Transcript: Iran: Budget Leaks, Unemployment and Unrest | Jan 05, 2018

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads Iran: budget leaks, unemployment and unrest. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says WHEN IT COMES TO
PROTESTS, IT OFTEN ONLY TAKES A
SMALL SPARK TO IGNITE A MASSIVE
MOVEMENT.
IN THE RECENT CASE OF IRAN, THAT
SPARK MAY HAVE BEEN A LEAKED
BUDGET DOCUMENT.
WHAT STARTED IN LATE DECEMBER AS
A SMALL GROUP ANGRY OVER THE
GOVERNMENT'S HANDLING OF THE
ECONOMY QUICKLY GREW INTO A WAVE
OF PROTESTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
AT LEAST 21 PEOPLE ARE DEAD AND
HUNDREDS MORE ARE IN JAIL.
TO DISCUSS WHAT THIS MEANS FOR
THE FUTURE OF IRAN, LET'S ASK:
BESSMA MOMANI, SHE'S A PROFESSOR
OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO AND THE
BALSILLIE SCHOOL OF
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS; ALSO, A
SENIOR FELLOW AT CIGI, THE
CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL
GOVERNANCE INNOVATION.

Bessma is in her forties, with long straight auburn hair. She's wearing a black blazer.

Steve continues AND SAEED RAHNEMA, FOUNDING
DIRECTOR OF YORK UNIVERSITY'S
SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY AND
ADMINISTRATION.

Saeed is in his late fifties, with short white hair and a trimmed goatee. He's wearing round glasses, a black suit and a gray polo shirt.

Steve continues WE'RE DELIGHTED TO WELCOME YOU
TWO BACK AGAIN FOR BAD NEWS.
NOT FOR GOOD NEWS, FOR BAD NEWS.
SAEED, HOW FIRST.
THE RECENT PROTESTS IN IRAN.
TELL US ABOUT THE CONNECTION
BETWEEN THOSE AND THIS BUDGET
LEAK THAT CAME OUT SOME TIME AGO.

The caption changes to "Saeed Rahnema. York University."
Then, it changes again to "A reason to protest."

Saeed says ACTUALLY, I
DO NOT MAKE A BIG FUSS ABOUT
THIS BUDGET.
THE ITEMS IN THE BUDGET WERE IN
A SENSE OUT.
WHAT TRIGGERED IT ACTUALLY,
IRONICALLY, WAS A DEMONSTRATION
IN MASHAD, ORGANIZED BY A FRIDAY
PRAYER OF THE HOLY CITY OF
MASHHAD, WHOSE SON-IN-LAW WHO IS
THE HEAD OF THE LARGEST
RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION LOST TO
ROHANI.
BUT IT GOT OUT OF HAND.
IMMEDIATELY OTHERS CAME OUT.
YOU RIGHTLY SAID THAT IT WAS A
SPARK.
A SPARK NEEDED AN EXPLOSIVE
SITUATION WHICH WAS BREWING FOR
A VERY LONG TIME.

A map of the Middle East pops up highlighting the location of Iran and the northeastern city of Mashhad.

Saeed continues IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO, THERE
HAVE BEEN LOTS OF WORK
STOPPAGES, YOU KNOW, STRIKES,
WORKERS THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT
RESPONDING TO THE CLAIMS... THE
CONCERNS OF THE WORKERS WHO SAID
WE HAVE NOT BEEN PAID FOR
MONTHS, YOU KNOW?
THEY TOOK THEIR LEADERS.
THEY LASHED THEM.
THEY PUT THEM IN JAIL.
ALSO WE HAVE GOT UNEMPLOYED
YOUTH.
THEN YOU HAVE GOT THIS LOWER
MIDDLE CLASS, LEFT WITH THEIR
MEAGRE SAVINGS.
IN ALL OF THESE FAKE RELIGIOUS
TRUSTS THAT THEY HAD ALLOWED TO
PUMP UP, YOU KNOW, AS A RESULT
OF DEREGULATION, COLLECTING ALL
OF THESE MONIES AND THEN
DECLARING BANKRUPTCY.
SO YOU'VE GOT A WIDE VARIETY OF
THINGS, YOU KNOW?

Steve says ALL RIGHT.
ALL THAT HAVING BEEN SAID,
BESSMA, I WANT YOU TO FOLLOW UP
ON THIS, BECAUSE THE
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM CERTAINLY IS
THAT WHEN THIS BUDGET LEAK CAME
FORWARD INDICATING HOW THE
THEOCRACY AND MANY OF ITS
MEMBERS WERE, YOU KNOW,
EXPLOITING THEIR POSITION AT THE
EXPENSE OF THE PEOPLE THAT SAEED
HAS JUST BEEN REFERRING TO, THE
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS THAT'S
THE SPARK THAT GOT IT GOING.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT?

