Every voter who turned up at the polling stations
to cast a ballot found that his/her views were represented by at least
one candidate. People could vote for a reformist, a moderate
reformist, a moderate centrist, or a conservative in a true
manifestation of democracy in which all citizens, with their various
political, economic, and social attitudes, have a voice. However, all
will have to accept the decision of the majority.
An interesting development in this election was the
fact that all candidates advocated some kind of reform, whether it was
the reformism of the Second of Khordad Front, whose votes swept
President Mohammad Khatami to power in landslide victories in 1997 and
2001, a moderate variation of this type of reformism, or the new
phenomenon of reformist conservatism. Clearly, the process of reform
cannot be stopped. The 2005 presidential campaign showed that the
nation is on the right path to democracy and that with each election
it is moving toward democratic maturity.
There were many points of contention in this
election, but the people's concern about the state of the national
economy and the average citizen's standard of living was a key issue.
Due to large population growth in the early years
of the revolution, the country is dogged by high inflation and high
unemployment, and voters are desperate for a president who can put the
economy in order.
Iranians also had to deal with foreign interference
in this year's presidential election.
Several months before the poll, groups opposed to
the Islamic Revolution, mainly based outside the country, and the U.S.
administration began urging Iranians to boycott the election. However,
Iranian voters foiled their plot.
On the eve of the election, the U.S. president and
his secretary of state made undiplomatic and interfering statements
against the Iranian nation. In a statement released by the White
House, George W. Bush said: "Iran is ruled by men who suppress
liberty at home and spread terror across the world. Power is in the
hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral
process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy." Bush
also said the U.S. would stand with the people of Iran when they stood
up for his version of "freedom".
Condoleezza Rice said the Iranian political system
is moving backwards.
But what really happened on the ground? Through
their high turnout in the poll, the people made it clear that Bush and
Rice and the rigid-minded opposition do not really understand the
Iranian nation. The citizens of the Islamic Republic showed the world
that, contrary to Rice's remarks, they are looking to the future and
The people have once again proven that they believe
in their truly home-grown democracy and are not influenced by
foreigners and those who ruled them harshly before the victory of the
Islamic Revolution in 1979
Millions of people went to polling stations
throughout Iran on Friday to cast their ballots in the presidential
election. Polling was set to end at 7 p.m. but was extended by two
hours due to high voter turnout.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah
Seyyed Ali Khamenei said that voting for any of the candidates in the
9th presidential election is a vote for the Islamic system. After
casting his ballot at the Imam Khomeini Mosque in northern Tehran, the
Leader told reporters, "When we come to the polling stations to
cast our ballots according to the Constitution, it means that we are
voting for the Islamic system."
The Supreme Leader expressed hope that the next
president would be able to solve the country's problems and meet its
In reference to the treacherous moves of some
Western states aiming to prevent Iranians from participating in the
poll, Ayatollah Khamenei said that such measures have nothing to do
with the general concept of Western democracy.
"Some of our enemies do not like to see an
Islamic system which can both maintain its religious nature and rely
on the votes of its people at the same time," the Supreme Leader
"They are more interested in seeing Islam as a
religion incapable of establishing a real democracy," argued
Since the existence of a religious democratic
system is against their interests, the enemies of Islam and Iran can
not tolerate such a phenomenon in the country, he observed.
A propaganda campaign has been launched by the
enemies which has nothing to do with the world of democracy, the
Supreme Leader said, adding that any democracy-seeking people would be
happy to witness a democratic system in any corner of the world.
President Mohammad Khatami said after casting his
vote, "Dissidents' negative propagation has had no effect on
people's wide participation in the election.
"The level of public participation in the
election is satisfactory, despite the high volume of negative
propaganda preceding this election. "I hope the dynamic presence
of all eligible men and women in this election will help pave the way
in the difficult path toward the institutionalization of democracy in
this country. That is the fruit of the Islamic Revolution. "All
the same, the outcome of the election, which is the Iranian nation's
choice, should and will be respected by everyone." He also
expressed hope that the last election of his term of office would be a
healthy and satisfactory one and that the result would secure the
"essential interests of the great Iranian nation."
He also expressed his appreciation for the media's
efforts to inform the public and to convey officials' messages to the
people and the people's demands to the authorities.
Iranian nation will once again showcase and prove
their genuine commitment to Islam, the late Imam Khomeini, and the
Islamic Revolution," Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel said.
Public participation in the June 17 election also
symbolized direct management of the country by the ordinary people, he
He stated that taking part in the election is
indeed taking part in managing the country in a direct and independent
fashion. "In fact, people display their love and affection for
their country when they go to polling stations." After casting
his ballot in the capital, Haddad Adel said that it was too early to
give an accurate estimate of voter turnout, but added that the Iranian
nation had time and time again surprised officials and the
international community in previous elections and observed, "It
is safe to state that, this time around, they will also perform their
duty by participating in the nationwide event en masse and voting for
their preferred candidates."
