

The single factor that differentiated the recent course of history of these two nations.....was the role of Islam or more clearly fundementalist Islam.

Although Spain was at the same stage economically as Iran in the late 1970's....its people were in support of a secular government, while our people strived for a return to fundementalism....that my friend is our big difference.

But I believe that all things in life (the bigger picture is in history) has a lesson and as long as we have learned that lesson then we have moved on and have progressed. The single greatest thanks that we have to bestow on IRI is to have shown us what Islam is really all about...What mullahs are really all about...what a theocracy is all about....and drum roll please.....the post revolution generation has resoundingly rejected and denounced this backward wahabi life style and philosophy.

We might not realize this today, but the past 28 years have been a great period of cultural and social enlightenment for our people. We have come to realize that Islam is not a way of life...it is not a political system...it is not for Iranians.

After the overthrow of this regime...I see much better days for Iran and Iranians...because we have just turned the corner on the dark ages...just as europe did approx. 500 years ago....there is a bright future for all of us thank to the IRI....I never thought I would say that! They showed us once and for all what true islam is all about!!!!!!!!!



by botshekan (not verified) on

With followers like you not only Reza Pahalvi but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will need a miracle to be restored or relected :P


I agree with Abarmand

by World citizen (not verified) on

I agree with you dear Abarmand! As long as we Iranians don't realize that WE are responsible for OUR OWN ACTIONS and BEHAVIOUR, there won't be any progress for our country! It's as easy as that!
We have to start accepting our differences. Iran is a religious country, whether we like it or not. Iranians are superficial and superstitious people, whether we like it or not. We have to be tolerant and caring towards each other if we want to make noticable changes in our country.
The uptown of Tehran (and a few other larger cities in Iran) DO NOT represent the whole country. We are NOT much different than our neighboring countries. It is a fact we have to accept. If we have hard time believing it, then perhaps we should start reading and studying more...
...One big reason for the backwardness of our country is the lack of knowledge and awareness about our own people. Unfortunalty we have too many "Tabib and Mohandes"! Perhaps we should let our children explore and grow in other areas as well...


A nation of 30 million

by Abarmard on

Ran on the streets and chanted slogans without any social or political demands. When they were asked :Islamic Republic= Yes or No the people should have known that there are no choices present in the ballet. But as you can see we deserved what we got.

Don't travel far, look at the Iranians today. If you visit Iran or hangout with the Iranians in LA or similar to them, do you really see any hope?

If yes let me know so I can become hopeful too. The problem was not Shah, and it's not all IR, most of the problem comes back to us. We can't empty our shoulders from responsibilities.

Now instead of having a vibrant Iranian community out of Iran, who are well to do and well educated, we have an Iranian community that if involved in politics wants the "West" to fix what we have done wrong!

How can anyone be proud of this lowest possible social common sense!

So yes, Iran could've been but not should have been!

Darius Kadivar

Interesting comparison

by Darius Kadivar on

Interesting insights into Iran and Spain.  I wonder if like Spain we can consider a Restoration of the Monarchy in the constitutional form with Reza Pahlavi as he seems to also look at Juan Carlos of Spain as a Role Model.

Soccer Aside even if I think that is still very far fetched I don't think however that it is anymore utopic or unrealistic to consider the idea of a Democratic and Secular Constitutional Monarchy. Where the Constitution, and Parliament would be above the King or Queen in terms of Power but that they would be symbolic and living symbols of National Unity.

Obviously Reza Pahlavi still has a long way to go in terms of convincing and rallying support.

Who Knows ? History is not Science and Miracles do Happen !



Why nit pick on Jalil.

by Dreamer (not verified) on

Why nit pick on Jalil. Shall we compare ourselves with Turkey? How about UAE?

It depresses me everytime I hear that stupid song "Dubai Dubai" in Iranian parties, what next "Kabul Kabul"? Is this what Iranians now aspiring to become?

The problem is, Iran is run by a bunch of idiots. Look at the short stay of Bush, and how much this idiot single handedly is making U.S economy prosper. Now multiply that by everyone from Rahbar to President to head of judiciary with monopoly on power by their own gang and you get the picture. We are like a 12 cylinder car that operates on only 1

As for the war with Iraq, let us not forget back in 1983-84 we had driven the fckers out of Iran and Saudis were shtting their pants and willing to pay us handsomely for a truce. Alas the visionary Khomanee would not settle for anything less than Karbala.

Do we deserve this? Absolutely. Look what happened to Mossadegh and Amir Kabeer and Fatemi.

Maryam Hojjat


by Maryam Hojjat on

What has happened in Spain & south Korea is product of Freedom.


South Korea

by jamshid on

Everyone should study and compare Iran and South Korea's progress from the 1950s to the late 1970s.

Both countries were as backwarded. Their illeteracy rate were almost identical. They both had a dictatorship. Both relied on US support to fend of the Soviets. Both countries almost took the same steps in education and industry. They both got their first steel plant within a few years of each other. They both had car "montage" factories in the late 70s. South Korea was always a close second to Iran in its economic growth indicators.

They both splitted in different directions in 1979. We know the rest.


You are just a dreamer

by Observer (not verified) on


"Intellectually, physically, and historically Iranians are no less than the Spaniards…dare I say than anyone else."

This is where your entire argument collapses. Just compare how the Spanish people maintained their democracy after Franco (a great man/dictator by all accounts) and how we thrashed our fledgeling ruling system by replacing the Shah with a Sheikh?

Mr Bahar, despite your hatred for the Pahlavis you should admit that we Iranians did not deserve Reza Shah and his son and we got what we deserved. Please next time be realistic and don't say such obviously mind-boggling statements as the one quoted here.