Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 2010

The two brothers live in the poorer quarters in south Teheran.  Ehsan, the eldest brother of 26, is studying cooling systems engineering; he is a musician and a movie lover, especially keeping up with Al Pacino  and Robert De Niro films; he is not interested in politics.  Sadjad (carpet in Arabic) is 23 and studying Islamic jurisprudence at Tehran University.   When Ehsan was 8, he used to stop on his way from school and listen at a center of Sufis chanting and dancing and started to learn music.  By the time Sadjad was 8, the Islamic Republic had closed that center and he joined the basseji at age 8:  The basseji is a voluntary organization maintaining security in the streets at night such as arresting drug dealers, drunkards, women not wearing proper islamic garment, not married couples, and guiding school children to schools, and participating in vaccination campaigns . (more on the basseji later on).

The two brothers share the same room at their parental house and share the computer.  Ehsan writes to music and film blogs;  Sadjad surfs the basseji net and writes in the basseji blog; he watches only Iranian war movies.  Both brothers attend Ashoura (anniversary of the martyrdom of Hussein in 860 at Karbala by the Umayad caliph Yazid.  They join different groups in that crying and flagellation celebration:  Sadjad hits his chest violently with his palm for hours on while Ehsan just shares in the crying.  The Shias are trained from childhood to cry profusely at Ashura.

On Thursday night, representing Saturday night in Islamic States, Ehsan sees his girlfriend discretely while Sadjad is attending his weekly meeting with the Bassiji of the corner:  The bassiji pray and then listen to the mullah (cleric) explaining the Iranian and foreign political events.

The basseji is currently organized within the Republican Revolutionary Guards, a military organization equipped with better weapons than the army and obeying directly to the Supreme Guide Kamenei.  At the onset of the Islamic revolution in 1979, the basseji was instituted to round up the youth, indoctrinate them in Islamic religions, and make them useful and role models for not drinking alcohol or getting addicted to drugs.  The war broke with Iraq for 8 years in 1980 and the basseji were used as living mine detonators to clear a way for the more experienced soldiers; more than 300,000 kids of less than 15 years of age were “martyred in that was.  After the latest election in June 2009, the basseji were used as field repressive forces of marchers and demonstrators of the “green movement” supporters of Mir Hussein Moussavi.  The Revolution Guards would block the streets and the bassji would step down off their motorcycle and brandish batons and spray tear gas at the gathering of opposition members.

Ehsan tells me in a sad smile: “I am a curious type of guy; I love to experience everything and travel.  My brother is very content and seeks peace of mind within the framework of the basseji ideology”  The father of the brothers repairs carpet and participated actively during the Islamic revolution, but he feels discontented with the current President Ahmadinejad who humiliated Iranians’ intelligence and set the country decades back.”  The father is willing to believe that Sadjad does not carry batons to disperse demonstrators.

Sadjad feels bitter because the demonstrators insults with vile words even when he approaches them politely and talks to them calmly; he said: “and they claim to be intellectuals, lawyers, and physicians!  We are keeping the streets safe of murderers and drug traffickers and the only reward we get from these rich people is insults.  I feel very tired of ingratitude after all those non paid overtime hard tasks.  Last night I studied till midnight, slept for a couple of hours, and then up to my round on the block streets.  Yesterday, an opposition motorist purposely over ran my closest basseji friend and killed him”.  Ahmadinejad had extended privileges to the bassejis and organized them under the Revolution Guards after so many years of unpaid voluntary work.

Sadjad is not such a bad guy.  A couple of days, I was insulted by bassejis and he cooled it down and gave me his phone number.  When I met him at our appointment, he was carrying a bouquet of flower for me and a bottle of perfume so that I may accept his apology.

There are my documented stories of Russians and Germans betraying their fathers and members of their close family members for ideological basis; they were even acclaimed as hero and movie made of their “heroic” betrayal for the motherland and the one party.  You won’t hear such kinds of betrayal stories among Iranian families:  Family is the center of life and Iranian returns from overseas because they miss family bonding and the happy climate of friendship and Iranian joyful culture.  I think that government would not even contemplate any one betraying members of his family, encouraging, or allowing these kinds of treachery.

During the Lebanese civil war, youth either joined the fight with the militias or got associated with Red Cross and crisis units.  They volunteered and even brought their own food, sharing whatever they brought with everyone.  That is the way youth met during the civil war and got married later on.