The caption changes to "Bessma Momani. Centre for International Governance Innovation."

Bessma says I THINK AS
SAEED POINTED OUT, YES, THE
PROTESTS IN MASHHAD I THINK WERE
LED BY HIM.
THEY WERE BASICALLY AN ATTEMPT
TO EMBARRASS THE ROHANI
GOVERNMENT AND FRANKLY PUT THE
BLAME ON ROHANI AND THE
GOVERNMENT'S INABILITY TO GET
THE ECONOMY GROWING.
BUT I THINK WHAT HAPPENED HERE
IS ROHANI SAID, YOU KNOW, WAIT A
MINUTE.
I THINK I'M GOING TO GET YOU
FOLKS, THE CLERICS, AND EXPOSE
YOU, BECAUSE I THINK THE LEAKS
DID COME FROM THE ROHANI BRANCH
OF THINGS.
MAYBE NOT DIRECTLY FROM HIS
OFFICE BUT SOME OF HIS
SUPPORTERS.

Steve says HE WAS TRYING TO
EMBARRASS THE LAKERS?

Bessma says ABSOLUTELY.
THE CLERICS WENT AFTER HIM.
REMEMBER, THE SUCCESSION ISSUE
IS HERE.
ONE OF THEM IS AYATOLLAH
CHAMENI.
THERE IS SOMETHING BIGGER.
EACH CAMP IS TRYING TO EMBARRASS
THE OTHER AND I THINK IN MASHHAD
THE ATTEMPT WAS TO PUT THE FOCUS
ON THE GOVERNMENT BECAUSE
THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE IN CHARGE
OF THE BUDGET AND ALL THE
SPENDING AND ALSO, REMEMBER,
SIGN THE INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR
DEAL THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO
DELIVER ALL THOSE ECONOMIC
BENEFITS.

Steve says WITH THE OBAMA
ADMINISTRATION?

Bessma says ABSOLUTELY.
ROHANI SAID, WAIT A MINUTE, I'M
GOING TO EXPOSE YOU FOR THE
BILLIONS OF DOLLARS YOU SPEND ON
THESE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENTS,
THESE SCHOOLS, THESE SERMONS,
AND THE REVOLUTIONARY GUARD
THAT'S HAVING ALL OF THIS, YOU
KNOW, REACH IN COUNTRIES LIKE
SYRIA AND LEBANON AND YEMEN AND
BASICALLY PUT A PRICE TAG TO IT,
AND THAT IS WHAT I THINK EVEN
MADE THE POPULATION MORE FRUSTRATED.

Steve says SAEED, GIVE US A
SENSE OF WHO IS IN THE STREETS
PROTESTING.

Saeed says I MEAN,
REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT WHAT
TRIGGERED IT, THIS IS A GENUINE
DEMONSTRATION, A SPONTANEOUS
DEMONSTRATION OF THE PEOPLE.
DESPITE THE FACT THAT EITHER
SIDE BLAMES THE OTHER SIDE AND
ALSO AGENTS OF ZIONISM AND
OTHERS, THIS IS AN INDEPENDENT
MOVEMENT THAT STARTED...

Steve says ORGANICALLY?

Saeed says ORGANIC MOVEMENT BY THE
PEOPLE WHO WERE DEPRIVED OF... I
MEAN, ECONOMICALLY ALSO, NOT
ONLY ECONOMICALLY, ALSO
POLITICALLY, CULTURALLY...

Steve says SO IT'S CERTAINLY
YOUNG PEOPLE.
BUT BEYOND THAT?

Saeed says IT'S YOUNG PEOPLE, BUT THIS
TIME, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE EVEN
FROM THE LAST TIME THAT IRAN
ERUPTED IN 2009.
WE HAVE NOW MORE OF THE WORKING
POOR, THE DEPRIVED PEOPLE, THE
LOWER MIDDLE CLASSES, EVEN
COMPARED TO THAT.
AND DEFINITELY THIS IS THE
BIGGEST RESPONSE TO THE REGIME.
AND NOW THE MAIN PROBLEM IS
THAT, OF COURSE, THE NOTION OF
BUDGET, THE INFORMATION OF
BUDGETS WAS MORE OR LESS OUT,
YOU KNOW?
PEOPLE KNEW... EVEN IF YOU GO TO
FARSI SITES, YOU SEE LOTS OF
REFERENCES TO THIS.
WHAT HAPPENS, OF COURSE, THEY
KNEW THAT THE PARLIAMENT WILL
EVEN ADD TO THE BUDGET THAT
ROHANI HAD ARRANGED.
THE BIGGEST ITEM, OF COURSE, IS
FOR DEFENCE.
WE SHOULD NOT AT THE SAME TIME
FORGET THAT IRAN IS IN THE
MIDDLE OF LOTS OF CONFLICTING
SITUATIONS OUTSIDE...

