Friday, August 27, 2010


IWPR has an article uncovering some of the political sinews moving events in Iran away from the Green Movement. It highlights the opposition between the Ahmadinejad administration and a traditional conservative political party called Motalefeh. Here's the economic component:
"Motalefeh also has effective control of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation, the largest charity in the Middle East and also the Islamic Economic Organisation, which comprises 1,200 trusts and quasi-banks that issue loans to the public. Together with the Revolutionary Guards Corps, Motalefeh members hold controlling shares in several companies including the Rezvan industrial corporation, a gas pipeline project in South Pars, and even a software company called Ada-Afzar.

"Nor should one forget the enduring influence of the bazaar traders in every major Iranian city. In addition to actual trading, they handle much of the financing for trade, and have been the dominant force in Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines for the past 30 years."

After reading Keshavarzian's book, I wonder if the author isn't slightly over-stating the bazaar's economic importance, which has declined during the past 30 years, though a word like "much" is fairly vague. The article does tie Motalefeh to the bazaar and the July bazaar strike by saying that the Society of Islamic Guild and Bazaar Associations, which provided the impetus for the strike, is close to Motalefeh, which makes sense given organizational attention the state gave the bazaar during the 1980's and 1990's. On the point about companies, since the IRGC's economic influence is fairly new and an important development under Ahmadinejad, it stands to reason that when the article talks about party members sharing influence with the IRGC, the background is that they used to have a lot more of the influence, but have lost it in part due to a lack of political influence under Ahmadinejad.

There's also this note about what has happened in the bazaar since the strike:
"But the government was not about to give up so easily. Shortly before the month of Ramadan in early August, there was an upsurge in official inspections of the traditional guilds that run the bazaars as well as of individual merchants. In July, 39,000 cases of breaches of trading regulations were brought against them, and hefty fines were imposed for alleged profiteering.

"The government campaign drew a fierce riposte from the guild association’s head, Ahmad Karimi Isfahani, who said these actions were illegal and politically-motivated."

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



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