Liquefied natural gas prices may rise as new
projects begin production only after 2007 and demand for gas from
China and India, Europe and the US increases, Tokyo Gas Co said.
Asian buyers including Tokyo Gas and Tokyo Electric
Corp may pay higher prices as producers such as ExxonMobil Corp and BP
Plc divert some cargoes from Middle East and Asian projects to the US,
Tadaaki Maeda, Tokyo Gas's chief executive of energy resources, said
in Kuala Lumpur.
A delay in a BP-led project in eastern Indonesia
and falling production from PT Badak NGL, Indonesia's biggest plant,
has reduced supply, he said.
"Supply will be tight until the start of new
green field projects,'' Maeda said at the Asia Oil and Gas Conference.
"Prices are at $6 to $7 now and may take a while to go down to
the previous level of $3 a million British thermal unit.''
The price of LNG from Indonesia was at $7 per
million British thermal unit for April, up from $5.4 a year ago,
according to LNG Japan Corp, a venture between Nissho Iwai Corp and
Indonesia is the world's biggest LNG exporter.
Japan is the world's largest LNG importer, accounting for about half
of the 123mn tons traded in 2003.
Tokyo Gas, Japan's biggest gas distributor, may
boost its LNG imports to 10.3mn metric tons in 2008, from 9.13mn tons
in 2005 and 8.9mn tons in 2004, Maeda said.
Meanwhile, an official of Petroliam Nasional Bhd,
Malaysia's state-owned oil and Gas Company, said the company plans to
expand the capacity for one of its liquefied natural gas plants by
The capacity of the Malaysia LNG Dua plant will
increase 1.2mn metric tons a year by 2007, Mohd Suhaimi Yasin, general
manager for commercial division at Malaysia LNG Sdn, a unit of
Petroleum National, said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. "We are not
building a new train but we're expanding our existing two
trains," Suhaimi told reporters at the Asia Oil and Gas
Iran's Minister of Oil Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has
said that the country is presently exporting 60 percent of its oil
products to the East Asian countries. He further said, "With
regard to the increasing consumption of the crude oil by the East
Asian countries, particularly China, as well as increase of demand for
the WTI light oil by the European countries, Iran has changed policies
on oil export."
Currently, 60 percent of the country's oil is
exported to the eastern Asia, and the rest is exported to the
Mediterranean, northern Europe, and southern Africa, the minister
Commenting on the recent decision made by OPEC to
increase the production, Zanganeh stated that the decision does not
have any significant impact on the organization's production, since
OPEC members are using their full capacities for production. Another
report also quoted Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, Deputy International
Affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), as saying,
"The European states have moved toward importing the crude oil
without sulfur - the light oil - therefore, demands of these countries
for the crude oil produced by the Persian Gulf states has
According to him, the European countries are
predicted to hold low shares of the heavy and sour crude oils in their
energy stock by 2020.
"Thus, with regard to the current conditions,
the oil suppliers such as Iran have to change the policies of their
markets unless the European states embark on setting up refineries for
refining the heavy crude oil", he added.
'PAK WEAVERS IMITATING IRANIAN CARPETS'
An expert on carpet affairs said that Pakistan has
taken full advantage of poor state support for the industry in Iran to
imitate the designs of Persian carpets and export them to
Roqayyieh Almasi, a member of Scientific
Association of Persian Carpet, said that Pakistani weavers make use of
Iranian designs in their carpets. "They weave Persian carpets and
then export them under (world-famous) Iranian brands of Haris, Afshar,
Kashan, Kerman, etc. to other countries," she said, adding that
poor support by the Iranian government has discouraged high-quality
carpet production in Iran.
As Persian carpet production continues to decline,
labor costs have gone up drastically, posing a serious threat to the
future of the once thriving industry.
India, Pakistan, China, Nepal and Turkey are Iran's
major rivals in the carpet industry. Experts warn that the failure to
combat the smuggling of Persian rugs from Iran would place Afghanistan
as the country's top rival.
The main challenge facing the industry is that
Persian carpet weavers are still incapable of working in an organized
Some 90% of Iran's carpets are produced in rural
areas and the weavers know very little about the taste of
More than 70% of revenues from domestic sales of
Persian carpets go to the weavers, while rival countries have access
to far more inexpensive workforce. Persian carpets are currently
exported to 100 countries.
ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK
The Islamic Development Bank, a lender formed by 55
Muslim nations, will set up a new Islamic trade financing institution
to help boost trade among member-countries, its regional
representative in Malaysia said.
The International Islamic Trade Financing Corp, to
be based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will have $1bn of initial capital,
said Ahmed S Hariri, director of the bank's regional office in Kuala
Lumpur. It will have a regional office in Dubai.
"The volume of trade between the
member-countries is rather modest," said Hariri. "In order
to increase this volume of intra trade, you need a specialized
organization that will focus on trade."