Good democracy: “Next election, Party in power should lose”

The fundamental characteristic of an oiled democracy is that political processes are transparent:  All political parties and syndicates should be able to figure out the strategies of their opponents in a short time.

An oiled democratic system opens up data, documents, political discussions, political decisions and make them available for all political parties to access them within adequate time period so that opponents get aware of the projects, programs, a changing platforms of the government in power.

An oiled democracy affords consistent and timely comprehension of the equilibrium of political, economic, and social association forces in society:  Every serious political organizations should be able to know “what is in the best interest” of all the opposing organizations, if it works for its best interest.

There are two main types or concepts of democratic systems.

1. The first political tendency is that a democracy is not meant to create laws or institutions, and much less distributing the wealth of the nation, unless it is a temporary resolution of a conflict among the main political parties.

The winning Party in election has the privilege and right  to play the ultimate arbiter of social conflicts, if the various associations and organizations fail to reach a consensus.

In this democracy, the arbiter is not devoid of any power: the government is best positioned to know first hand the causes of the main conflicts, and thus, has the advantage of collecting complete and timely intelligence pieces on all the other opposing parties.

Having the facilities and prerogatives for gathering intelligence and fast information is the main leverage of the arbiter party in power in this type of democracy.  This type of democracy has not the duty of caring for social or economic inequalities in society so long as the citizen is guaranteed equal political rights, freedom of expressions, liberty of associating, and voting.

This democracy has the responsibility of neutralizing political inequalities since every citizen are equal in all political rights and responsibilities.

2. The second type of democracy is that the winning political party has to execute its political platform and programs that it promised the electing voters.  Consequently, the elected government has the responsibility and right of satisfying the wishes and wants of the majority.

The winning party is not concerned of facilitating the job of the opposition, if it can perform without. It is focused on creating laws and institutions that precipitate the execution of the platform.

Democracy is a battle field without the physical violence; though moral, ethical, and psychological violence are permitted to staying in power.

There are several factors that maintain democratic systems:

First, political rights are guaranteed, secured, and protected for every citizen such as voting, freedom of association, liberty of expression and opinion, running as candidate…

Second, the annual income for every citizen must not drop below a certain level:  Currently, it is estimated to be around $6,000 per year as a cut-off point.  (I guess this amount represents the average income of the lower middle class in any stable democracy.)

Third, democracy can be sustained if neighboring States enjoy stable democratic systems.

Fourth, status inequalities (economic or historical) are not codified in the system as an ideology (religious, political, or other forms).  This means, citizens should not feel they are excluded by laws from public facilities on the basis of color, gender, social origin, or ethnic background… In general, stable democracy institute a moral code of avoiding blatant exposure of inequalities and wealth.

Democratic systems are adapted to managing new situations that reflect changes in the relationship of organized social forces:  This is what election is supposed to reflect.

As for managing crisis, it is advisable that stable and specialized institutions for every particular major crisis not be restructured with every new government:  Election does not substitute for professionalism.

In many developing democracies, the outgoing government foments riots and violent marches  in order to preventing smooth transfer of power and make it very difficult for the new victor realizing its platform.

In all cases, democratic systems in developing states, with all their deficiencies, have demonstrated far better efficiency in sustained development.  Colonial powers spread the fraudulent culture that dictatorship periods are essential for development before democratic systems are tried out.

Colonial powers had vested interest of blocking competitions in deals with the previously colonized country by obstructing democratic control institutions.

Note 1:  Only in the last 50 years have US governments changed parties by democratic elections.  Prior to that time, winning parties stayed in power in 5 out of six elections.  The reasons maybe that communication (including transport and trade) was low and life-style was slower in changing for drastic political reforms to be demanded.

Note 2:  Adam Przeworski, political scientist at NYU, has analyzed 3,000 elections results to study trends and causes of stable democracies using statistical mathematical modeling.

Przeworski claims that India is a democracy that spends on elections more than on health budgets.  India system flaunts all criteria for democracy, and if it is still functioning, it is mainly that no dictatorship regime is willing to shoulder the terrible headache of running and managing this vast and populous State confronted with insurmountable problems.

Temporary marriage contracts: Sigheh and city of Mashhad (Iran)

The author of “Walk on my eyes; welcome” wrote:

“I interviewed Samaneh, a 52 year-old woman theologian teaching in the Iranian city of Mashhad.  All the main streets in Mashhad converge to the mausoleum of Imam Rida.

