tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera July 16, 2015 1:30am-2:01am EDT
public proud of its heritage open to new ways of reading, but still anymored with the russell. >> keep up to date for the news on our website. >> i'm ali velshi. "on target" tonight far from perfect. i'll talk about the big problem that the nuclear deal in iran doesn't solve. plus money versus power how iran had to choose economic prosperity over nuclear ambition. the nuclear option is off the table. now comes the hard part: the u.s. has to decide whether to turn its iranian partners into friends.
i can tell you this, it's complicated after two weeks in iran. whether iran is ultimately friend or foe this is not a perfect deal. having spent time with iranian people i can assure you they needed this deal. they elected president rouhani, in part, to seal this deal. but they needed sanctions lifted. everybody agrees we are witnessing history, but what kind of history. some argue this would be good history. president obama says this leads to an iran that is less hostile and more cooperative. however, as expressed by israeli prime minister b, calling this an historic mistake for the world. and others wondering whether you're on the right side of history, syria's bashar al-assad
calls this a historic victory or vladimir putin refers to it as a huge relief, and much of iran's supply being off the market, it's got far more to gain from the deal that opens the economy, stronger iran means a stronger customer for conventional weapons the iranians will eventually be able to purhase on the newly opened market. but what if this deal opens up iran to the united states? who are we dealing with? based on 2014, we've got some problems. for starters human rights watch saw no significant improvement in human rights in the first full year in office of president rock 'n' hassan rouhani. referred to america's new potential partners as serial human rights abusers.
punishment by death, such as insulting the prophet, same sex relations and drug related offenses. iran held at least 48 journalists, bloggers and social media users in detention. during my time in iran we did agree to that, our colleague roxana saberi spent four years in a tehran prison while working for another organization. she could see the prison from the iranian hotel, she got out but many others she met in prison haven't been so lucky. here's her story. >> in 2003 hi the chance to work as a journalist in my father's native land of iran. one demonstrator was killed in the southern city of jiran. many feel their voices haven't been heard. people would ask me where are you from? should i really say america?
i was in my home on january 31st. when at 9:00 in the morning, four men from the intelligence ministry came to my home. i would be taken to evan that evening. roxana saberi jailed in tehran. >> i was interrogated for several hours. blindfolded, facing a wall up to four men, i was in solitary confinement for seven days. >> the charges against her are baseless. she has been subjected to a process that has been nontransparent, unpredictable, arbitrary. >> and people were calling for my freedom, i wasn't alone. >> was told about half hour ago that she will be free as of today. >> welcome [applause] >> i'm so happy to be back home in the land of the free. >> i went to iran because i wanted to learn more about my father's native country and to learn the language.
and i learned to love the country. and definitely i hope to go back some day. >> joining me is roxana saberi, she's a correspondent with al jazeera america, she is someone who is especially familiar with how dangerous working as a journalist in iran can be. roxana tell us what happened. >> i was living and working in iran for six years, one day people came and took me away, took me to the prison one of the most notorious prisons -- >> they didn't want us to take pictures of it. >> they didn't want to film it. if you are a journalist you better not get caught talking to them. so i was taken there and they accused me of being a spy for united states. >> on what basis? >> they said i was interviewing too many people. i was working on a book about iran, working on it for about two years, going around the country, interviewing different
kinds of people so i could show a broad perspective interviews about the country. they said it is not possible that you could interview so many people just for a book. it must be a cover for espionage for cia. who told you to write a book? >> they didn't believe you? >> they didn't. they say you're lying you're lying unless you confess we're not going to let you go home. >> like the shows, they were coercing you to say make it easy on yourself, just admit you were spying. >> just admit it, you have to confess to be a spy ask for forgiveness and you have to agree to spy for us. >> and what happened then? >> well i gave in under their pressure and i was in solitary confinement. nobody knew where i was, this is what they do to political prisoners to put the maximum amount of pressure on a prisoner like they are your only path to the outside world. i didn't know what to do.
i decided i'll make a false confession, if anybody sees the video because they take a video of you i'll just say it was obunch of lies and they're not going to believe it. i made the false confetion and then i was taken out of solitary confinement and the other women political prisoners gave me courage to stay back my false confession so i the. and i was sentenced to eight years in prison. >> jason rezaian, they let him know a couple of hours beforehand, let his lawyer know, has a little hearing and sits in jail for another month. >> it seems very arbitrary especially when you are the one in the cell. i had on the ticker, roxana saberi is going to go on trial on whatever day, and i'd be like oh really i didn't know, it's good to find out from the tv.
