Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oil revenues and democracy

It is snowing now for several hours in Tehran. I was caught in a 3hr traffic jam coming home from the City Council. The streets are all covered with snow and moving towards the northern parts of the city becomes difficult. We had an important session today in the plenary on air pollution abatement programs and an extraordinary session in the Environment Committee on the technical inspection procedures. Unfortunately, the government apparatus is not performing properly regarding the comprehensive air pollution abatement plan which they should implement. We discussed ways that the Council could assist in promoting the programs.

This was what you would call a very busy week for me. The week began with the Baran Conference on Petroleum, Development and Democracy. I was invited to moderate the first session in the morning. The speeches delivered were very interesting in terms of the relationship between the levels of democracy and the state of economy particularly in petroleum based economies. Some of them pointed out that governments with oil revenue based economies are not accountable to their people like tax based economies. Listening to what most of the economists and sociologists had to say , one could conclude that in addition to the great contribution that petroleum has had to the economy of our country and its significant role in the advancement of national development programs , oil revenues have also served as obstacles or restraints for the democratic processes of the country.

I had a lengthly interview with the Japanese NHK television network in the afternoon that day. They are producing a comprehensive report on the third decade of the Islamic Revolution.


Unknown said...

Hello!!!! and thank you for coming back Dr. Ebtekar! I had things to say!!!
I'm glad you wrote about that Petroleum conference in Tehran, I also have a link to a related news here that should be considered as quite a GOLDEN opportunity by Iran if ONLY your regime was actually being run by the types of people you had speaking at that Petroleum conference last week!

You see Dr. Ebtekar, I think what your other readers like Anna were trying to say over the past 10-11 months of writing such LONG comments here and screaming their heads off about the dangers that are coming Iran's way, was to try and make you Reformists (and other democracy seeking Iranians like the Freedom Movement) to wake up from your restful sleep, and to push you to get up and fight for the future of Iran by lobbying your leadership to CHANGE its view of the world!!!!

I think the reason Anna was so desperately trying to move YOU Reformists to use your "inner-circle" status (khodi) and work WITH some of the relatively less ideologue elements of your current Supreme Leadership crowd (than the Ahmadinejad crowd), as opposed to AGAINST them, is that "The Fierce Urgency of Now" requires a truly drastic CHANGE in Iranian politics, and leaving the HOPES and aspirations of Iranians to the natural progression of a dormant REFORM movement which might slowly affect incremental changes, just would not DO at this point in history!!!

I'm sure, as Anna often said, that as long as people like Dr. Zarif are being listened to, then Iran is capable of seeing this new wave of CHANGE that has swept this shiny, hopeful, audacious Obama World, and therefore will adapt to it accordingly, but what I'm not sure of (and I think the reason Anna has bowed out from these conversations, with disappointment) is whether brilliant people like Dr. Zarif are in fact being listened to in the decision-making circles of IRI???!!!!

I don't want to sound like I'm gushing over this ONE man (the way Anna came off as doing), but I sincerely believe that he is the ONE person who should not only be listened to but given MUCH more decision-making power and freedom in that system to steer the ship of Iran out of this HUGE Noah's storm which is coming its way if IRI fails to seize on the opportunity provided to it in President Obama's first term!

I believe IRI leadership should listen to this "God of Diplomacy", and listen to him carefully!!! Why do I think he has the most crucial and eye-opening things to say to Iranian leadership when it comes to setting the CORRECT and most expedient agenda for Iran's foreign policy in this very sensitive period of 4 years??? Well, it's all due to a sense of "INTUITION" I have, that intuition which Albert Einstein talked about as being extremely important!

Anyway, I'm sure if you tell Dr. Zarif there are people who think this strongly about you, he will respond with his typical modesty and may say that his former superiors and old bosses are equally as knowledgeable, but I do not believe so! I think they are (all of them, from left or right) too preoccupied and entangled with decades of mistrust for the "enemy" (the hostile, colonizing, manipulating and self-serving western powers) whom Iran has always perceived as bullies with malicious intentions toward its resources, threatening its sovereignty and independence (as evident in Iranian-British history as well as the 1953 Coup d' Etat by CIA). Therefore Iranian seasoned politicians are incapable of recognizing the truly fundamental CHANGE that has come and swept the world really with this Obama movement, but Dr. Zarif on the other hand, CAN understand this new America more than ANYBODY else with access to IRI, and that is why IRAN (as well as WORLD PEACE) needs him more than ever before, I'm absolutely convinced of it!

This is NOT the same America that Iran's politicians or even historians recognize, this is a NEW America, it's indeed a new world, and as long as the same old cynicism exists in people of both sides, opportunities will be lost, chances will be wasted, and a CLASH will become ever more eminent and unavoidable!

YOU just cannot allow that to happen, you owe it to 70 million Iranians to protect them and their beloved Iran who withstood the harshness and cruelty of a 2500 years history filled with foreign invasion and devastation, from Alexander to the Arabs, from Genghis Khan to the Turks, but will NOT be able to withstand the threat of a nuclear assault which is REAL if IRI continues to keep itself in the position of being called a "Pariah State"!!!

I will write more about this in the future, I have been writing too much lately! I also wanted to talk about Mr. Khatami's amazing speech at Tehran University yesterday, but this post is getting way too long, so I'll just leave this (English) link about it for your readers:

and will pick up this topic in my next comment. Again, Thank You for coming back!

Anonymous said...

good news for freedom loving Iranians:

I hope Iranians realize what a good impact all these developments are going to have on Iran's FREEDOM????
NOW the establishment "nezam" is going to NEED Khatami and the Reformists to help them SAVE the Islamic Republic of Iran!!!!
Long Live Obama!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it nice to see these political theaters being so masterfully played by politicians in countries that are at loggerheads but are too smart to go into war with each other???

I love these brilliant theaters! I guess there's a course called "Political Theater - 101" that ALL politicians take and have to pass successfully before they are allowed to run for any office, and apparently Bush and Larijani both had gotten the TOP score on their final exams in that course!!!
So, dear Kathy, Anna, Farzaneh, and all you other Persian Paradox readers who have been so worried about the state of WORLD PEACE and the chances of an Iran-USA war eventually inflaming the region into a WW-III, the moral of the story in these theatric masterpieces would be:

Don't Worry! Be Happy! ...