Iran has failed its people, say experts

A session in progress at Rasanah’s conference in Riyadh to discuss the impact of the 1979 revolution in Iran. (AN photo)
Updated 10 February 2019
0

Iran has failed its people, say experts

  • Iran fared better with its military ambitions, said Al-Sulami, developing homegrown weapons or working in cooperation with Russia, China and North Korea
  • Tehran’s regional role, nuclear program discussed

RIYADH: Iran has failed to fulfill the aspirations of its people, a Saudi think tank said on Sunday ahead of the 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution.
Speakers at a conference organized by the Riyadh-based International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah) said citizens had been ignored in favor of foreign militias and ideology, leading to protests and unrest in the country.
Iranians were happy after the revolution as they thought the Shah of Iran’s political dictatorship and the repression of his secret security forces had ended, said the president and founder of Rasanah, Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami.
“They aspired to see a better socioeconomic and political life, given the ambitious promises by the new political system including free water, electricity, and gas to people, and those who did not have a home would be able to buy a new one in a brief period,” he told the conference. “However, as days and years passed, these promises evaporated … things began to deteriorate with poverty, unemployment, and inflation rising.”
Iran fared better with its military ambitions, said Al-Sulami, developing homegrown weapons or working in cooperation with Russia, China and North Korea.
It stepped up efforts to develop a nuclear and missile program but failed to upgrade its air fleet, he said, adding that Iranians saw the country’s resources were not being used to improve living standards.
There was also an impact on Iran’s relations with its Arab neighbors because of regional developments and Tehran’s tendency to create new militias and support old ones, the conference heard.
Al-Sulami accused Iran of planting spies overseas and focusing on nonstate actors from Lebanon in the north to Yemen in the south and recruiting mercenaries from South Asian countries to fight on the side of the Syrian regime.
There were now external pressures, economic hardships and sanctions, he told the conference, in addition to domestic unrest among a middle class that wanted political reforms and freedom. This discontent could also be found in small towns and rural areas, he added.
Protests have been raging since December 2017 and there was growing anger toward Tehran, including against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, he said.
Sunday’s conference was divided into three sessions.
The first session discussed views from inside Iran, successes and failures. The second was about Iran and the international community, while the third was about Iran's future amid external pressures and internal challenges.
Mohammed Al-Remaihi, a professor of political sociology at Kuwait University, said the very idea of an Islamic republic was questionable.
There was a nonelected supreme leader who did not care about the will of the people, there were restrictions on freedom and the regime was busy playing a destructive role in the region, he told the conference.
There were forces working for regime change, he added, and they were backed by people who were unhappy with the high unemployment rate. Fawaz Al-Fawaz, an economic adviser, highlighted the impact of sanctions, corruption, demographic challenges and economic complexities in Iran in the last four decades.
He said there were several issues — such as national debt, high inflation and the falling value of the Iranian riyal — that were worrying Iranians. Conference speakers also talked about Iran’s nuclear program, its ideological propaganda and its interventions into the domestic matters of Arab countries.


Crown prince award ‘will build Saudi-Sino cultural bridges’

Updated 22 February 2019
0

Crown prince award ‘will build Saudi-Sino cultural bridges’

ARAB NEWS BEIJING: Leading academics and literary talents from Saudi Arabia and China will be honored under an award scheme sponsored by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan announced the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Award for Cultural Cooperation between the Kingdom and China during a visit to King Abdul Aziz Public Library at Peking University in Beijing on Thursday.
The announcement was made on the eve of the Saudi crown prince’s visit to China, the latest stop on an Asian tour.
The cultural cooperation award will honor leading academics, translators and high-achievers from the Kingdom and China in the categories: Best scientific research in Arabic, best artistic work, best Chinese-Arabic book translation and vice versa, person of the year, and most influential person of the year in the cultural milieu.
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan said: “This partnership is in the name of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and represents the common commitment to build cultural bridges between the two countries, developing cultural exchange, and promoting artistic and academic opportunities for our citizens.”
He said the yearly award will promote language, literature, and Arabic and creative arts in China, and encourage cultural exchange.
The Kingdom and China have a long history of cultural cooperation, including the annual Arabic Arts Festival.
The King Abdul Aziz Public Library at Peking University was inaugurated in 2017 during King Salman’s official visit to China, where he received an honorary doctorate degree.