>> how did you survive in that environment, you being in a cell and solitary confinement. >> sol industry confinement was the hardest, for me it was two weeks, for jason rez rezaian, you don't usually get books or pen or paper you don't have a tv at that point usually. you get so alone you start to think to yourself, talk to yourself, wonder if you're going to lose your insanity. you would rather speak to your interrogate uber, who is pressuring you to make statements that are not true, than to be alone. >> what happened to you? they sentenced you. >> to eight years in prison. i was very fortunate, eventually people found out where i was and many people thankfully spoke out for me and i believe this pressure helped set me free. >> and you got out in 100 days. >> i did. >> how has that changed you? >> it's changed me immensely, in
certain ways because i just -- i appreciate freedom a lot more than i did before. i had reported on people who were in prison before but i had never known what it feels like to have basic freedoms taken away. the freedom to read what you want. to interview people you want to interview. to walk in the streets when you want. to turn out the lights at night. to walk without being handcuffed or wearing a blindfold. to use the telephone to call your loved ones. those basic freedoms. i hadn't realized the value of them before and now i know still some people who are in prison, two of my cell mates are still in prison. they've been sentenced to 20 years in prison. they are members of the bahai faith. i wish they were so lucky. >> it's interesting because iran allows certain be rights to jews and christians but -- >> they don't recognize the bahai faith.
>> the iran nuclear deal. >> every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off. >> for more depth... >> what does the president have to do to win over skeptical allies? >> more perspective... >> every iranian will be happy. >> iran cannot be trusted. >> more insight... >> iran is actually trying to build trust with the international community. >> and more understanding... stay with al jazeera america. >> the nuclear deal reached with rawrch does nothing to address what human rights activists, says has a country with highest execution rate. so far this year iran has executed 650 people hundreds of them for nonviolent drug crimes. the country has more than 900 political prisoners and as we told you
earlier, the washington post bureau chief jairc jairc jairc jason rezaian is in solitary confinement. why do you think this will help, we do live under this illusion that when deals like this are made and these countries open up they will also open up to criticism of their human rights positions. >> right. one thing i want to make very clear right off the bat, we make no position on the nuclear rights deal. the position of human rights watch is that there will be many opportunities. iran will engage more, there will be more businesses, there will be more political engagement and integration in the international community.
>> why do you think that matters though? there will be people, ceos saying we want to establish a factory here. but could you d deal with this human rights issue? do you think that happens? >> i think that does happen. i think we have had cases where countries have opened up and that opening up has allowed the international community more leverage points. if for instance we're going so sell you telecommunications technology we don't want it to be used for surveillance. if it is used for surveillance you. that is leverage. >> when the buck is almighty and profit is so valuable. >> often businesses are not well to do that, the buck is the most important thing for them. but organization he like human rights watch come in to push these business to say you have a voice, speak up, change can actually happen. >> what is the health of human rights organizations in iran? do they exist?
can they speak? i know one prisoner who is a human rights activist who is in jail. >> human rights organizations as such do not exist in iran. they have been shut down. the hope is that this will lead to a more vibrant society and the government will have no choice but to let it go forward that way. >> i want to talk about women for a moment. in march you and a colleague wrote ang articl an article, this was a fascinating fact to me, iranian women were a very big part of the islamic revolution, more part of the government than men are possibly more equal in public life than they are in any other middle eastern country. >> that's correct. iran is not saudi arabia. as you mentioned, 60% of university students are women,
women work, very much part of the workforce. women politician he, in the parliament. with all of that said, civil rights still does not exist in the penal code or the political system. there is a huge disconnect between their role as a woman in society and what they are actually up against in the court system and the legal system. >> the escort system legal system judiciary is still dominated by hard liners. society in iran is not dominated by hard liners. >> that is correct. that is correct. and that disconnect is really what we're talking about. let me give you just one quick example. women'women have not been loud o watchmen's volleyball games. all of a sudden hard liners pushed and said women and men should not mitchell in stadiums. women said we have been watching volleyball for decades. even that has been taken away
from us. there's a huge disconnect. >> that's under ahmadinejad's government. now, under rouhani, president rouhani is backing the vice president, the government thinks i.t. should be okay women to go to these things but hard liners say that is not okay. >> that is correct. we are actually pushing for world volleyball federation, hosting volleyball in iran dpm they take away these bans for volleyball, they took away one of the hosting rights for men's volleyball and if this ban continues, we'll have more leverage points. >> volleyball is a hugely popular sport in iran. thank you for joining us. up next, entrepreneurs that
i spoke >> my heart is racing so fast. >> standing at a crossroads. >> my parents have their plan... i'm gonna do what god asks me to do before what they ask me to do. >> can a family come together? >> do you think that you can try and accept me for me? >> life changing moments. >> my future is in my hands right now. >> from oscar winning director alex gibney. a ground breaking look at the real issues facing american teens on -
>> after the nuclear deal was announced iranians poured into the street to celebrate. they have high hopes to better ways after the sanctions are lifted. you could almost see the dollar signs in their eyes, as they looked forward to getting back to business. to them, choosing money over nuclear ambitions was a no brainer. >> we need to export what we make and also import things that are not worth creating in-house. >> like many iranians we met, hesitant to talk politics but