Steve says INDEED.

Saeed says DESPITE THE FACT THAT THIS
BUDGET IS NOT... MILITARY BUDGET
IS NOT AS OUTRAGEOUS AS SAUDI
ARABIA, WHICH IS 13 percent, IT'S ONLY
ABOUT 2.5 percent, BUT STILL, THEY
WANTED TO ADD TO... PASS IT ONTO
THE ISLAMIC GUARDS WHICH HAVE
THE LARGEST BUDGET ITEM EVEN
WITHIN THE MILITARY
ESTABLISHMENT.
ITS BUDGET IS TWICE THE BUDGET
OF THE REGULAR ARMY, NAVY, AND
AIR FORCE, YOU KNOW?
SO IT'S HUGE.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME THERE ARE
MANY OTHER PROBLEMS THAT THE
REGIME IS FACING, YOU KNOW, AS A
RESULT OF YEARS AND DECADES OF
MISMANAGEMENT, CORRUPTION.
CORRUPTION IS SO WIDESPREAD AND
IT GOES BACK TO THE TIME OF
AHMADINEJAD WHO ALLOWED
WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION OF ALL
ELEMENTS OF HIERARCHY.

Steve says LET ME PUT ANOTHER
ISSUE ON THE TABLE HERE, AND
THAT IS, YOU REFERENCED IT A
SECOND AGO, THE NUCLEAR DEAL
MADE BY THE PREVIOUS AMERICAN
ADMINISTRATION UNDER BARACK
OBAMA AND IRAN.
AND WE'LL DO A LITTLE EXCERPT,
BESSMA.
I'LL GET YOU TO COMMENT ON THIS.
THIS IS SLATE.COM ON HOW THE
PROTESTS ARE RELATED TO THE IRAN
NUCLEAR DEAL.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "A bad deal?" The quote reads "While a majority of Iranians supported the 2015 nuclear deal, 70 percent said that the lifting of sanctions under the deal hadn't improved living conditions. Even a majority of those who voted for President Rouhani, who has promised to improve economic conditions by ending the country's economic isolation, agreed that the deal hadn't delivered for ordinary people and had mostly benefited those while political connections."
Quoted from Joshua Keating, Slate.com. January 2, 2018.

Steve says I GUESS WE NEED SOME
BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHY THIS
DEAL, WHICH WAS SUPPOSED TO
ALLEVIATE SANCTIONS SOMEWHAT AND
IMPROVE THE ECONOMY IN IRAN
SOMEWHAT, DOESN'T APPEAR TO HAVE
DONE THAT.
WHAT'S YOUR VIEW?

The caption changes to "Bessma Momani. University of Waterloo."