The Moslem Shias sect believe that Caliph Al Maamoun assassinated Rida by poisoning around 850 AC.  Mashhad receives 20 million pilgrims (visitors of Holy places) every year (twice greater than pilgrims heading to Mecca).  Actually, most pilgrims to Mashhad combine sincere prayers with sexual pleasures:  Mashhad is renown to be the city where prostitutes flock to in Iran.  Those who can afford it contract out temporary marriage or sigheh for the duration.

I asked Samaneh: “How can you reconcile this liberty of sexual conditions in Mashhad and the observed requirements in the Koran?”  Samaneh replied:

“Islam seeks happiness for its believers.  The sigheh is a real marriage with a contract defining the conditions and amount of money paid to the wife for a duration.  In the sigheh, the man and the woman are officially married.  This contract satisfies the basic needs for feeling happy, complete, and finding peace of mind until permanent marriages are feasible.”

Samaneh resumed: “Sigheh existed during the Prophet Muhammad’s period until the second caliph Omar banned this tradition.  Caliph Ali re-instituted the sigheh contract saying: “When wives are sick or when the husbands cannot wait longer than 5 years for sexual satisfaction then sigheh is better than committing sin.”

Samaneh continued: “In general, it is the divorced women and those who lost their husbands who ask for sigheh because it is not easy to remarry permanently after the first marriage.  Virgin girls have to get the permission from the father, grandfather, or one of the brothers.”

I asked Samaneh: “Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Abadi is demanding equal parts in inheritance because it is not fair that boys get twice the girls.”  Samaneh replied:

“Shirin has her ideas.  Personally I agree to equal shares:  Women have demonstrated to be better money managers than men.”

I asked Samaneh: “Shirin demands that the courts should accept a woman testimony as valid as man (the custom in Iran is that testimonies of two women equal one man’s testimony; In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to testify, period)”

Samaneh answered: “I once visited a prison and the men convicts cried sincerely telling me their stories as innocent men.  I believed that they were innocent until the ward showed me their documents.  Consequently, women are too emotional to testifying rationally in serious situations.”

I am currently reading “Three cups of tea” and the author mentioned that a Pakistani/Balti entrepreneur in Baltistan province (North Pakistan), who supplies European alpinists (mountain climbers), contract out several sigheh “zawaj Mout3a” each season with the foreign girls.

Note 1:  Sigheh is catching up in Sunni Moslem States thanks to the Saudis.  Egypt has been agreeing to contracting out temporary marriage since the establishment of the Saudi Kingdom:  The Saudi princes and the middle class in Saudi Arabia have increased their touristic trips to Egypt for easy, affordable, and lenient sexual pleasures.

The Saudi middle class cannot afford to marry 4 wives because they cannot afford equitable conditions for all wives. Thus, they seek new adventures out of borders, preferably with virgin child girls.  The Saudi royal family members prefer young boys when they travel for a change of 4 wives.

Syria is catching up on sigheh contracts since Iranians and Saudis are touring Syria more frequently than before.

Note 2:  The abridged interview and accounts are translated from the French book “Walk on my eyes; welcome” by Serge Michel and Paolo Woods.

Note 3: Are you aware of the legalized religious prostitution of one-hour sigheh contracts?

Sigheh: Temporary marriage contracts

Mohsen married twice by temporary marriage contracts called sigheh in Iran and “zawaj mut3a” in Arabic.

Virgin girls cannot marry sigheh without prior permission from the father, grandfather, or a brother.  Mohsen married with two divorced women.

The first time, one of the friends of Mohsen asked him to marry sigheh one of his sisters who got just divorced.  Mohsen got angry:  the friendship will be altered once he becomes brother-in-law.  Then, the father of his friend called Mohsen to consider marrying sigheh his divorced beautiful daughter.  The contract was for 6 months that can be renewed for another 6 months if the parties matched.

In Iran, the people who marry sigheh are not in any obligation of revealing the new co-habitation situation:  Mohsen lived in the city of Mashhad since Mohsen’s parents were living in Teheran, and they were not informed.  Since Mohsen had no apartment, he shared a room at his “in-laws” with his wife.

The only obligation was for Mohsen to dine on Friday’s nights with his in-laws.  Mohsen got used to joining his new family around the “sofreh” eating on the floor over a white cover.

Well, a cousin of his wife landed from the Netherlands and she decided to marry her cousin and not renew the sigheh after 18 months of temporary marriage.  Mohsen could not eat for an entire month and was depressed.