eager to tell us that given a choice between iran's nuclear ambitions and the country's economic prosperity he would choose integrating iran back into the world economy. >> in this very unique moment in time, iran needs to move away from its oil exporting dependency and move towards a more production based economy. >> part of iran's auto industry, one of the largest in asia, second only to oil and gas industry. he said sanctions forced him to make parts instead of importing them. now that sanctions are about to be lifted he thinks iran is ready to export cars to the world. and the carpet industry, hamid is a trader, working inside the carpet bazaar . few years ago, the business was
so good he was sending a container to the u.s. once a week. >> now we have coloring workshops sellers dealers, when we can't export our product abroad, we have to depend on local demand which is impossible to rely on itself. if sanctions get lifted we'll see a boom. >> our industry. >> the sanctions imposed on iran are among the toughest imposed on a country. in my hands i have 3 million reale, three million of the currency unit divided into 5,000 reale notes. this is worth $100 and three years ago this was worth $250. one way iranians try ohedge against rampant inflation is to buy gold. that's why kourosh says his jewelry business tends to do good in
good times and bad. >> we have differences for one day and sometimes in one hour we have so many different prices. it causes us many problems. >> despite the hardships sanction he pose for most iranians, local high technical entrepreneurs told us they offer opportunities that otherwise would not have been them for us. mohammed is founder of saba idea, a firm that has taken off and a hit with iranians online. >> translator: sanctions increased our cost of research and development because we weren't able to collaborate with countries abroad. but we benefited because they forced us to produce where solutions on our own. we will be able to deliver our product with more efficiency. >> and now that a deal on iran's nuclear program is in place many in iran are hopeful that the
chances for economic prosperity will only grow. well the iran nuclear deal may be a huge economic step forward but there's plenty of internal politics and domestic issues that may hold iran back. warns that may be a bumpy ride not just for iranians but those looking to do business in the country. she joins me from london. thank you so much. we have heard this from a number of people to say you can't blame all of iran's economic woes on sanctions. there is a good amount of mismanagement that goes on with the iranian economy. >> absolutely. 100% right. the salt lak islamic republic has been able to use this and distract people from three plus decades of
profound miss management. double digit unemployment and suffers from subsidies, overdependency on oil revenues. so there are a myriad of problems for regime to tackle. >> i don't know whether it was propaganda, but, every iranian could dray some line between the prosperity. what is likely to happen that will actually create prosperity not just for iranians as a whole but for those at the bottom which have really been hit hard by sanctions? >> i think again what the government has successfully done is try to equate sanctions relief with economic improvement. and if you've been fed that diet for three, four years everyone will eventually believe it. and of course sanctions have trickled down and impacted average citizens in iran from not being able to buy medicine
to fewer goods and the markets, more unemployment, but what we're going to see is going to take about six to eight months to transpire and hopefully when iran gets reintegrated into the international economy, it will start selling goods abroad and at the same time be able to employ a large portion of the population that has suffered and that will be the middle and lower classes that are desperate for employment. on a basic employment level there are chances for growth right then and there. >> it looks like, there are some areas like the swift banking sanction which is like a switch, the moment those sanctions are lifted the banking system has the strength to move money around the world. the energy industry the refineries have been missing parts, the auto industry big
industry in iran but not fully -- not as fully developed and no, sir with as many international players. when can we start to see that the world reengages with iran and starts benefiting from the lifting of the sanctions? >> i believe the world and specifically europe and asia are very eager. the planes to tehran have apparently been full and investors are looking for opportunities. however the iranians themselves have to create an investment climate that lowers risk in iran and they have to allow foreign investors to be able to invest in foreign companies and have a greater transparency. and that's going to be a big problem. particularly from westerners who remain weary of what to expect ton iranian side. i think again, the iranians have about six to eight months to sort of prepare the ground, set up meetings, maybe develop contracts. and so probably in second quarter of 2016 we might be able to see some tangible
disagreements come to fruition. >> obviously one of the problems when countries open up to business is you just mentioned contracts. the idea that businesses come in and understand there's a rule of law and things are not going to be turned over on a whim or on the basis of public sentiment. there are hard liners in iran who don't particularly like this deal. how do they make their impact felt as commerce begins to -- international commerce begins to develop again in iran? >> thrats a really that's a really good question because those hard liners have ties to conglomerates and deep pockets in the country and they are wary on the one hand of syria's investment they don't want to lose their dominant positions, in oil and gas, to name one so they're going to be quite wary of foreigners coming in and they are ideologically
just cautious of foreign presence in iran to begin with. the whole manned of the islamic republic guard corps is to protect the country from defense of iran, and the islamic revolution. so there's definitely going to be some tensions and it's not going to be as easy as investors might expect. >> sounds like it's all for business go on your plane and go over there are business, is not as easy. the author of women and politics in rawn iran, action and reaction. join me sunday night, 9:00 p.m, iran behind the deal from the streets of tehran to the straits of ho hormuz.
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