Bessma says TWO THINGS.
THE ECONOMY TECHNICALLY IS GROWING.
WHEN THEY LIFTED SANCTIONS, THE
ECONOMY grew BY 12 percent.
THE CHALLENGE IS IT'S NOT
TRICKLING DOWN TO THE PEOPLE
PARTLY BECAUSE THESE CLERICS ARE
SKIMMING OFF THE TOP.
THAT'S A BIG PROBLEM HERE.
I MEAN, IN SOME OF THESE
SOCIOECONOMICCALLY DISADVANTAGED
AREAS THAT WE'RE SEEING THESE
PROTESTS, YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IS
AS HIGH AS 40 percent.
THAT'S DOUBLE THE AVERAGE EVEN
IN TEHRAN.
WE TALK ABOUT THE CLERICS AS THE
RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT.
IT'S ALWAYS BEEN KNOWN.
I THINK WHAT'S INTERESTING ABOUT
THIS BUDGET ITEM IN TERMS OF IT
BEING EXPOSED, THESE ARE NOT
JUST BUSINESS PEOPLE, THEY'RE
NOT RELIGIOUS ZEALOTS, THEY'RE
BUSINESS PEOPLE WITH ENORMOUS
ECONOMIC CONGLOMERATES THAT RUN
THE ECONOMY AND THEY'RE
BASICALLY STIFLING GROWTH IN THE
ECONOMY.
SO THAT'S PART OF THE CHALLENGE.
THAT'S I THINK ONE PART OF IT.
THE SECOND IS THE GREAT DEAL OF
HOPE HAD BEEN THAT THERE WOULD
BE INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT TO
COME IN.
YES, WE'VE SEEN A LITTLE BIT OF
THAT COME IN FROM THE EUROPEANS,
BUT WE KNOW WITH SO MUCH
AMBIVALENCE HAPPENING WITH THE
AMERICANS ABOUT THIS, A LOT OF
COMPANIES ARE KIND OF AFRAID TO
DO BUSINESS WITH THE IRANIANS.
WE SEE BOEING, FOR EXAMPLE,
WHICH MAY LOSE 150,000 JOBS
WORLD WIDE, MANY OF THEM IN THE
UNITED STATES, IF THIS DEAL IS
CANCELLED BY THE TRUMP
ADMINISTRATION.
SO THERE ARE A LOT OF COMPANIES
THAT ARE HESITANT ABOUT
INVESTING IN IRAN FOR FEAR THAT
THE SANCTIONS WILL COME BACK OR
THAT THEY'LL HAVE A DIFFICULT
TIME, AS WE SAW SOME GERMAN
BANKS, FOR EXAMPLE, BE TAKEN TO
COURT FOR THEIR DOUBLE-DEALING
IN IRAN AND EXTERNALLY AND NOT
BEING IN CONVENTION WITH SOME OF
THE AMERICAN BILATERAL SANCTIONS
THAT STILL REMAIN.
SO THE ECONOMIC INVESTMENT IS
NOT COMING INTO IRAN.
AND ALSO, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A
CHALLENGE THAT THE IRANIAN
ECONOMY IS ALSO... THE MAIN
EXPORTER IS OIL, 85 percent OF ITS
BUDGET IS OIL, AND OIL PRICES
ARE NOT WHAT THEY USED TO BE.

Steve says RIGHT.

Bessma says THEY'RE STILL STAGNATING AT 55, MAYBE 60 WITH THIS LATEST
CHALLENGE THAT WE'VE SEEN IN
IRAN PER BARREL, AND WHEN WE
LOOK AT THE BUDGETS, FOR
EXAMPLE, THEY'RE FORECASTING OR
USING THE ESTIMATION OF 75 dollars A
BARREL.
SO WE'RE NOT GETTING THE OIL
PRICES UP NEARLY AS HIGH AS WHAT
THE IRANIAN ECONOMY NEEDS.

Saeed says WE SHOULD
TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THAT
ACTUALLY WE HAVE GOT MULTIPLE
STATES WITHIN IRAN, YOU KNOW?
YOU'VE GOT THE STATE RUN BY THE
SUPREME LEADER, YOU HAVE ONE BY
ROUHANI, WHICH IS THE REGULAR
GOVERNMENT, AND THEN YOU HAVE
ONE STATE WHICH IS BY RELIGIOUS
AND REVOLUTIONARY FOUNDATIONS.
THESE ARE CONTROLLING SO MANY
CONGLOMERATES, HOLDINGS, EACH IN
A DIFFERENT AREA.
THESE ARE THE CONFISCATED
PROPERTIES FROM THE TIME OF THE
SHAH WHICH CONTINUE TO TODAY.

Steve says ARE THESE THREE
STATES IN CONFLICT WITH ONE ANOTHER?

Saeed says WELL, THEY ARE NOT... THE
MAIN ISSUE IS THAT THE LAST ONE,
THE LAST ONE THAT I SAID, THAT
THEY CONTROL... NOBODY KNOWS
EXACTLY BECAUSE THERE ARE NO
ACCOUNTS OF THESE, BUT IT'S
ESTIMATED THAT ABOUT 40 percent OF THE
IRANIAN ECONOMY IS CONTROLLED BY
THESE CORPORATIONS, WHICH DO NOT
PAY TAXES.
PARLIAMENT AND GOVERNMENT HAVE
NO CONTROL OVER IT.
AND THIS IS ALL USED AMONG THEM.
SO THE MAIN STRUCTURAL PROBLEM
WITHIN THE REGIME, THAT EVEN IF
THEY WANT TO REFORM IT, THEY ARE
CONFRONTED WITH THESE, YOU KNOW,
WITH THESE PROBLEMS.
IN ADDITION TO THAT, OF COURSE,
SANCTIONS STILL ARE THERE, YOU
KNOW.
IT'S TRUE THAT SOME MONEY WAS
RELEASED.
BUT STILL, THERE ARE LOTS OF
PEOPLE, BECAUSE OF THE PUSH OF
THE AMERICANS, WHO HESITATE FROM
INVESTING IN IRAN.
THAT CREATES MORE PROBLEMS.
AND THEN AT THE SAME TIME WE
HAVE GOT OTHER ISSUES.
THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT ITSELF IS
ABOUT 11... 10 percent OF THE WHOLE
WORKING POPULATION.
WE HAVE GOT CLOSE TO 4 MILLION
CIVIL SERVANTS AND ABOUT CLOSE
TO 4.8 MILLION RETIREES.
SO THE BIGGEST OPERATING EXPENSE
OF THE BUDGET GOES FOR THESE.
THEN YOU HAVE GOT THE QUESTION
OF EDUCATION, YOU HAVE GOT THE
YOUNG POPULATION, YOU KNOW,
THAT'S ABOUT 30 percent OF THEM ARE
BELOW 20.
ALL OF THESE HAVE CREATED A
SERIOUS PROBLEM.
YOU DO NOT HAVE ONE SINGLE
AUTHORITY WHO CAN SAY THAT YOU
ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS.
IT'S A MESS THAT CONTINUES
BECAUSE OF ALL THESE CONFLICTS.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcasts: tvo.org/theagenda."