One day, a friend bought tickets for a bus trip to the Caspian Sea, north of Iran.  Since they could not join their girl friends on the bus, they decided to marry sigheh. The registration office of the contract was helpful and inscribed the marriage on their ID (giving the illusion that the marriage is permanent) so that they could get joint rooms in hotels.

Mohsen fell in love with his new wife and got very chatty and recounted their troublesome lives.  His wife says with a smile: “I don’t want to have more children.  Mohsen wants children.  Thus, I won’t be able to marry him permanently.  Anyway, Mohsen has better opportunities than me to building a stable family life.”

Note 1:  Permanent marriages in Iran are costly.  First, there are not enough apartments to rent. Second, the dowry fixed by the Koran is currently equivalent to $7,000 in Iran (100 camels, or 200 cows, or 1,000 head of sheep)

Note 2:  The abridged interview and accounts are translated from the French book “Walk on my eyes; welcome” by Serge Michel and Paolo Woods.

The five superpowers are abusing of a massive smoke screen to vilifying Iran’s nuclear program as a serious threat to world peace.  Why Russia and China went along?  It seems that the US gave the two States sizeable political concessions.  What about France and England, the lesser two “superpowers” with veto rights at the UN, meant to be the biggest losers in that agreement?  The oil multinationals of France and England have succumbed to the US pressures and are out of Iran.

Let us go back to the latest Presidential election in Iran in June 2009.  The western media and State governments shouted fraud and kept up the music loud and sustained the media pressure for a month until it died down.

The opposition candidate, Hussein Moussavi, had for allies the urban upper and middle classes, the bazar merchants, and the urban clerics or mullahs:  The urban mullahs wanted to weaken the Rahbar (Supreme Guide) Kamenei in order to regain lost power and re-dip freely in the treasury.  President Ahmadinejad had for allies the countryside, the poor clerics in the countryside, the bassidjis (Revolution Guards), and the majority of the lower middle class (the patriots aghast with western powers’ pressures) residing in the poorer quarters in urban centers.  It is to be noted that urban centers dwellers are as populous as countryside people in Iran.  The army had no interest supporting the opposition since Iran was embarking on self-sufficiency in manufacturing the military hardware:  The army was in no mood of renegotiating the defense budget.

Fact is, Ahmadi won the election.  The small margin was not appreciated by the Rahbar Kamenei.  The crackdown on the Moussavi’s “green movement” at the eve of the result counting and the following weeks was mainly a preemptive show of force meaning: “We have won.  Do not count on us to negotiating sharing power”.  More precisely, the Rahbar Khamenei was sending the strong message: “You, mullahs and Ayatollahs of urban centers in Teheran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Isfahan, you go to hell.  I am the Supreme Guide and I won’t be sharing power.”

The western powers got the Iranian message clear and loud: “This is not the proper time for Iran to bow down to foreign pressures,  Iran will be steadfast to its policy of putting Iran on the map among the great countries, having the means to demonstrating its independence, self-sufficiency, and self-autonomy to decision-making”

The “veto superpowers” decided to send a counter message: “We are the only ones to deciding who is to be a totally independent and self-sufficient State.” They voted on a stricter economic and military embargo.  The embargo is targeting the basseji (Revolutionary Guard) trade infrastructures that Ahmadi managed to institute as alternative competitor to the urban bazaars.  Anyway, the opposition lacks military organizations to counter the well-organized bassijis.

The embargo cannot hurt the lower middle class in Iran:  The government has opened up enough infrastructure projects to put this class to work.  The Revolutionary Guard has no alternative but to expand its businesses and to displacing the urban bazar merchants and wholesalers in the distribution of goods.  In medium-term, it is the middle class (the “green movement” opposition of this current government)  that will be crying “Uncle”.  But the US will feel helpless coming to their rescue:  The US will be striking deals with Ahmadi to getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan with the least cost possible.

My impression is that the blockade will not last effectively:  Russia and China have vast interests in Iran and are already worrying that the US is striking a deal with Iran at their expense.  Western Europe has most to lose in that conflict and will be sidetracked when the clouds clear-up:  France and England will scream “Uncle”.  But “Uncle Sam” is bankrupt and can no longer afford to extending another Marshal Plan to succor Europe.

The Iranian middle class of professionals and intellectuals have to get back to work; what they used to do in the US and overseas before they returned to Iran:  Working without shame and contributing to the effective nation’s production.  Working with and among the people is the foundation of individual dignity and means to efficient reforms:  The middle class in Iran has to stop playing coy.

