Believe it: Ahmadinejad’s days in power are numbered

Now comes word from Iran that the country’s right-leaning parliament did in fact attempt to impeach Ahmadinejad on 14 counts of violating the law, including illegally trading 76.5 million barrels of oil valued at approximately $9 billion and withdrawing nearly $600 million from Iran’s foreign reserve fund without parliamentary approval. These are serious charges that would lead not only to impeachment but, possibly, to arrest and imprisonment. However, according to reports from a number of conservative newspapers in Iran, lawmakers were kept from bringing the impeachment charges to a floor vote through direct interference by none other than the supreme leader himself, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei…

The irony is that Ahmadinejad is unquestionably doing the sensible thing in pushing ahead with the removal of government subsidies. Subsidies account for approximately 30 percent of Iran’s entire annual budget. That is simply untenable for an economy that just last month saw the value of its currency drop by a staggering 13 percent against the dollar. Iran’s oil industry, its most lucrative source of revenue, is in shambles after the recent departure of four oil companies— Shell, Total, ENI, and Statoil. The carpet industry, once valued at $500 million, has disintegrated thanks to increased sanctions. The government claims that 22 percent of Iranians are unemployed (experts say the number is closer to 40 percent), three-quarters of them under the age of 30. Some 40 percent of Iranians live below the poverty line. Inflation is officially at 10 percent, though many economists believe it to be more like 24 percent. With the price of oil remaining stable and Iran’s international isolation increasing, the government simply cannot afford to keep paying out nearly a third of its entire budget in subsidies.

But while what Ahmadinejad is doing may be the right thing for the country, it is the way he is doing it—by virtual fiat—that has parliament up in arms.