Steve says BECAUSE YOU'RE ON
SOCIAL MEDIA, I WANT TO ASK YOU
ABOUT THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS TWEETER.
HERE'S THE PRESIDENT.

A quote from President Trump pops up on screen and Steve Reads
BIG PROTESTS IN IRAN.
PEOPLE ARE FINALLY GETTING WISE
AS TO HOW THEIR MONEY AND WEALTH
IS BEING STOLEN AND SQUANDERED
ON TERRORISM.
LOOKS LIKE THEY WILL NOT TAKE IT
ANY LONGER.
THE USA IS WATCHING VERY CLOSELY
FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!

Another tweet by Trump pops up and Steve reads
Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food and for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!

Steve continues BESSMA, WHO INSIDE
IRAN IS ACTUALLY SEEING THESE MESSAGES?
IF ANYONE?

The caption changes to "The social media influence."

Bessma says IRANIANS ARE ONLINE.
THIS IS A WELL-CONNECTED SOCIETY.
SO THEY ARE READING THIS.
I AM ON TWITTER A LOT AND
FOLLOWING MANY OF... EVEN SOME
OF THE PERSIAN ACTIVISTS, AND
SOME ARE ACTUALLY VERY HAPPY
WITH THE COMMENTS THAT HAVE COME
OUT FROM THE PRESIDENT.
BUT THEY SEE IT AS INSINCERE,
100 percent INSINCERE.
THIS IS NOT A MAN WHO HAS BEEN
GOOD TO THE IRANIAN PEOPLE.
MANY SEE THE MUSLIM MAN HE TRIED
TO IMPOSE AS BEING DIRECTED
TOWARDS THEM.
AS POINTED OUT IRANIANS ARE VERY
EDUCATED, THEY'RE QUITE
COSMOPOLITAN, MANY OF THEM ARE
SOME OF THE MOST PRODUCTIVE AND
INTELLIGENT PEOPLE, AS EITHER
IRANIAN-AMERICANS OR IRANIANS
GOING TO STUDY IN THE UNITED
STATES...

Steve says A LOT OF THEM LIKE
AMERICA, DON'T THEY?

Bessma says ABSOLUTELY.
THEY THINK THIS IS INSINCERE.
ALSO THERE HAS BEEN BOTH
BETWEEN... YOU KNOW, BOTH THE
MILES PER HOUR TO THE SAUDIS TO
THE ISRAELIS BEATING THE DRUM OF
WAR AGAINST IRAN FOR QUITE SOME
TIME NOW.
SO THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF
AMBIVALENCE.
AND I HAVE TO SAY, PEOPLE ARE
OFTEN SAYING, FROM ACTIVISTS
INSIDE THE COUNTRY, YES, THANK
YOU.
WE ALL WANT REGIME CHANGE, BUT
WE DON'T WANT IT THROUGH A
METHOD LIKE SYRIA.
WE DON'T WANT TO GO THROUGH THE
CRISIS OF IRAQ TO GET TO THAT
POINT.
SAFE US FROM THAT.
THEY DON'T WANT AN
AMERICAN-INSPIRED OR DIRECTED
INTERVENTION.

Steve says I ASK THE QUESTION
BECAUSE FROM WHAT I SAW, THE
IRANIAN REGIME HAD ATTEMPTED TO
SHUT DOWN SOME SOCIAL MEDIA
SITES, AND I WONDER HOW
SUCCESSFUL THEY WERE AT
PREVENTING THE MESSAGE FROM
GOING OUT BY DOING THAT?

The caption changes to "Bessma Momani, @b_momani."

