Can Iran Change?


THE NEW YORKER |
LETTER FROM TEHRAN

By JON LEE ANDERSON

Ever since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad first ran for President of Iran, four years ago, he has shown a canny understanding of communications. He has a blog, called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Personal Memos, in which he expounds on God, philosophy, and his childhood, and answers e-mails from readers. The signature videos for his 2005 Presidential campaign were two thirty-minute productions that expertly portrayed him as a man of the people. In one scene, Ahmadinejad is in line for lunch at a self-service canteen; in another, he walks among the poor. The videos were aired on television repeatedly. The campaign tagline was “It’s doable—and we can do it.”

The videos were conceived and produced by Javad Shamaqdari, a burly, bearded man who is the President’s “art adviser.” continue reading…


THE NEW YORKER
| LETTER FROM TEHRAN

By LAURA SECOR

In the tumultuous story of Iran’s twenty-nine-year-old Islamic Republic, the battle over free speech has captured the world’s imagination, but the debate over free markets goes just as deep. Since the revolution, most industries in Iran have been owned either by the state or by enormous Islamic foundations. Inefficiencies are rampant. Iran’s economy is sustained almost entirely by oil; now that oil prices have fallen steeply, a crisis looms. Since the early eighties, Mohammad Tabibian and other trained economists have advised the government to dismantle trade barriers, drop price controls, and force companies to compete or perish. continue reading…

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