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Iran's lights are going out

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    The country believed to have the world s third-largest oil reserves is in the grip of power cuts – a result of bad planning and corruption Iran s lights are
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5, 2008
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      The country believed to have the world's third-largest oil reserves
      is in the grip of power cuts – a result of bad planning and

      Iran's lights are going out
      M Cist
      Tuesday September 02 2008

      The cities of Iran are in darkness. For two hours at a time, from
      the Gulf to the Caspian, the country believed to have the world's
      third largest oil reserves doesn't have the electricity to power
      homes, traffic lights, hospitals and the rest of civic life. There
      are reports of deaths in hospitals in Tehran's swankiest
      neighbourhoods, the traffic in Isfahan, Shiraz and the capital
      grinds to a halt as traffic signals cease and in smaller towns there
      are angry demonstrations.

      The energy ministry's decision to publish "blackout timetables"
      hasn't helped things and the official statistics – a 32,000 mW grid
      can't satisfy 34,000 mW needs – don't wash. The lights are out in
      Bandar Abbas on Iran's southern coast, in Sistan-Baluchestan towards
      Afghanistan and Mazandaran towards Turkmenistan. A deputy energy
      minister, Professor Mohammad Ahmadian has been replaced but
      resignations over the issue are less to do with competence than
      President Ahmadinejad juggling positions in his favour, ahead of
      next year's presidential elections.

      Perhaps Ahmadian paid the price of raising the spectre of a five-
      fold increase in electricity prices. The free marketeers in the
      government who see a bright future in membership of the World Trade
      Organisation call for the government subsidy for domestic
      electricity to be slashed.

      The middle classes who quietly bear the irritation of two-hour
      queues to fill up their cars at petrol stations occasionally rise
      up. At much-publicised recitals of Persian music in Tehran, the
      lights went out just as renowned world music star, Homayoun
      Shajarian, got on stage. After thousands of people clapped in the
      darkness, singing the "old" pre-revolution national anthem (even
      women's voices could be heard and women are not allowed to sing in
      public), the star's more famous father, Mohammad Reza Shajarian got
      on stage and denounced the government. He said the interior ministry
      was deliberately trying to stop Iranians from listening to the music
      of their country. Visibly angry, the audience's mood was less
      anticipation of complex, jazz-like permutations of Dastgahs on Dafs,
      Tars, Tombaks, Setars, Kamanchehs, Neys, Tanburs, Santurs, and Uds
      and more on political change.

      It was the same at the concert of Iranian Kurd Shahram Nazeri,
      incongruously held at one of the Shah's old palaces and where the
      VIPs were police. The lights didn't go out but there was chaos after
      the traffic lights of Tehran, sophisticated ones that tell drivers
      how long they have to wait before they change, all dimmed.

      It was bad enough in the cold winter when power cuts plagued 11
      provinces and the National Iranian Gas Company warned Iranians to
      moderate their consumption or face further cuts.

      Ironically, the more environmentally-sound sources of energy -
      hydroelectric plants - are causing some of the worst power cuts. The
      reasons for the power cuts are endemic bad planning by a corrupt
      elite as well as members of that elite siphoning off oil for export.
      Those profits end up overseas with the trickle-down in Iran reaching
      North Tehran BMW-dealerships and bootleggers.

      Without electricity, the economy continues to self-destruct. In the
      scorching heat, offices cannot operate without air-conditioners and
      the little manufacturing done in Iran is threatened with even more
      disasters. Making deals with China necessitated the opening up of
      the Iranian market to cheap Chinese goods so at this rate the little
      of it done at home will be destroyed.

      Official inflation is near 30% and only the continued subsidy for
      food allows many to live. Iran may look richer than every other
      avowedly Muslim country on earth but it is teetering on the brink.
      The only chink of light for the millionaire Mullahs is in what
      President Vladimir Putin said, that South Ossetia so brutally bombed
      by Georgians backed by Washington and Tel Aviv, 500 miles north of
      Tehran, is a prelude to a U.S. attack on Iran to rig the U.S.
      presidential elections. Nothing will unify Iranians behind their
      government like a foreign attack, regardless of the hangings and
      worsening kleptocracy.



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