(Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty) | February 19, 2010
The chants of “death to the dictator” have been temporarily stilled since Iran’s Green Movement was muscled off the streets during the 31st anniversary celebrations of the Islamic Revolution on February 11.
But political slogans and charges of stolen presidential elections are just part of the explosive mix that keeps the Green Movement alive.
Equally important is frustration over Iran’s double-digit unemployment rate and the usually double-digit inflation rate. It is this frustration that ultimately may be more dangerous for the regime than electoral grievances.
The anger over the economy pits Iran’s modernists, who believe growth comes with capital investments and a strong private sector, against President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s more idiosyncratic vision of economics. That vision puts a priority on handouts to the impoverished while the state-dominated economy creates few jobs and survives mostly thanks to Iran’s oil income.
The controversy over the president’s economic policies is rarely heard outside Iran, but rages inside the country itself. It can often be heard on the talk shows of foreign stations broadcasting to Iran in Persian, as both Ahmadinejad’s supporters and opponents weigh in.