When I remember, I will call it Gulf Al Arab. We have Iranians here of course. For them it will be the Persian Gulf and geographically it ought to be the Persian Gulf. I will stretch the point.
          I did not realise when I cam here tonight that I was facing such an array of scholars from SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University.  I am very pleased to see them here. They just made me feel very humble and I hope that anything I offer tonight will be accepted in the spirit in which it is offered.
          I am not an expert on Iran. Those of you who have been to SOAS will know that the late Michael Birell used to describe experts as ex (people who are past it) and sprits (a drip under pressure). So I will avoid the use of the term expert and stick to student, which I regard myself as.
          I am going to give a talk tonight about a very narrow segment of Iran, the bit I have seen recently. It will be a very personal view, inevitably. And if you feel on occasions that I am wrong, inadequate, or ill informed that is fine by me because then you can tell me your opinions. So we will regard it as an open session from which we can all learn.
          I would like to emphasise that  I began in Iran fairly early in 1963. I had the chance to see therefore monarchy, the revolutionaries and the Islamic Republic. Like all people of my age I cannot ever get rid of the comparisons from my mind. So if I give comparative views, some of which will be favourable to the present regime, some of which will not, it is just because it is my history and in the end I suppose its myself I am telling you about.
          When Dr Shehabi asked me to give a talk he said I do not want a general talk about Iran but I want you to talk about what you think are the key  elements of change that you see in contemporary Iran. Let me forewarn you about what I am going to talk about and about what I think is important.
          Firstly I think the economic prospects for Iran are much improved on just six months ago [January 1999] and I will explain why. I think this is tremendously important because as you look from the West at the regime in Iran you think yes they have just been shaken to the roots by student problems, they are really worried, they have got problems.
          I don’t believe that. I think the underlying trends have certainly turned  good for Iran and principle among these is the improvement in the economy. I am prepared to argue that casewith you afterwards if you care to do so.
          Secondly I think also the prospects for the oil sector in Iran are looking up immensely. It is the first time I have been able to say this for a long time. I think the prospects, if not wonderful, are at least looking  good for them.
          International capital, expertise and management is now filtering back to the oil sector. This is Iranian management. So I am very optimistic that at long last Iran can turnaround its hydrocarbon sector and at last capitalise on its enormous comparative advantage in hydrocarbons.
          My third point is a political one and I should almost apologise for it but I shan’t. I think the regime will remain in tact, come students, go students, come hardline, go hardline, come reform, go reform. I think the regime will remain for the present time in place and in good balance.
          I think also that the balance between the hardliners and the conservatives, the liberals and the reformers, however you see them, will remain very much in equilibrium, in equal balance.
           Now many of the faces I am looking at this evening have no doubt been living in London for many years and have children in English schools. There is an institution in English schools called sports day in which they have the usual things like long jump and high jump. But there is one particular race which I always find fascinating. It is known as the three legged race. You get two people and you tie their legs together. Now to get anywhere they have to run in careful co-ordination because if they don’t  they will fall over and they will lose the race.
          The Iranian political system between hardliners and reformers is a case of having to go together or they don’t go at all. You have to understand the complexities of the balance, of the interrelationships and the negotiations that go on within the regime to keep the front, the consensus as it were. The Iranians have their own enigma.
          The difficulty is of course the Iranians are never content to have a simple thing like a three legged race. They have converted theirs into an 11 legged race which makes life even more difficult. So I think the balance will continue to be kept.
          There will inevitably be outbreaks of violence like the student riots last month [July 1999]. The riots did not arise overnight. My private view is that it was fairly well planned. And I don’t think it was planned by the liberal students. The planning possibly came from the other side.
          But I would like to enter a caveat here. My fourth point is that opposition to the regime will grow. I think it will grow against the hardliners as increasing transparency in the Iranian system makes it quite clear what the hardliners stand for.
          I also think that if Mr Khatemi cannot bring real change, real prospects for Iran, real liberalisation in social affairs, the young people will not tolerate it and they will want change. Those of you who had your ears very close to the microphone during the student disturbances will know what they were saying. And one of the slogans was that either they will changeinternally or there will be a second revolution. You don’t have to believe it but it is interesting that it is actually said. That is a point of view that is being stated in Tehran. I think its near the truth, not for this or next year but in ten years time.
