خانه > یادداشت ها > Bazaari Criticism of Ahmadinejad Bursts into the Open

Bazaari Criticism of Ahmadinejad Bursts into the Open

TEHRAN—Recent strikes in Tehran’s bazaar have made the unrest the center of political and economic discussions in Iran. The dispute between the government and the bazaar is more important than other political conflicts because in the eyes of most Iranians, the bazaar is the traditional ally of the Islamic Republic and even played a significant role in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Now that the bazaar is at odds with the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, many observers wonder if the true reason behind these strikes are tax hikes or if there are other political and economic motives behind bazaar’s bold move


Most bazaaris in Iran come from the more traditional, religious, and very conservative segment of society. They are firm believers in the right to own private property, and they oppose leftist policies limiting ownership and the bazaar’s operations. Members of the bazaar also do not favor political or social liberalization. This was the main reason they supported Ahmadinejad’s bid for reelection, despite their criticism of the populist president in private.

In recent weeks, however, the bazaar’s opposition to Ahmadinejad has moved beyond private discussions and has entered the media. In the past, the bazaaris expressed their opposition to Ahmadinejad’s policies, such as allowing women to go to athletic stadiums, in a discrete manner solely out of fear for a common enemy—the reformists.

Increasing tensions between the government and bazaaris are caused by two main factors. First, street protests and demonstrations in Iran have ended, and the government can no longer accuse its critics of “supporting the rioters.” Ali Motahhari, a prominent conservative, told Mir Hossein Moussavi, the de-facto leader of the opposition, that as soon as Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi end their protests, other political figures can now criticize and undermine Ahmadinejad without fearing for their political futures. Motahhari explained that conservatives such as himself need to wait until the protests by the Green Movement end so that their grievances will not be dismissed as those being articulated by the opposition.

Second, Ahmadinejad and some of his allies have major differences with senior clerics over a number of issues such as hijab (wearing headscarves) and their view on the role of traditional clergy. Ahmadinejad is a populist and is trying to distance himself from conservative clerics. He believes this would boost his popularity among the masses, given that the clergy has been on the decline in recent years. Ahmadinejad even defended men who chose to shave their beards and wear neckties; a move that was condemned by clerics such as Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, one of Tehran’s Friday prayer leaders.

It is thus clear why traditional and conservative clerics use the bazaar as a pressure mechanism in order to punish Ahmadinejad and demonstrate their power and influence. However, this is certainly not the only reason behind strikes in the bazaar.

In recent years, a number of reasons, such as economic recession, weak purchasing power of consumers, economic sanctions, smuggling of goods and merchandise, and the flow of cheap Chinese goods in the market have angered the bazaaris. In addition to the factors mentioned above, there has been a new wave of young, new bazaaris who are not as traditional as the old guard and do not ally themselves with traditional bazaari parties such as the Islamic Coalition.

Regardless of the scope of these strikes, and the importance of the bazaar today, these strikes cannot be compared to those of the Shah’s time. Members of the bazaar have always enjoyed special privileges in the Islamic Republic and have maintained very good ties with the ruling elite. Furthermore, religion and religious institutions are deeply rooted in the bazaar and this has created an unbreakable alliance between the clergy and the bazaar.

If the opposition in Iran decides to play a role in the bazaar strikes, or any tensions between the bazaar and the central government, they will face a number of challenges and opportunities. Their opportunity might come from the new class of bazaaris comprised of the younger generation. This new generation is more connected to the rest of the world and understands the needs of its own generation. Their numbers are increasing day by day, and the old guard, although still a solid majority in the bazaar, is shrinking.

But there are challenges for the opposition, too. Secular and liberal tendencies within the Green Movement worry about the conservative, traditional, and even anti-Ahmadinejad wings of the bazaar. Fearing the liberal tendencies of the Green Movement, this sector of bazaaris would run into the arms of the government, which shares some of their ideological concerns. If the leaders of the Green Movement aspire to play a role in bazaar’s protests, they must refrain from ideological and political fights and solely focus on the economic and fiscal problems facing the bazaar.

Another factor that can bring the bazaar and the opposition closer to each other is the role of the government. Mistakes made by the government and their impact should never be underestimated. Continuation of failed economic policies by the Ahmadinejad administration and further pressure on Iran by the international community can further intensify the economic crisis in Iran and alienate some parts of this important, influential group of merchants.

Nejat Bahrami is a commentator in Iran

http://www.insideiran.org/featured/bazaari-criticism-of-ahmadinejad-bursts-into-the-open/

Advertisements
دسته‌ها:یادداشت ها
  1. هنوز دیدگاهی داده نشده است.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

نظر شما برای ما بسیار مهم است

در پایین مشخصات خود را پر کنید یا برای ورود روی شمایل‌ها کلیک نمایید:

نشان‌وارهٔ وردپرس.کام

شما در حال بیان دیدگاه با حساب کاربری WordPress.com خود هستید. بیرون رفتن / تغییر دادن )

تصویر توییتر

شما در حال بیان دیدگاه با حساب کاربری Twitter خود هستید. بیرون رفتن / تغییر دادن )

عکس فیسبوک

شما در حال بیان دیدگاه با حساب کاربری Facebook خود هستید. بیرون رفتن / تغییر دادن )

عکس گوگل+

شما در حال بیان دیدگاه با حساب کاربری Google+ خود هستید. بیرون رفتن / تغییر دادن )

درحال اتصال به %s