Un recentissimo articolo di Kenneth Pollack, un docente/ricercatore statunitense, ex analista CIA, considerato un’autorità sull’Iran.
L’articolo è pubblicato sulla "Middle East Review of International Affairs"
This article discusses potential futures for Iran, taking into account international, domestic, political, and economic issues. It analyzes the question of Iran’s nuclear efforts focusing on three possible outcomes: 1) a victory for the hardliners and continuation of the nuclear program; 2) the pragmatists and reformers prevail and the Iranians make concessions in order to prevent sanctions; or 3) a prolonged stalemate between Iran and the international community.
The critical issue facing Iran today is its nuclear stand-off with the international community. While this point is self-evident, what is often not is that the resolution of this crisis is likely to affect profoundly the future course of the Islamic Republic of Iran, not just in terms of its foreign policy, but also in terms of its domestic politics, its economy, and potentially even the nature of the state itself. Within the Iranian regime, the nuclear stand-off is intimately bound up with a series of other critical issues–Iran’s relationship with the West, economic reform, and the legacy of the 1978 revolution. Thus, the outcome of the nuclear crisis is likely to affect, if not determine, the outcome of these other debates, which in turn are vital to Iran’s medium- and possibly long-term future. It is for this reason that the nuclear stand-off has the potential to shape Iran’s future in areas far beyond the traditional security sphere.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NUCLEAR STAND-OFF IN THE ECONOMIC SPHERE
Iran’s economy is in desperate need of reform. It is crippled by corruption, with an estimated 40 percent of Iranian GDP accounted for by the Bonyads–nominally charitable foundations established to administer the Shah’s assets on behalf of the Iranian people, but in actuality massive corruption machines that bankroll the senior leadership. The problem of corruption has reduced liquidity, frightened off investment, boosted inflation, spurred widespread unemployment, diminished non-oil exports, impoverished the middle class, and created a very serious gap between rich and poor. Iranian economists regularly observe that Iran must either embark on a major anti-corruption campaign or else find ways to generate huge amounts of investment in the Iranian economy. Indeed, Iran’s latest five-year plan calls for $20 billion in investment every year, in addition to $70 billion to recapitalize Iran’s decrepit oil industry.
The problem for Tehran, as many Iranian economists note, is that there are only three capital markets in the world capable of generating such levels of investment in Iran over the next five to ten years: the United States, Europe, and Japan. Much as Iranian hardliners would like to believe that the Russians, Chinese, and Indians could substitute for the West, they cannot–and will not be in a position to do so for about a decade. In addition, there is the issue of superior Western technology: The Iranians would much prefer to have Exxon or Shell repairing their oil infrastructure, rather than Lukoil or Sinopec.
Nor have rising oil prices alleviated the situation. Due to the extent of corruption, little of Iran’s windfall oil profits are reaching the Iranian middle and lower classes. Too much is being diverted to the ruling theocracy–and from them being diverted back out of the country in many cases. As a result, recent visitors to Tehran report that not only is the economy continuing to deteriorate despite Iran’s increased revenue, but tempers are beginning to fray. The Iranian people know that their government is making huge amounts of money from high oil prices and are even angrier that they are not reaping any of the rewards. Indeed, the situation is somewhat analogous to that before the 1978 revolution, when the massive increase in Iranian oil revenues from the 1973 price hikes caused a corresponding increase in state revenues but corruption prevented much from trickling down to the people. Without overstating the gravity of the current situation, it is worth noting that leading authorities on the Iranian Revolution all believe that this was an important element in sparking the revolution against the Shah.
Iran’s need for foreign (particularly Western) capital ties its long- and even medium-term economic health to the nuclear stand-off. If the Western nations decide to impose serious economic sanctions on Iran to punish it for its recalcitrance or try to coerce Tehran into abandoning its pursuit of the nuclear fuel cycle, this could have a very deleterious effect on Iran’s economy. This would be especially true if these sanctions were to preclude Western investment in Iran, which could have a dramatic effect on Iran’s economic fortunes.
What’s more, for the past 15 years, the greatest (but not the only) source of popular animosity toward the regime has been the poor state of Iran’s economy. Indeed, the Iranian people elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad president not to pursue nuclear weapons, but to reform the economy and fight corruption–neither of which he has even made a realistic start on. In November 2005, President Ahmadinejad announced that the government would begin to distribute shares of Iranian publicly-held industries to the entire populace. Rumors quickly spread that this was a preliminary step to the seizure and redistribution of many private industries and other assets, and the result was a vast, sudden flight of capital out of Iran, possibly on the order of $200 billion. This, coupled with Ahmadinejad’s outrageous call to wipe Israel off the map and Tehran’s foolish and ill-considered "World without Zionism" conference caused the Tehran stock market to collapse. Not surprisingly, recent visitors to Tehran report that growing public unhappiness often extends to Mr. Ahmadinejad because people feel that he has betrayed them by doing nothing on the economy or to curb corruption. Despite the common wisdom in the Western media that Iranians have universally rallied around Ahmadinejad on the nuclear issue, visitors to Tehran report a much more complicated picture: Many Iranians believe that the nuclear issue should not be their first priority and fear that it will increase their international isolation, which they know will have a negative impact on their economy.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NUCLEAR STAND-OFF IN THE POLITICAL SPHERE