June 8, 2009

Will Iran's 'Marriage Crisis' Bring Down Ahmadinejad?

Posted: 11:56 PM ET

By Azadeh Moaveni

art.iranMy friends Farhad and Mahnaz are the quintessential Iranian couple. They are both engineers with a shared passion for hiking and movies and have been smitten with each other for six years — but Farhad and Mahnaz can't afford to get married because even a one-bedroom apartment is beyond their reach, despite their both having decent middle-class jobs. This reality has preyed on their relationship, compelling them to consider leaving Iran. And they blame the government for their situation.

"We aren't lazy, and we aren't aiming for anything so high," says Mahnaz.

These days, the phrase "marriage crisis" pops up in election debates, newspapers and blogs and is considered by government officials and ordinary Iranians alike to be one of the nation's most serious problems. It refers to the rising number of young people of marrying age who cannot afford to marry or are choosing not to tie the knot. By official estimates, there are currently 13 million to 15 million Iranians of marrying age; to keep that figure steady, Iran should be registering about 1.65 million marriages each year. The real figure is closer to half that. (See photographs of "The Long Shadow of Ayatullah Khomeini.")

Why does this matter? Because Iran's government cannot afford to further alienate the young people that comprise more than 35% of its population. The young are already seething over their government's radical stance in the world and its trashing of the economy, and their anger easily expresses itself politically. As they decide how to vote in Friday's presidential election, young people like Farhad and Mahnaz are likely to base their decision in part on who they think will address the problem closest to their heart. (Read "North Korea Wipes Out Iran — from the World Cup.")

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Filed under: Iran • Larry King Live • Politics

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Jan   June 9th, 2009 1:11 am ET

Monday night's broadcast:
WOW have you guys sat back and watched what we see from this end of the broadcast?? You might try it. I actually had to turn the sound off. Why you ask? Everyone was talking at the same time! Cacophony extraoridinaire! Larry – help! When will you be back??

Asale M. Kimaada   June 9th, 2009 1:31 am ET

On 06-08-09 the Countess LuAnn DeLesseps, stated that her family gave the United States of America, the Statue of Liberty. I read that the original Statue of Liberty was an African American Woman holding up a broken chain signifying the freedom of the African American people. And, that the United States felt it was offensive to the Confederacy. And the statue was changed to look like it looks today. Could you ask the Countess if that is true and if her family has a pictue of the original Statue of Liberty. Thank you so much
Asale M. Kimaada

Michael C. McHugh   June 9th, 2009 9:02 am ET

Obama knows some things about the internal situation in Iran that many of these people on the Right who are screaming for war do not. He knows their economy is in very poor shape and that many young people are very dissatisfied with the whole regime, and that the current president is likely to lose the upcoming elections.

Because he considers these internal political and economic factors when dealing with countries like Iran and North Korea, his foreign policy is far more subtle and sophisticated than that of Bush-Cheney, and the Right-wingers in the US and other countries.

Rose   June 9th, 2009 5:16 pm ET

Iran has a very large number of young people under the age of 30 – about 60% of the population. Two-thirds of all university students are women. This critical shift in demographics and the rapid growth of educated women in Iran requires the use of careful language when addressing Iranians.

Obama spoke in terms that would appeal to the young and their need for change and economic security. Such change must be brought forth internally in Iran and not from attacks and wars from external parties such as the US – as manifested by the Right. The past negative American role in Iran, especially in supporting the ruthless Shah and his brutal secret police for decades, created hatred in generations of Iranians.

Threats of war will only be used by the clerics in power to create more anti-American sentiment. This in turn will lead to more problems for the US. Since the 1950's Iran has:

– Ousted the Shah
– Democratically elected the western educated Dr. Mossadeq
– Dealt with the CIA bringing back the Shah and getting rid of Mossadeq
– Then finally ousted the Shah in 1979 (the US gave him refuge)
– Brought in a theocracy (that's what happens when all opposition was ruled out by the Shah – religion conquers)
– Dealt with an 8-year war started by Saddam and backed by the US.

Change is possible, but not by brutal force. Obama identified and addressed this nuanced change brilliantly in his speech in the Middle East. It's a good start.

Terry, TX   June 9th, 2009 11:04 pm ET

Iran is a brutal force and this man will not be brought down by a simple marriage crisis....get real and smell the roses...

Dave of Detroit   June 9th, 2009 11:39 pm ET

I find it significant that the moral leader of the world has more abortions than the Iranians have marriages-Which of the two countries is going the right way here?

Rose   June 10th, 2009 10:10 am ET

Had the US "not" interfered in Iranian politics in 1953 – when Iran was turning into a democracy – we may not have all the problems with them today. Rather than allowing democracy to flourish there, the US only thought about its own interests and re-installed the Shah,

Interests such as immense oil wealth, control over the Shah, using Iran geo-politically as it was a buffer-state with the Soviet Union and that the Shah was a major arms buyer from the US. That ride came to an abrupt end in 1979. Most Americans thought only of the "hostage crisis" with US embassy workers there. All the "set them free" yellow ribbons everywhere. Comments about the staunch clerics. There were few discussions about "cause".

Lessons of interfering with another nation's development must be learned from all of this. Now over half a century later, President Obama has the great task of using a new language and creating a more positive momentum concerning Iran. The American RIght's approach is out of pace with the reality of today's circumstances. The Right promotes a continuation of very negative policies.

Dave of Detroit   June 11th, 2009 12:22 am ET

I don't know if anyone has noticed this but since the Bush Administration the amount of money that we have to spend has been decreasing rapidly-those military toys are REALLY expensive! If it reaches the point that we cannot afford a one bedroom apartment and get married , it will mean a new type of war of attrition-inability to procreate due to lack of funds. It is the human version of a snake swallowing its tail....I am in a strange mood tonight, It can't be senility or insanity, crossed those bridges years ago-Could I be going SANE?

Rose   June 11th, 2009 7:55 pm ET

It was just reported that today – just two days before the Iranian elections, there are hundreds of thousands of (young) Iranians demanding change to a more moderate stance. Exactly my point about internal change instead of strong arm tactics. Are the Republicans listening out there?

Ramin From Milwaukee   June 16th, 2009 9:12 pm ET

Mr. King,
I have to thank CNN and specially Christiane for the excellent job of broadcasting events of past few days in Iran. Please keep covering the news from Iran. Please let the world knows about breech of human right in Iran.

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