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Iranians debate parameters for a global role September 7, 2006

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, News, Politics.

Iranians debate parameters for a global role – The Boston Globe
Iran has never been certain who its allies should be. In the 19th century, Britain and Russia vied for influence. In the 20th century , largely Persian and Shi’ite Muslim Iran clashed with Sunni Arab neighbors. The shah allied with Israel to counterbalance the Arabs; the Islamic Republic went to war with Iraq. Now, with a Shi’ite -led government in Iraq and many Muslims across the world taking pride in Hezbollah’s tenacity, Iran has new hopes for its longstanding goal of exporting Islamic rule.

Soaring oil prices are allowing the government to dole out jobs to loyalists and business contracts to Revolutionary Guard officers, analysts say, masking rising unemployment. Still, the government had to rescind a 40-percent minimum wage hike this year, and many conservatives who like Ahmadinejad’s hard-line foreign policy object to his populist economic programs.

Some Iranian leaders are pushing for better ties with countries such as China, which has been less tough on Iran’s nuclear program. But those plans — such as building a pipeline across Afghanistan to India — probably can’t be realized without Western companies and financing, Takeyh said.

Leylaz, the economist, said that deep down, Iran knows it’s not as strong militarily and economically as it would like to be, which is why it won’t renounce nuclear weapons unless it receives security guarantees. He said domestic politics drive Ahmadinejad’s defiance and his anti-Israeli rhetoric to distract from growing economic and social problems and crush reformers.

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