Note:  Already Iran has secured an exit port to the Mediterranean Sea in Lebanon.  The latest extended visit of President Ahmadinejad to Lebanon was meant to fine tune his strategic position on the Mediterranean Sea as Iran will embark on producing inexpensive consumer goods.   It would be interesting for Lebanese merchants, with footholds in most of African States, to generating excellent profits when Iran begin building warehouses in Lebanese ports.  Most likely, Turkey will feel the heat for competition with its inexpensive goods, but most likely Iran and Turkey will iron out major divergences:  They have no alternatives but to cooperate closely.

Note 2: Empress Catherine of Russia managed an exit to the Black Sea “The jewel to my crown” in the late 18th century:  Currently, 80% of the Black Sea maritime trades as done by Russia merchant ships.

Welcome, “walk on my eyes”: Iran

“Walk on my eyes” or (Qadamet ro cheschm) is an expression of politeness in Iran to welcome someone home.  The Swiss journalist Serge Michel and the photographer Paolo Woods have been covering Iran, on and off, since 1998, every time the Iranian government felt the urge to be kept alive in world public eyes.  Serge and Paolo were asked to leave, a few weeks after the latest election in June 2009.  They witnessed the upheavals during and after the Iranian Presidential election.

Serge and Paolo realized that the Iranians are fundamentally a happy people, well comfortable in their environment and their culture.  They had the idea of “Happy Iran” as title.  Serge did some historical search and discovered that the Iranians or Persians (as the Syrians ans Lebanese) were not warriors, but merchants, artisans, traders, mariners, poets, and peasants: They hired war mercenaries during the successive Persian Empires. Warrior empires such as the Moguls, Afghans, Macedonians, Romans, Turks, and central Asian people conquered Iran since antiquity and ended up meshing with the Iranian culture and blend nicely within Iran.

This article is the first installment in reviewing the book and I will focus on the eye-witness accounts of the journalists prior, during, and after the election process.

It would be useful for a gross brush of the conditions In Iran before the June 2009 election.

The opposition candidate, Hussein Moussavi, had for allies the urban upper and middle classes, the bazar merchants, and the urban clerics or mullahs:  The urban mullahs wanted to weaken the Rahbar (Supreme Guide) Kamenei in order to regain lost power and re-dip freely in the treasury.  President Ahmadinejad had for allies the countryside, the poor clerics in the countryside, the bassidjis (Revolution Guards), and the majority of the lower middle class (the patriots aghast with western powers’ pressures) residing in the poorer quarters in urban centers.  It is to be noted that urban centers dwellers are as populous as countryside people in Iran.  The army had no interest supporting the opposition since Iran was embarking on self-sufficiency in manufacturing the military hardware:  The army was in no mood of renegotiating the defense budget.

Teheran June 3, 2009 (A week before election):  I listened to the televised debate Moussavi/Ahmadinejad with friends.  Over 50 million Iranians must have been watching this first in 30 years. Ahmadi exhibited an illegible document proving the wife of Moussavi got her teaching job at the university by fraud; he challenged Moussavi to declare the sources of his campaign funds (Ahmadi could draw from the government treasury).  Moussavi replied: “Your foreign policies are humiliating the dignity of the Iranians.  You are an exhibitionist, superstitious, and extremist President.”

In front of the TV station on Vali-Asr street, hundreds of Ahmadi’s supporters are chanting and beating their chests as during Ashura. They have converged from the poorer southern parts of Teheran.  The richer classes are concentrated in the northern parts.

Shiraz June 5:  Moussavi’s supporters, wearing green attire, are driving in private cars, in a long caravan for miles, waving green posters and honking all the way; a first in Iran in the last 30 years.  I am interviewing a Pasdar (revolutionary guard); as we passed a shop selling western DVD movies the Pasdar said: “As the election is over, these kinds of shops will be closed.”

Teheran, June 8: A night manifestation by Moussavi’s supporters at Palestine Square.  They are chanting “Death to the little dictator”.  They are university students of Amir Abad:  In 1999, the bassidjis killed several students and a week-long of riots ensued.  The march ends at 4 am.

Teheran June 9:  Big gathering of Moussavi’s supporters at the Vali-Asr Square.  Everything is in color green: T-shirts, baseball caps, veils, flags, and ribbons.  Ahmadi had recently distributed potatoes to the needy quarters in Teheran.  The masses of Moussavi are chanting “Potato government.  I don’t want” and “Ahmadi bye-bye.”  It was a march of two hours.

