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Iran First

Iran First

In your Tuesday edition of Signal, Alex Kliment wrote about ongoing protests in Iran. A few more thoughts on this subject.


Two factors driving the protests might surprise you: The nuclear deal and government transparency.

First, the nuclear deal raised expectations in Iran that years of sanctions and hardship were over. But…

  • Most of the post-deal financial gains have gone to boost Iran’s oil production, not the well-being of ordinary citizens.
  • Oil prices are at $67 per barrel this week, down from $115 in 2014. Given the supply swell enabled by technological advances in production, we may never again see $100 oil.
  • Iran still faces some sanctions, and threats of new penalties block foreign investment.

Second, President Hassan Rouhani’s drive for greater transparency has given citizens a closer look at what’s in the government budget. They see…

  • sharp cuts in subsidies that will make food and fuel more expensive
  • a 40% cut to the government’s cash transfer program, which will see more than 30 million people lose their coverage
  • more money for an aggressive foreign policy.

Why, the protesters ask, aren’t Iran’s leaders directing cash toward those who need it most? Reform of subsidies becomes necessary in every developing country, but dashed expectations and new hardships are a combustible combination. Rouhani has moved forward with belt-tightening before most of Iran’s people have seen much benefit from his presidency.

It’s especially hard to forecast the intensity and stamina of a protest movement that lacks central leadership, but unless something dramatic and unexpected happens, this one poses little threat to Iran’s leaders. If necessary, the Supreme Leader will order a crackdown, and security forces will follow orders.

But this is another challenge for leaders who still base their legitimacy on a revolution (in 1979) that fewer and fewer Iranians are old enough to remember.

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

For the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine has been rocky, to say the least. And as a result, much of the developing world will have to wait even longer for their turn. Part of the challenge, World Bank President David Malpass says, is that "advanced economies have reserved a lot of the vaccine doses." Malpass sat down with Ian Bremmer recently to talk about what his organization is doing to try to keep millions around the world from slipping deeper into poverty during the pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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For the first time in twenty years, extreme poverty around the world is growing. How does the developing world recover from a pandemic that has brought even the richest nations to their knees? David Malpass, the President of the World Bank, is tasked with answering that question. He joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to talk about how his organization is trying to keep the developing world from slipping further into poverty in the wake of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

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Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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