November 8, 2009
Iran's parliament (Majlis) Sunday, Nov. 8, granted president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unlimited control of an estimated $30-50 billion of national treasure under legislation empowering him to cancel government subsidies on food and fuel. He gained majority endorsement for these measures over the objections of the Speaker Ali Larijani, who demanded Majlis oversight of the recycled expenditure.
DEBKAfile's Iranian sources report that the president demanded the transfer of subsidy funding to the nation's nuclear and missile programs, preparations for war and measures to offset international sanctions.
Ahmadinejad's parliamentary initiative and his overwhelming victory belied suppositions in some Western circles that he was actually in favor of a nuclear accommodation with the world powers but was obstructed by hardline opposition to his purported "pragmatic" policy.
His success in ramming the new measures through parliament Sunday proved he was at the peak of his political strength and determined as never before to defy the world. The president was able to make himself dictator of national expenditure and gain control over the wherewithal he sought for pushing ahead with his plans to arm Iran with a nuclear weapon and fund the military preparations for war against the powers who would stand in his way.
With the annual subsidy of $90 billion in government subsidies now at his disposal, the president is in a position to manipulate fuel prices in order to keep Iran standing on its feet under a new round of international sanctions. The radical Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, one of his leading allies, justified the cancellation of subsidies with a sophistic argument:
"It is oppression when 30 percent of society that is rich and middle class, receives 70 percent of the subsidies. This must stop," he said.When the Islamic regime last tried to cancel subsidies, it was forced to back down by rioting in Iran's cities. Ahmadinejad proposes to offer the poorer classes the sop of a $17 handout to every low-income household.
DEBKAfile's Iranian sources say that this meager pittance will hardly compensate the impoverished majority of the population for losing the basics of subsistence at affordable prices to the grandiose plans managed by the Revolutionary Guards and Ahmadinejad - certainly not for the soaring inflation which the removal of subsidies will generate. But for now on, the people will have no recourse to parliament for help but have to rely on the mercy of President Ahmadinejad.
November 6, 2009
Israel's warnings that it will not tolerate an existential threat in the form of a nuclear Iran should be taken seriously, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon warned in an interview with the Britain-based Sky News on Friday.
"The one who's bluffing is Iran, which is trying to play with cards they don't have," Ayalon told the news network. "All the bravado that we see and the testing and the very dangerous and harsh rhetoric are hiding a lot of weaknesses."Israel has repeatedly warned the Islamic Republic -- and the rest of the world -- that it will not allow Iran to complete its nuclear development program and create an atomic weapon to be aimed at the Jewish State.
"If Iranian behavior and conduct continues as they have exhibited so far, it is obvious that their intentions are only to buy time and procrastinate," Ayalon said. He pointed out that negotiations with Western nations have not resulted in any reduction in Iranian nuclear activities.Iran has vowed to continue all of its nuclear development programs regardless of what proposals for alternatives are offered by Western nations in diplomatic talks. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared last Sunday that Iran is negotiating with the West from a position of power, and compared the power of Iran's enemies to that of "a mosquito."
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi politely warned the Islamic Republic in September that the Jewish State is prepared to defend itself against any nuclear or other attack it might be inclined to launch.
"We all understand that the best way of coping [with the Iranian nuclear threat] is through international sanctions]" Ashkenazi told an interviewer on IDF Army Radio. However, he added, "Israel has the right to defend itself, and all options are open."