Teheran June 10:  The election campaign is to end at midnight, but Moussavi’s supporters are enjoying a victory carnival.  Sound tracks are blasting and people are dancing in the streets.  A couple of female teenagers are chanting: “A week, two weeks that Ahmadi had not taken a shower.”

Teheran 12:  Election Day.  Moussavi’s supporters are joyous and confident in victory.  Long files on voting booths in the northern parts of Teheran.  In the evening, F calls me crying: “I am in Moussavi headquarter. The bassidjis attacked us with sticks and destroyed our computers.  They arrested the managers.  The police has sealed our center. It is a State coup.”  The bassidjis have clamped down on the Moussavi daily on Zartocht Street.  Columns of military trucks are celebrating.  Moussavi had declared at 11 pm: “The minister of the Interior told me that I won the election”

Teheran June 13:  The forces of order are massively present in front of the ministry of the Interior where the voting polls are counted.  The forces had disbanded a demonstration in the morning and arrested 20 people. A violent combat is taking place on Vanak Square and tear gas are used.  People burn newspaper sheets to counter the effects of tear gas. The night is witnessing pockets of resistance; buses are burned and grandmothers are burning waste bins on the streets.  A friend tells me a joke: “Ahmadi split his hair in two parts:  the right part for male lice and the left for the female counterparts.”

Teheran June 14:  Ahmadi delivers his victory speech at Vali-Asr Square; he lambasted his opponents as detritus and bad losers; hooligans after football games.

Teheran June 15: Maybe two million are marching from Enkilab (Revolution) Square toward Azadi (Liberty) Square.  Balconies are empty: everybody descended to the streets chanting: “Who voted for this monkey?”; “Yo, atomic athlete, you must be tired, Go home.”

Teheran June 16:  A young girl enters the fast food establishment and changes her green veil to a black one.  She told me: “I managed to escape the bassidjis”  After she ate her roasted chicken she paid with a 5,000 toumans  ($4) bill; the bill had a poem scribbled in a green ink: “The detritus is you; the passion is me.  Cruelty is you; impetuouss is me.  Iran is mine.”  Ahmadi’s manifestation took place at 3 pm and the Moussavi demonstration at 5 pm at the Vanak Place.

Teheran June 17:  Moussavi’s manifestation is marching from Haft-e Tir to the university.  The timing of the march is set 30 minutes after the portable phones are disconnected and the gathering place is known by word of mouth.  It seems that the Iranians rekindled old-time communication habits after the government began shutting down phone lines. A banner inscribed a poem by Hamid Mossadegh: “denounce the dishonests. Rekindle oriental solidarity.  If I get up and you get up, everyone will get up.”

Teheran June 18:  Moussavi is acclaimed as a rock star at the Ferdowsi Place.

Teheran June 19, a Friday:  Kamenei deliver a speech at the mosque.  Everyone already know what is the message and that England will be the target.  Ahmadi leaves in a 4*4 and briefly waves: a thunderous acclaim greets him.

For a month, the “green movement” never missed an occasion or an event to gather on mass.  In Iran, every week has major events to celebrate or to remember: religious dates, anniversaries of martyrs, Jerusalem Day… During Ashura, Moussavi’s supporters chanted “Mir-Hossein” instead of “Ya Hussein.”  Every night, chanting emanate from rooftops “Death to the dictator” and “Allah Akbar”.  For the anniversary of the revolution in Feb. 2010, the TV was asked not to show sections of demonstrations against the Shah: they reminded the people of the current furors.

Adonis49 opinion:  Ahmadi won the election.  The small margin was not appreciated by the Rahbar Kamenei.  The crackdown on the Moussavi’s “green movement” at the eve of the result counting and the following weeks was mainly a preemptive show of force meaning: “We have won.  Do not count on us to negotiating sharing power”.  More precisely, the Rahbar Khamenei was sending the strong message: “You, mullahs and Ayatollahs of urban centers in Teheran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Isfahan, you go to hell.  I am the Supreme Guide and I won’t be sharing power.””

Civil wars in less developed “liberal democracies”

There are major differences between developed and developing liberal democracies.

Before I expand with an example, there are 3 major factors for discriminating various liberal democracies:

First, developed liberal democracies have stable and sustainable institutions to evaluating and proposing reforms based on specific programs.   Developing democracies are skin-deep clones of colonial systems that didn’t match the level of consciousness and awareness of the natives in real applications. Consequently, the lack of institutions to follow-up on any draft program for reforms generated haphazard systems that kept mutating as new “military” leaders came to power.

