We Were Not Supposed to Fight with the World
Interview with Gholam Hosein Karbaschi, former mayor of Tehran and Mehdi Karrubi’s candidate for vice presidency.
Three candidates against Ahmadinejad. And they are all spotlighting his economic policies. Is that what makes the tenth presidential election different?
Yes. During the last four years, we have had one of the poorest records on economy. Inflation, high prices, unemployment and recession have all brought hard times for people. But things could be the opposite. We had the highest oil revenue in these years, but unfortunately we were not successful in attracting investment and solving the problem of unemployment. Both politician and citizens are worried about the continuance of this situation. Why can’t we handle the issues in a fair way with all the potentials our country has?
So is the government’s assumed misconduct that has impelled three candidates to criticize its policies?
Let me put it in this way: the government’s mismanagement has become so flagrant, and the situation is so critical, that even principlist groups are not willing to support it. A principlist [Mohsen Rezaee] has stepped in for the elections. They believe that if the status quo continues, no more votes will go for the principlists.
How is the general election atmosphere?
Another peculiar point with this election: a government is likely to step aside after one term. Previous administrations had the chance to rule the country for two terms, so when it came to the end of their term, they were never accused of taking objectionable measures to hold the power. But the present government is seemingly following this line, and there is evidence for that.
For example in Tehran and some other cities there is discrimination in who can use facilities. And according to reports by Mr. Karrubi’s election headquarters in Tehran, they are done in a manifest, organized fashion by gubernatorial offices. If true, this is an unprecedented act. Never have governmental organizations tried to disturb the election atmosphere. Argument between different groups and parties during the elections is a natural phenomenon, but when it becomes organized and backed by the government, it’s something new.
Mr. Karrubi claims that his plans were set out before other candidates. What are these plans in foreign diplomacy?
We have a detailed plan for our foreign diplomacy. Our relations with Middle East and Arab countries, the entire set of our neighbors, European and African countries, South America and the United States, and also international organizations have been planned for.
Currently, government’s foreign policies are only fueling Iranophobia and our unweighed measures have introduced us a country ready to fight with West or even the entire world. These will lead to isolation. When we carried out the revolution we were not supposed to fight with the world. No we have eighteen neighboring countries with which we are somehow in trouble and during the past four years the government has not managed to establish sustained ties with any of these countries. We will try to follow a foreign diplomacy which brings peace to the region and paves the way towards development.
How are Karrubi’s foreign diplomacy plans different from Mr. Musavi’s plans?
All countries stay firm on certain principles in their foreign relations, but we should also prove that we are ready to solve our problems with the international community. I think Mr. Karrubi’s plans for foreign diplomacy are more focused on this part. Speaking particularly on our relations with the United States, asking United States to take a certain measure as the first step to reconciliation has not been and won’t be useful. We should show our good will and engage in a serious dialogue to reach our diplomatic objectives.