          I was in Yaz in June, a beautiful town, a beautiful city. A young Iranian youth put his hand on my shoulder and said I want to talk to you. And I said what  do you want to talk about. He said you are most welcome to come to our city and what we want to talk to you about is politics. I said I  could wind up in prison. I would be just another Westerner interfering in Iranian affairs. They said no, no.
          What was interesting about the words of these young people is that they regard Khatemi as an icon or change, temperance, liberality and a new agenda. What worries me is that if in Iran you really do have a three-legged race politically speaking how does Khatemi deliver. And if he doesn’t I have no doubt that the students’ slogan of 1999 will become the political slogan on the streets in more general terms in five years time.
          The key issue in Iran is what do you do about the United States. The regime really has a great hang up about it for good historic reasons. But it really does drag Iran down tremendously internationally if it can’t go on parity terms to the United Nations, the  World Bank, to this NGO and that NGO. Iran is constantly surrounded by a pariah curtain in everything it does.
          It is very difficult to say to people in Iran you must change and you must in the end meet the Americans half way. In 1983 I was in Iran for the first time since the revolution. I got to know quite a number of people who became quite important in the hierarchy later.
          There were a whole series of seminars in Tehran on developments in the Persian Gulf from 1989 onwards. In 1992 I gave a speech in Tehran at the International Institute for Political and International Studies. I actually said to the Iranians if you want to be any sort of power in the Persian Gulf, if you really want to inherit your status as the shah of the Persian Gulf what do you do? You have to talk to the Americans and the Arabs, first and foremost.
          Secondly you  have to talk to the Europeans because, like the Japanese, you have a long term consumer interest in the Gulf which is perfectly natural and sustainable. But most of all you have got to talk to the Americans.
          In 1999 you could say that and get away with it. You couldn’t in 1992 and I was severely reprimanded by my chairman and was subjected to a tremendous amount of pressure by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to recant what I had said.
          If it is a truism I think it is one that the Iranians and the Americans have not yet come to terms with, both sides are sitting apart.
          There are two other issues which I feel are important. The first one, and maybe I am being insulting, I do not intend to be, is that the honeymoon the Iranians are currently having with the Arabs will be sustained but only till a better rival alternative is available.
          What I am saying is that if the Iranians genuinely develop a dialogue with the United States, or if the possible opportunity costs of that programme are that the Iranians become morestrident in the Gulf and have the strength to develop a unilateral view of the Gulf. I think that is the case.
          The last thing I want to say is that I think there is no illusion in the West that Iran will develop militarily and at a very rapid rate. If you look at the official figures in Iran they spend about 2.3% of GDP on weapons which is below the world average. It is very small compared with the amount during the conflict with Iraq.
          I have got the feeling that what you are seeing is the tip of the iceberg. And I have the feeling that for perfectly justifiable national and regional reasons the Iranians will continue to pursue two programmes. One is the production of their own weapons and we have seen this year that they have produced their own fighter jets. That programme will go on for rocketry weapons, artillery and things of that kind. Even ammunition.
          There is another programme that you also have to be aware of. That is the biological, chemical and nuclear weaponry. What I saw during the later part of the war with Iraq was that the Iranians were the most frustrated, angry people I have ever  met.
          All their advantages in drawing manpower, esprit de corps and morale were being wiped out on the battlefield by the use of biological, particularly chemical weaponry, by the other side. The evidence I have is that the other side did use it.
          Its undermining impact on the Iranian army and the revolutionary guard is undoubted, in my view. It transformed the war. The Iranians never want to be there again. And I think two things will happen now. They will develop antidotes to chemical and biological weapons in case there is another war. And I totally understand why they wish to  have their own weaponry. They want to say if you attack us we will attack you, no more, no less.
          It is very difficult when dealing with Iran to even think about mentioning statistics. The Iranians are the most inventive people with statistics that I have ever come across. But my general advise to you, and I am sure you know it already, is never to believe a single statistic about the Middle East, especially if it comes from Iran.