Second, developed democracies have diversified economic bases in services, industries, and agriculture.  Statistics are kept and serious budgets are presented yearly.  This is not the case in developing “democracies”.

Third, cultural and educational activities are affordable in developed democracies.  Public libraries and community facilities are spread out all over the land.  Thus, learning and culture are not exclusive to the elite classes: Common people have vast opportunities to be learned and free reflecting citizens if they wish and want to.  This is not the case in developing democracies where activities are concentrated in the capitals of States. The other main differences can be explained explicitly with examples.

Let me consider the case of Lebanon. 

Lebanon experienced a savaged civil war in 1975 that lasted 13 years; the war harvested 10% in casualties of the population (300,000 among dead, physically handicapped, and mentally disabled). The wart also affected 30% of the population in the forms of transfer to other localities, immigration, poverty, and family dislocation.

Before the civil war, Lebanon enjoyed a semi liberal democracy that set this State system apart from the surrounding Arab States political systems.  A semi liberal democracy means that the elite class (including the clerics of 19 religious sects) hold the levers for electing deputies and municipal councils that represent their interests: they were grabbing the power and went overboard since major reforms could not be attained without sustained and pragmatic programs from the political movement.  Election laws are fundamentally biased toward the elite class in finance and feudal standing.

Lebanon of 1974, a year prior to the civil war, and particularly the Capital Beirut, experienced extraordinarily cultural, social, and political activities, quantitatively and qualitatively.

First, the number of women writers increased dramatically.  As Georges Rassi wrote: “In the Arab World, every woman writer is worth 100 free minded men”.

Second, many famous authors and poets opted to write columns in dailies; a move that brought them in close touch with the people and the daily difficulties.

Third, artists and thinkers from all over the Arab World settled in Beirut.  Most of these intellectuals were fleeing oppression and persecution for free expressions.  The Egyptian intellectuals flocked in great number as President Sadat had decided to connect with Israel and leave the Arab problems and the Palestinian cause way behind.

Fourth, the Lebanese TV witnessed a big jump in quality of local productions thanks to the director Paul Tannous.

Fifth, many cultural clubs were instituted and Arab States organized exhibitions and cultural events.

Most importantly, women became very vocal and active for women rights and drastic reforms in the laws and social awareness.

Late author Mai Ghoussoub was very young at the start of the war, but she was one of the leaders of “Committees for Free women.”  Initially, men were permitted to join in the discussions until they proved to be elements of heckling and disturbances.  The committees of free women decided to meet among women because their cause must be priority in urgent reforms and not a usual side-show tackled by reformist political parties.

There were plenty of excuses, and still being voiced, laying the blame on regional and foreign powers battling for their interests and differences in Lebanon at Lebanon’s expense.

That may be the tip of the iceberg of material evidences hiding the real fundamental reasons.  Fact is, all regional and international powers had their secret agencies and services, their political parties, their dailies, magazines, airwaves and their representatives in the Parliament, executive branch and directors of public institutions.  In a fragile system based on 19 religious sects playing the role of civil administrators of their caste members.

It is interesting that France and the USA were battling out the Lebanese radio airwaves.  It is reasonable to foresee what happens when reforms are voiced in demonstrations and marches when the rest of the Lebanese were entirely ignored by the central government and the political movements.

Outside Beirut, the Lebanese were living the same traditional culture as during the Ottoman Empire and organized under the caste system of religious sect and feudal landlords.

It was a great opportunity to realizing Ben Gurion strategy:

“The Zionist State has two main enemies:  the religious and ethnic diversities in Lebanon and Iraq.  These two States have to be disintegrated into ethnic cantons”  Kissinger of the US and the Egyptian President Sadat made sure to pull this civil war to its devastating consequences.

It is to be noticed that successful civil wars were realized in developed nations at the time of the upheaval, such as England, France and the USA: There was always a winner.