Bessma says YOU KNOW, THE IRANIAN PEOPLE
ARE SMARTER THAN THE REGIME.
THEY'RE USING VPNs, THEY'RE
USING WAYS OF GOING AROUND IT.
LOOK, ABSOLUTELY I'VE NOTICED
ALREADY THE NUMBER OF VIDEOS
THAT HAVE COME OUT HAVE
DECREASED IN THE PAST FEW DAYS.
THAT'S PARTLY BECAUSE THEY'VE
ISSUED STATEMENTS THAT ANYBODY
WHO IS SEEN VIDEOTAPING MAY BE
ARRESTED.
SO THERE IS A CRACKDOWN.
INTERMITTENTLY, YES, THE
INTERNET HAS BEEN ON AND OFF.
TELEGRAM, THEY USE FAR MORE THAN
TWITTER, HAS BEEN TURNED ON AND
OFF.
THEY'RE TRYING TO CALIBRATE
THIS.
ONE OF THE THING THE IRANIAN
REGIME LEARNED FROM THE EGYPTIAN
REVOLUTION IS THAT IF YOU TURN
EVERYTHING OFF, YOU KNOW WHAT
HAPPENS?
PEOPLE GO TO THE STREETS EVEN
MORE TO FIND OUT WHAT'S GOING
ON.
SO THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO
IS ACTUALLY SHUT EVERYTHING OFF.
THEY'RE CALIBRATING IT VERY
CAREFULLY, AND THE IRANIAN
PEOPLE ARE SMART ENOUGH TO GET
AROUND IT.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

Steve says WHAT DO YOU THINK
THE IMPACT OF THE PRESIDENT'S
TWEETS HAVE BEEN?

Saeed says WELL, I
THINK IRANIANS, EVEN IF THEY
READ IT, MANY OF THEM DO, I
DON'T THINK THEY CARE.
IRANIANS, I CAN SAY... THERE IS
THIS ENEMY TRIANGLE OF THE
REGIME FROM OUTSIDE.

Steve says WHO IS IN THE
TRIANGLE?

Saeed says THE TRIANGLE IS SAUDI ARABIA,
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU OF ISRAEL,
AND DONALD TRUMP.
I HAVE ALWAYS SAID THAT ANYTHING
THESE PEOPLE SAY OR DO WILL HARM
THE MOVEMENT.
THEY ARE THE LEAST RESPECTED
PEOPLE, PARTICULARLY MR. TRUMP.
THIS IS THE PROBLEM.
ANYTHING THAT THEY SAY WILL
REALLY GIVE LOTS OF MOMENTUM TO
THE MILITARY WHO WANT TO TAKE
OVER...

Steve says BUT SAEED, IF THEY
DON'T SAY ANYTHING, THEY'LL BE
CRITICIZED FOR IGNORING A
POTENTIAL REVOLUTIONARY FRONT
WITHIN THE COUNTRY?

Saeed says BUT THESE THREE, YOU KNOW,
ARE SO WELL-KNOWN THAT I DON'T
THINK ANY IRANIAN, AND IRANIANS
ARE VERY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE,
THEY WOULD THINK, AS BESSMA
RIGHTLY SAID, THEY DO NOT
CONSIDER THESE PEOPLE AS
SINCERE, SO THAT THEY CARE ABOUT
HUMAN RIGHTS OR DEMOCRACY OR
ANYTHING.
THE MAIN DANGER, THE MAIN DANGER
IS THAT WE ALLOW THE
RELIGIOUS... THE REVOLUTIONARY
GUARD, WHICH ALREADY ARE
CONTROLLING ALMOST EVERYTHING,
THEY BECOME EVEN MORE POWERFUL
AND ALREADY THEY ARE USING THIS.
YOU KNOW, THIS REGIME WENT
THROUGH A PROCESS AFTER THE
REVOLUTION.
FIRST IT WAS A CLERICAL
OLIGARCHY.
DURING THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR BECAME
A CLERICAL-MILITARY OLIGARCHY,
AND THEN A CLERICAL AND BUSINESS
OLIGARCHY, AND NOW IT IS SO
POWERFUL.
IN ADDITION, THERE ARE SO MANY
APPARATUSES OF SEPARATION,
IDEOLOGICAL, AND THEY HAVE STILL
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE
LINKED TO ALL THESE RELIGIOUS
FOUNDATIONS AND THEY'RE
SUPPORTING... THAT'S WHY THEY
KEEP ON BRINGING THEM.
THEY HAVE ALWAYS BOASTED THAT WE
HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE PEOPLE,
AND NOW WE ARGUE THAT IF YOU
REALLY GENUINELY THINK THAT YOU
HAVE THE SUPPORT OF PEOPLE, WHY
DON'T YOU AGREE TO A REFERENDUM?
YOU PUT THE REFERENDUM, YOU
KNOW, BECAUSE THEY ARE LOSING
EVEN SUPPORT FROM THEIR OWN
BASE, YOU KNOW, AND THEY KNOW
IT.
THAT'S WHY THEY ARE VERY UPSET
WITH IT.
EVEN THE NAME OF THE REFERENDUM
MAKES THEM VERY ANGRY.

