By Hossein Mohammadi, Rooz Online
Some of the IRGC commanders (file photo)
Even as various reports indicate a worsening of economic conditions in Iran and parliamentary representatives have spoken of a 40 percent drop in oil revenues in the first six months of the year, two Revolutionary Guard officials insist on continuing to reject “talks with the US” with one having said, “We are only at the start of the road,” adding that such talks “would not result in alleviation of inflation” and other problems facing the country.
The Shrinking National Budget
Economic conditions in Iran continue to worsen as indicated by statements of its officials and public figures. Gholamreza Assadollahi, a member of Majlis’ budget committee announced last week that 40 percent of the planned oil revenues for the first six months of the Iranian calendar year (which began on March 21st) did not materialize because of “a reduction in the sale of oil and the serious restrictions in the transfer of oil income.” He called for a reduced income budget for next year and for less reliance on oil income.
In the meantime, South Korea, Iran’s fourth largest oil importer has announced that it planned to reduce the volume of its oil imports from Iran by 20 percent by the coming spring. It intends to reduce its imports by 40 thousand barrels a day.
The United States and the European Union have both passed legislation against the Iranian oil and gas industries for the country’s defiance of international demands over its elusive nuclear activities. The US has also passed legislation through which every six months it requests buyers of Iranian oil to further reduce the volume of oil they buy from Iran, or face American sanctions. Last week, the US announced it was extending its 180-day waivers to China, India, Japan and South Korea in exchange for reductions in their oil purchases from Iran, indicating that these countries have been and will continue to reduce their oil imports from this source.
Iran’s customs has published a report indicating that the export of propane from Iran has now dropped off to the low 900 million Dollar level compared to 2.5 billion Dollars of sales the previous year.
Rahim Mombini, Iran president’s budget and planning deputy announced last week that the country’s budget for next year would be written with “much less reliance on oil,” Following this announcement, news reports indicated that officials were talked about the next budget being “resistance oriented” rather than “developmental,” foregoing allowing for the allocation of funds for economic resistance goals, resulting in the scrapping of many development projects underway. Officials had warned that many economic projects would be suspended because of shortage of funds.
Crisis in Production Units
Tasnim website quotes a “Special Report of a Ministry” and writes that crisis and closures in production plants have sharply increased between 2009 and 2012. There were 441 production plans across the country suffering from economic woes in 2009 while the number had increased to 1,599 units in the current year.
This report was published at a time when Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghadam, the head of Majlis’ plan and budget committed had said earlier that production units in Iran were operating at only 30 percent capacity. Ruhollah Beygi, the deputy chairman of Majlis’ economic committee had spoken of some 60 to 70 percent closures in Iranian manufacturing plans, adding that the remaining plants were rapidly moving in the same direction.
Gholamreza Tajgardoon, a member of the ideologue Principlist faction in the Majlis had also criticized Ahmadinejad’s administration and said that, “The administration was poorly managing the sanctioned economy of Iran as our resources were easily burned up while no one was accountable to the wastage of the country’s resources. Inflation had reached 58 percent. Why were 11 billion Rials (about 350,000 Dollars) spent on importing cars last year?”
We Are Only at Start of the Road
With this state of the economy and conditions around the country, some commanders and members of Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guards continue to oppose talks with the US. Hossein Karimi Aval, the vice-commander of the force in Ninva Golestan province recently said, “Unfortunately some people in the country, whether Principlist, seditionist or reformist, call for talks with the US to resolve our inflation problems. I tell this group that this is an illusion. We are in fact only at the start of the road. Do you really believe that the US which is symbol of capitalism and profit-centered would leave us alone? Would the 1 percent that rules over the 99 percent tax paying people and has no merci on people leave us alone and help us? They will not leave us with their psychological war against us until they take (destroy) our ideals and values from us. What some of these people inside the country are saying are mere illusions.”
Mohammad Sedaghat, the representative of Iran’s supreme leader in the Revolutionary Guards Navy echoed these words. He called talks with the US to mean “aligning ourselves with cruelty and turning our backs to our revolutionary ideals.” He continued, “Some politicians believe that by talking with the US some of our problems will be solved, but they are deeply mistaken. A look at some of the regimes with which the US has relations indicates that relations with the Great Satan do not solve any problems.”
Prior to these remarks, hardline Kayhan newspaper whose editor is directly appointed by the supreme leader of the country had written in a note that “some exhausted revolutionaries” intended to “pressure the supreme leader” on the pretext of dealing with the sanctions against the country and by “exaggerating the impact of economic and financial sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union.” The newspaper wrote that the ultimate purpose of such pressures from inside the country was to force the supreme leader to drink another chalice of poison (a reference to what ayatollah Khomeini said he had to do when he accepted the UN brokered cease-fire with Iraq to end the 8-year war) and retreat from the revolutionary ideals he has taken. “Exhausted revolutionaries want to establish friend relations with the enemies of the revolution by pursing soft and pragmatic policies,” the note wrote.
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