Lenders including Jeddah-based Islamic Development
and countries with large Muslim populations such as Malaysia are
seeking to introduce more financial services that comply with Islamic
law to serve the world's 1bn Muslims.
Islamic religious law, or Shariah, prohibits
payment and receipt of interest and bans investment in businesses such
as tobacco, alcohol and gaming.
"The trend of Islamic finance is becoming
firmly anchored, and basically goes with the privatization drive in
the Middle East and the building of the local capital market,"
Michael Preiss, a senior investment adviser at Coutts Bank (Schweiz)
in Singapore, said.
Preiss, a director at the Asian Bond Market Forum,
spoke on the development of Islamic bonds and Asian markets at the
International Islamic Finance Forum meeting in March in Dubai.
Islamic Development, made up of all but two members
of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, will ask its board of
governors to approve the plan at the bank's 30th annual meeting in
Putrajaya, Malaysia, next week, Hariri said.
Trade between Organization of Islamic Conference
countries amounted to 11.5% of the group's total trade, according to
figures provided by the Islamic Development Bank. Having a specialized
entity to provide trade financing may help boost the figure to 15% in
10 years, Hariri said.
Trade financing has been handled by a department
within Islamic Development for the last two decades, Hariri said.
Between January 1996 and February last year, the bank provided $20.8bn
in trade financing.
Malaysia is the current chair of the 57-member
Organization of Islamic Conference, which includes Qatar, Saudi
Arabia, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, the UAE, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan
The two-day meeting of the board of governors of
Islamic Development will begin on June 23. An OIC Trade Forum and an
investors' conference will also be held next week in Malaysia.
The bank's governors, who are finance ministers and
central bankers, will discuss "issues that are facing
member-countries such as globalization" and poverty. "We do
realize the challenges of" the World Trade Organization market
opening agreements, "so we try to help our member-states in
meeting such challenges," Harare observed.
"Member-states have to develop their technical
expertise, their competitiveness, the quality of their products to
match the developed countries' products and services."
Islamic Development Bank will also admit a new
member and discuss the election of the president. The five-year term
of President Ahmed Mohamed Ali expires this year. The lender this
month started marketing bonds that comply with the Qur'an's ban on
interest payments as part of a $1bn fund-raising plan.
Islamic bonds are backed by assets sold to a
company created by the borrower to issue the securities. The borrower
then rents back the assets.
The rental goes back to investors in place of
interest. On maturity, the bond seller buys back the assets at an
agreed price and investors are repaid the principal.
Siemens wins $602mn Qatar and Middle East power
Siemens has won power-plant orders from the Middle
East and North Africa worth a total of around 500mn euros ($602mn).
The orders include Siemens' first turnkey order
from strategically important Qatar - where Siemens may be in the
running to help build a multibillion-dollar high-speed rail link - as
well as contracts to build plants in Dubai and Egypt.
In Qatar, Siemens will partner with South Korea's
Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co to build a 1,000mw
combined-cycle plant scheduled to begin commercial operation in May
2008, the German company said in a statement. Siemens' Power
Generation unit will supply three gas turbines, two steam turbines and
associated electrical equipment for the Ras Laffan B plant.
In Dubai, it will supply three gas turbines for a
400mw plant due to begin operating in early 2007.
And in Egypt, Siemens will supply two gas turbines
and auxiliary systems for the El Kureimat power plant near Cairo.
The German company's clients are the Egyptian
Electricity Holding Company and the Upper Egypt Electricity Production
"Ras Laffan is the first turnkey order for
Siemens PG from the fast-developing area of Qatar," Siemens Power
Generation President Klaus Voges said in the statement.
"Together with the successes in Dubai and
Egypt, we have succeeded in further consolidating our leading market
position in the Middle East and Egypt."
German politicians who visited the region in March
said Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were interested in the German
Transrapid high-tech rail system, which is built by a consortium of
Siemens, ThyssenKrupp and the German government.
Europe may stage the world's biggest air show, but
the Middle East and India are stealing the limelight this week with
multi-billion-dollar cheques for new planes.
Fast-growing economies, an influx of tourism and
more open markets are fuelling unprecedented growth in demand for air
travel in the regions, a bright spot for plane-makers fighting back
from a post-2001 industry downturn.
While some aerospace executives privately wonder if
the growth rates can be sustained, demand for air travel in some of
the world's fastest-growing economies shows no sign of slowing.
Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard according to
reports has said that China and India could be the drivers of growth
in the future.
In Europe the trend is good, it is excellent in the
Middle East, and it's even better in Asia. Indian carriers and an
airline from a small Gulf state stole the thunder from their larger
European and US counterparts who stayed quiet at the biennial air
show, traditionally a venue to announce big plane orders.
Doha-based Qatar Airways topped the list with a
whopping $15.2bn order for Airbus and Boeing aircraft as it
capitalizes on a surge in development and tourism in the oil-rich
(Courtesy Tehran Times and PAGE sources)