Steve says LET'S COME HOME.
WHAT, IF ANYTHING, SHOULD OR CAN
CANADA DO TO INFLUENCE THE
EVENTS IN IRAN TODAY?

The caption changes to "Canada's stance."

Bessma says THAT'S A
GREAT QUESTION.
YOU ALLUDED TO IT.
IT'S A BALANCING ACT, RIGHT?
SAYING NOTHING IS NOT
APPROPRIATE.
YOU HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING TO
SUPPORT THE PROTESTERS, TO POINT
OUT THAT ABSOLUTELY THEIR HUMAN
RIGHTS RECORD INSIDE IRAN IS
ABYSMAL.
THE FOREIGN POLICY IS AWFUL.
ONE CAN GO ON ALL DAY.
CANADA SHOULD SAY SOMETHING IN
SUPPORT OF THOSE PROTESTERS,
ASKING THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT TO
BE... YOU KNOW, TO HOLD BACK, TO
SHOW RESTRAINT, TO NOT CRACK
DOWN ON PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATORS,
ALL OF THAT.
THAT'S GREAT.

Steve says I WANT TO KNOW IF
THAT HAPPENS.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, THE FOREIGN
AFFAIRS MINISTER, DID ACTUALLY
MAKE A STATEMENT IN SOLIDARITY
WITH... DO PEOPLE ON THE GROUND
CARE ABOUT THAT KIND OF THING?

Bessma says YOU KNOW WHAT?
I THINK IT REALLY DOES MATTER TO
THEM.
THAT SORT OF SUPPORT, IT FEEDS
THEM, IT NOURISHES THEM, AND IT
ALSO FRANKLY PROTECTS THEM.
WE SEE THIS FROM POLITICAL
PRISONERS, I'VE HEARD IT MANY
TIMES.
WHEN THEY HEARD THAT THEIR
PLIGHT IS ON... PEOPLE ARRESTED
BY THE REGIME, WHEN THEY KNOW
THEIR PLIGHT IS ON INTERNATIONAL
MEDIA, IT MAKES SURE THEY'RE
TREATED BETTER, IT'S IMPORTANT
TO SAY SOMETHING.
BUT TO SAY SOMEHOW THIS IS GOING
TO BE THE TIPPING POINT AND THE
REGIME IS GOING TO, YOU KNOW, OR
WE'RE GOING TO MAKE SOME REAL
CHANGE IN THE DIRECTION OF THIS,
NO.
LET'S BE HONEST WITH OURSELVES.

Saeed says YOU KNOW, I
THINK YOU'RE RIGHT.
I DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN CANADA
OR WHAT THE EUROPEAN SAYS AND
TRUMP.
I THINK THE PEOPLE ACTUALLY OF
IRAN EXPECT THAT GOVERNMENTS
SUCH AS THESE WILL SUPPORT THEM.
AND PARTICULARLY THAT NOW IRAN
IS TRYING TO REENTER CANADA, YOU
KNOW, THROUGH THIS EMBASSY, THE
CANADIAN GOVERNMENT CAN MAKE ANY
IMPROVEMENT WITH THE
RELATIONSHIP CONDITIONAL ON THE
RELEASE OF PRISONERS.
SO FAR INSIDE IRAN 7,700 PEOPLE
HAVE BEEN DETAINED IN THE LAST
WEEK.
THIS IS ALL THE POLITICAL
PRISONERS THAT THEY HAVE.
RELEASE OF PRISONERS.
RESPECTING HUMAN RIGHTS.
THIS IS ONE THING.
AND THERE IS ANOTHER THING.
CANADA HAS BECOME A SAFE HAVEN
OF MOST OF... MANY OF THESE
PEOPLE WHO HAVE STOLEN MONEY AND
PUT THEIR CAPITAL HERE.
AND THE SITUATION GETS WORSE.
YOU WILL GET MORE OF THESE
PEOPLE COMING TO CANADA.
CANADA SHOULD PREVENT THIS FROM
HAPPENING, PREVENT CANADA
BECOMING A SAFE HAVEN FOR ALL
THESE THIEVES.

