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
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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.


Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

Updated 19 April 2019
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Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

  • Finance representatives of 150 government bodies meet for the Budget Forum 2020

RIYADH: Saudi finance chiefs have kicked off a major conference in the capital aimed at mapping out the Kingdom’s budget requirements.
Around 300 specialists representing 150 government bodies met at the InterContinental hotel in Riyadh for the Budget Forum 2020.
Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan welcomed delegates to the second edition of the gathering organized by the Saudi Finance Ministry under the slogan “Partnership and Empowerment.”
Al-Jadaan said the ministry was focused on “partnership and commitment,” and sought to share the challenge of developing an effective budget to achieve the Kingdom’s ambitious goals.
“We are also committed to empowering financial leaderships to learn about the ministry’s programs and projects and provide training and qualification opportunities to the best international standards,” he added.
The finance chief said the budget planning process required the collaboration of multiple authorities and a clear strategy based on transparency. 
Items up for discussion at the forum included financial planning in governmental bodies, automation, and the promotion of revenues and efficient spending.
Finance Ministry steering committee chairman, Abdul Aziz bin Saleh Al-Freih, stressed the importance of the forum in getting the ball rolling at an early stage on formulating a general state budget.
Workshops were held on the sidelines of the conference focused on empowering government organizations, and a training program on financial planning and income estimations was also staged.