          But it gives us a problem. If I say that Iran has made  an enormous leap forward from what base am I talking. The United Nations says that in Iran every man, woman and child in Iran gets $1000 income per head per year. If I talk to some of my colleagues, my students and their families in Tehran at the Central Bank they say no we have the equivalent dollar purchasing power of four. Who do you believe?
          I have a feeling that the $4000 figure is nearer the mark. Certainly $3,000. This poses a problem. How powerful is Iran in terms of GDP. The Americans give you a figure of $65 million dollars. The Central Bank of Iran talks about $200 million. Who do you believe? It is very difficult but the higher figure is the one I would go for.
          Where I don’t believe the Iranians is with regard to population. If you look at the official figures, Iran has a population of 61 million people. The growth rate is about 1.6 or 1.7 per annum. Don’t believe it. If you tell me 65 or 66 million I would believe it including two million Afghans. Nearer 65 than 60. The growth rate is nearer 2.1 or 2.2.
          There are enormous implications for this if you are talking as a professional. Forecasts into the future which talk about welfare, personal wealth, disposable income and associated variables.
          When you start off with statistics on such a shaky basis you have difficulties in knowing if there is any change at all.
          There is also the question of foreign debt. If you talk to people in the Central Bank of Iran their official debt is 8.9 billion dollars. That is the June figure. If you talk to the Bank of England they will tell you it is about 23, 24, or 25.
          It depends on what you include, of course. Do you include current trade deficits, non paid current trade? Iran does have a big debt problem, certainly more than 8.9 billion. A problem more in the region of 20. And this will be a break on Iran in the sense that before you can import serious goods and services you have to pay off your debt. The debt is not going to go away quite as easily as people think.
          I would like to return to economic improvement as I think this is very important. The key signpost we have seen change in the past six months in the position of oil revenues. The end of year budget forecast of 14 or 15 billion dollars for 1999. We are now talking about probably 18 billion dollars. This is a serious improvement in prospects and it gave the government an enormous range of options with which to push development.
          It frees up government expenditures, it will improve prosperity, it will offer more jobs. It will enable Khatemi to really consolidate his regime politically. It will meet some of the very repressed ambitions for an improvement in economic affairs.
          That is not just for the working class. We are talking about every Iranian class here except the very privileged group in Iran.
          Most of the people I know have at least three other jobs. You are just as likely to get driven around Tehran by a deputy minister, who works as a taxi driver. (I am joking now but you get the nature of the problem). There is  really a need  for economic improvement.
          There is also another factor which will go hand in hand with a possible improvement in foreign affairs. As Iran’s economic position improves, particularly as its foreign exchange position improves, so Iran will become attractive again, whether you like it or not, to foreign investors and to foreign lenders. Iran will become a lot more attractive in that kind of way and it will draw in Japanese, European and eventually American sponsorship money to aid development, which the country desperately needs.
          There are also very positive developments internally which I saw at the end of May 1999. The private sector in Iran is growing very substantially. Small scale industry is booming. As you travel around Jaz, Kerman, Isfahan, Shiraz or the small towns in between you see an enormous growth on the periphery of  the towns of workshops and repair outfits. It is all very small scale, very private sector based and very successful.
          Now the secret of this is not just that it is affecting a lot of people but it geographically affects a lot of Iranian territory. Very few towns have been by passed in the growth of thissmall scale, tertiary manufacturing development that has gone on in recent years.
          You got the growth of the small town traders, bazaar merchants, the retail and wholesale trade. The people who support  the rightists in the government are gaining a tremendous amount of support among the population because the last thing that the newly emerging private sector people want is for American, Japanese, and European companies to come to Iran, which they are excluded from at the moment, as they see this threatening their position.
          So my view of Iran is that of an Iran I have not seen before, not for 10 or 12 years. There is a real surge of prosperity among the small scale capitalists, the shop owners, the shop keepers which is really making people a lot more prosperous than they have been for a very long time.