Steve says LET'S LOOK FURTHER
AFIELD.
IF THE TRIANGLE OF INTERVENORS
ARE COMPLETELY USELESS HERE AND
CANADA... IT'S GOOD TO HEAR US,
BUT FRANKLY, WE'RE NOT ALL THAT
IMPORTANT.
IS THERE ANY ACTOR ON THE WORLD
STAGE TODAY THAT COULD BE
INVOLVED IN THIS AND HAVE A
POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO MAKE?

The caption changes to "On the larger stage."

Bessma says THE EUROPEAN
UNION IS THE ONE... ALL THE
ANALYSTS ARE LOOKING FOR TO
COMMENT AND TO BE THE VOICE OF
REASON.
ALSO NOT JUST BECAUSE... NOT TO
PUT THE EUROPEAN UNION ON SOME
PEDESTAL HERE, BUT MORE
IMPORTANTLY THAT'S WHERE THE
FUTURE INVESTMENT IN IRAN IS
GOING TO BE AND THAT'S WHAT THE
REGIME CARES ABOUT.
AT THE END OF THE DAY ROUHANI
AND EVEN THE CLERICS WANT TO
MAKE SURE, BECAUSE THIS IS
REGIME SURVIVAL, THAT THE
ECONOMY DOES WELL.
SO THEY NEED EUROPEAN
INVESTMENT.
IT'S NOT GOING TO COME FROM THE
AMERICANS BECAUSE FRANKLY
AMERICAN LAWS ARE SO COMPLEX
THAT THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE
ABLE TO... EVEN WITH JCPOA DEAL,
THE INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR DEAL,
ALL OF THAT IT STILL MAKES IT
VERY DIFFICULT FOR REGULATIONS
IN TERMS OF AMERICAN BUSINESS TO
INVEST.

Steve says CAN I UNDERSTAND
THIS, THOUGH?
YOU THINK THAT IF CHANCELLOR
MERKEL OR THE PRESIDENT OF
FRANCE, MACRON, WERE TO SAY
SOMETHING, AS IN STOP BEATING UP
THESE PEOPLE ON THE STREETS,
THAT WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT?

Bessma says IF THEY SAY THAT, LOOK...
BECAUSE THEY KNOW... I SHOULD
SAY THE REGIME KNOWS THAT THE
EUROPEAN UNION ARE IN SUPPORT OF
THE DEAL, THEY'RE THE ONLY ONES
KEEPING THIS TOGETHER, FRANKLY,
AT THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL.
BECAUSE WE KNOW THE AMERICANS
WANT TO SQUASH IT.
SO, YES.
I THINK IF THEY SAY, LOOK, WE
ARE GOING TO BE YOUR FUTURE
INVESTORS.
WE ARE THE ONES THAT ARE GOING
TO BE HELPING YOUR ECONOMY GROW.
THIS IS YOUR REGIME SURVIVAL.
YOU MAKE SURE THAT THE PRISON
ISN'T OVERCROWDED, YOU STICK TO
THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS, LET GO
OF PEACEFUL PROTESTERS.
ABSOLUTELY IT MAKES A
DIFFERENCE.

Steve says WE HAVE 20 SECONDS.

Saeed says WE NEED THE
SUPPORT OF THE PROGRESSIVE
PEOPLE BECAUSE WHAT IS
HAPPENING, IN IRAN WE HAVE GOT
THIS MOVEMENT.
BUT THE MOVEMENT HAS NO
LEADERSHIP, HAS NO ORGANIZATION.
NO MOVEMENT CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT
A FRONT, YOU KNOW?
AND UNFORTUNATELY THE IRANIAN
OPPOSITION IS SO DIVIDED, AND SO
FAR WE HAVE THIS DIVISION, THE
REGIME CAN SURVIVE.
THE ONLY WAY TO CONFRONT IT IS
THAT ALL IRANIAN OPPOSITION GET
TOGETHER AND THEN CONFRONT
SOMETHING.
EVEN IN CANADA, THERE HAVE BEEN
LOTS OF DEMONSTRATIONS,
GATHERING BY DIFFERENT GROUPS OF
PEOPLE.
THEY ARE NOT EVEN GETTING
TOGETHER TO DO SOMETHING AGAINST
THE REGIME.

The caption changes to "Producer: Gregg Thurlbeck, @GreggThurlbeck."

Steve says WE APPRECIATE BOTH
OF YOU COMING IN TO TVO TONIGHT
AND SHARING YOUR VIEWS ON THIS,
BESSMA FROM CIGI AND THE
UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO AND THE
BALSILLIE SCHOOL AND SAEED
RAHNEMA FROM YORK UNIVERSITY.
GOOD TO SEE YOU BOTH.
THANK YOU.

Watch: Iran: Budget Leaks, Unemployment and Unrest