Note 1:  A sample of authors and theater directors most active in the two years prior to the civil war in Beirut were:  Rahbani brothers, Saadallah Wanous, Nabih Abu Hassan, Dored Laham, Chouchou, Borge Vaselian, Khaldoun Tannir, Nidal Ashkar, Mohammad Maghout, Ziad Rahbani, Chakib Khoury, Maurice Maaluf, Jalal Khoury, Issam Mahfouz, Antoine and Latifeh Multaka, Ussama Aref…

Note 2: A sample of the most active cinema directors are:  Maroun Baghdadi, Jean Cham3oun, Silvio Tabet, Samir Ghossayn, Samir nasri, Berhane Alawiyeh, Heini Srour, Rafic Hajjar, Akhdar Hamina, Nabil Maleh…

The economy did not restart.  The effective rate of unemployed citizens is increasing and converging to the dangerous critical mark of 20%.  That means 12% of the lower middle class citizens are jobless.  The Real Estates bubble is still infected.  Bursting the abscess of property ownership is not for any time soon for good reasons:  most foreclosures are illegal.  The documents of property ownership, amassed in the last three decades by banks and financial institutions, do not exist or are not available.

Paul Krugman, Nobel of economics for 2008, explains. Property rights are badly defined since nobody possesses  adequate documents for ownership.  In most cases, proper documents do not exist:  many loans have been extended by shady financial organizations intent on “showing numbers”.  The mortgages were sold to “funds” ad hoc that dismantled the loans into financial products and supported by mortgage borrowing.

The laws demand that these “funds” obtain the titles of mortgages detailing the obligations of the owners.  These legal formalities were considered to be useless and thus, were neglected by the financial institutions.  Consequently, most current foreclosures are illegal.  Facing this judicial nightmare, the courts are currently relying on sworn testimony of banks with written declarations signed by “robo-signers” or employees having no idea what they are signing on, simply because supervisors ordered them to sign.

The code order from the government to the justice system is: “If a bank declares to own a property then, you have to take their words for granted.”  The problem is that the “funds” cannot produce proper documents of ownership.  The mandatory parties (the financial institutions saved by the government after the crisis) can be sued by investors who bought the titles to ownership; these titles have fractions of their nominal values.

In my previous three articles I discussed reforms for this liberal capitalist democracy.  In this post I want to extend a reasonable way out for the bursting of the Real Estates bubble fiasco that is dooming the system to another financial crisis soon. Since the government has the legitimacy of creating the proper rights for ownership I suggest this proposal.  How about all properties “owned” by banks and financial institutions be considered as rented by the government for a short duration until laws of ownership are revised and proper documents delineated to be needed for property titles like the good old times?

It is advisable that reformed election laws that adequately represent the lower middle class and women be instituted to discussing property laws. If reforms are not to pass “peacefully and democratically”, at least, the next financial crisis will be postponed as the government is renting properties that lack legal documents for titles. People can still purchase these rented properties and State governments can extend the lease to 30 years.

The “Old Money” of the 1% oligarchy, capturing 30% of the nation’s wealth in the capitalist liberal democracy of the USA, knew of the incoming latest financial crash:  their immediate code order after the crisis was “Regaining confidence in our capitalist brand system”.   The code order meant “The common people must have lost hope that our political, social, and economic structure can continue to work as usual.  We must find a tactical scheme that extends hope that “change is very possible in our one century old-established system”.  The people must be worked upon to be re-convinced that our system is the only alternative to producing wealth; that the trickle down policy of the rich reaping the profit first before the scraps are re-distributed is still the most valid structure to contributing to a stable economy.”

Since economic reforms are out of the question and that restarting the economy any time soon is not feasible then,  a quick and dirty smoke screen effect scheme was to be generated.  The oligarchy, aided by the unethical technocrats, devised a diabolic believable smoke screen: “Let us elect a charismatic “Black Citizen” for President of the Republic. At least we will have demonstrated that our liberal democracy can absorb social change”  This scheme hides the untold purpose: The capitalist superstructure behind this ideological liberal democracy will resume functioning and will try to re-establishing security and stability in economic life after the people is exhausted and his savings depleted.

The Obama ticket did the job wonderfully.  Obama spread the requisite hope of  “confidence” in fantastic rhetorical speeches.  Then, Obama was put on short leach in order not to institute dangerous euphoric hopes that could run overboard.  The limited national health care coverage reform passed with the requisite roadblocks:  Reforms should not be taken for granted and done quickly because the people want it.  No other serious reforms were put on the table for discussion and for making decisions:  Just mentioning reasonable financial reforms were too dangerous to start with.

It does not look promising in the near future for any reforms.  The Republicans and the Democrats are sharing the same oligarchic bed and just sending angry smoke screens working on people’s fears of instability and insecurity.

Note:  I do not necessarily include the billionaires of the last two decades in the 1% oligarchy:  They might be more willing to support reasonable reforms to this brand of capitalism.




October 2010

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