Friday, October 08, 2004

Dar Al Hayat: The Republic of Asceticism and Pitch Dark

Dar Al Hayat: "The Republic of Asceticism and Pitch Dark
Ghassan Charbel Al-Hayat 2004/10/8

"It my great honor that I now own 10 percent of what I used to own, after bearing crucial responsibilities over 25 years, with all their perks."

I stopped at this quote because it was former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who said it. He added that the value of what he owns today is not equivalent to the value of a house he owned prior to the revolution in 1979. He said that before the revolution, he owned 100 pieces of land in Qom, of which only one remains where "I want to build a house so I do not lose contact with my family."

Suffice to say that the former president wanted to stress that he got poorer after the Islamic Revolution, contrary to popular belief that he is Iran's richest man.

I do not want to imply that Rafsanjani's talk is heartbreaking, or that his situation calls for immediate action from the charitable. Moreover, we have no means to verify any of this; especially that we heard over the years that the man is brilliant in politics and in the business world. Who knows? Maybe the goal is to polish his image, while the sun sets on President Mohamad Khatami's term, whom the extremists succeeded in using to embellish the regime's image. They were also successful in curbing his agenda and orientations.

With the same asceticism, Rafsanjani spoke of the presidential elections set to be held in June. He hoped that another candidate run against him, and that he asked Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "not to force me to run for the presidency." He also sent his message, saying, "I am still waiting they find another person, however, if it is clear to me that there is no other alternative and that I must announce my candidacy for the sake of Islam and the revolution, I would not hesitate."

I liked what Rafsanjani said; especially that an observer of his maneuvers and swimming the Iranian inclinations, would find it hard to believe that the man truly is humble. However, what I liked most is the sacrificial tone and humility of his talk, which reminded me of Lebanese politicians' rhetoric. Their major concern is the public interest, for which they spend from their own pockets and sell inherited plots of land and homes. They do not like to stay in power but accept an extended stay in it and cling to it with their teeth, fearing to place the fate of the people in the wrong hands. How nice it would be if the Lebanese authorities published a list of those who got poorer after sneaking into parliament, the cabinet, or the administration with its different labyrinths.

I write this because in the last few days, Lebanon was droned in pitch darkness due to power cuts, despite the billions of dollars spent on power plants and grids. It is as if the politicians want to crown their achievements by disinheriting the Lebanese people of light, after having cut them out of dignity, freedom, and feelings of security and stability. It is the widest looting campaign the country is experiencing amidst banners of chastity and slogans of humility. If what Rafsanjani said is true, the only solution to his financial situation is to run for the Lebanese presidency, the republic of pitch black."

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