          Agriculture is doing well. We hear the pitter patter of rain here which reminds me to warn you that in Iran this year [1999] they have very bad rainfall. Many of the main agricultural growing regions are being very badly affected. But even taking that into account agriculture is doing extremely well. Competition from imports has been reduced, there is a favourable pricing structure for crops and products from the farmlands, farm inputs like fertiliser and seeds are available,  there is very strong investment in land and water.
          All the positive factors tell me that in the next five years things are going to happen in agriculture which affects 20 percent of the working population and is a very important consideration.
          There is also another factor I would like to mention: the foreign money coming back into Iran on a small scale, funnily enough a lot of it from expatriate Iranians. A lot of my friends, Iranians who have lived in London since 1978, 1979 are in inverted commas going home.
          They live in London and Iran, they live in Paris and Iran, they live in New York and Iran, they live in California and Iran. And what they are doing is transferring money back to Iran and buying property.
          The Iranians, particularly the Iranians in the UK, are benefitting from the very lively steady exchange rate but they are also benefiting from low prices for very good properties which are now available in Iran, especially in Tehran. So there is quite a boom going on. The wholesale trade is doing extremely well.
          I will now look at the connection with the USA. I have a feeling that eventually Mr Khatemi will be forced to develop a rapprochement with the USA. We have already got over two no go areas: the attitude of the Arabs has changed quite remarkably towards Iran. A door has been thrust open. I hope the Arabs appreciate just how far it has been thrust open.
          Secondly Europe. Iran is now genuinely making real friends with the people in high places. This is a real change. Before there was talk about it and nothing really happened. Now it is really happening. I think the German visit sealed this change.
          The third big door to be battered open is the USA. I am not ready to sit here and say theUnited States is right and the Iranians are wrong. Quite the contrary. You have two sides who are adopting premadonish attitudes of the most extreme form. Neither will move towards the other till the other moves.
It seems like a grand opera. The sad thing is it has been played out on the international stage at the diplomatic level.
          But I think that change is on its way. And one of the first signs I have seen is that the Americans have now begun to talk seriously about reducing sanction levels on Iran. Whether they will or not I can’t say. But while the United states is continuing to threaten sanctions the reality is they won’t do anything about them. As an indicator look at the way sanctions on Libya have gone. If they can lift sanctions on Libya at the United Nations level then the lifting of sanctions on Iran won’t be far behind.
          On the Iranian side changes are quite extensive. Mr Kharazi, the Foreign Minister, said that Iran has not closed the door on the United States. Mr Khatemi has also made it very, very clear that the national interests for Iran now are more important than ideology. And that statement, alone, comes at the beginning of the end of the propaganda war which scared relations between the two sides.
          What I would like to hear from the Iranians is whether they believe there are genuine moves on the part of Iran. There is a counter reaction from the conservatives which is damaging to Iran’s economy and external image.
          If you are looking for an example,  look at the way the arrest of 13 Jewish gentlemen in Iran is being greeted in America and Europe. The propaganda machine churns on and all of a sudden Iran, which has made more moves towards the Americans than anybody, suddenly finds itself in the dock as the criminal case  in the imprisonment of the Iranian Jews.
          Iran’s internal situation makes it difficult for it to move towards the USA and the USA seizes on every possible instance it can to keep the door closed on Iran. Why this should be is very simple. It is so cheap, so easy for the West to contain Iran with the present regime of sanctions rather than to have Iran as a free negotiating partner in the international community.
          As long as Iran can be deemed to have a semi-pariah state status it means that the Americans have the option in their politics of keeping Iran under sanctions. On the American side, not on the Iranian, sanctions still have an enormously pleasurable taste.
 a contemporary angle are homosexuality and transvestism and how this relates to popular music and film criticism.
According to various theorists such as Easthope and Giddens, gender is ÔmarkedÕ and can be categorised through three main facets of human experience the Easthope (1986) states to be that of
… the body and the biological; that of social roles; and that at which gender is defined in the unconscious.
This definition proves to be relationally significant in the formation of an indvidualÕs identity.  Freudian psychoanalysis depicts the crucial Oedipal stage/complex and infantile sexuality in the developmen.

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