Iran's Presidential Candidates Talk Economic Policies in 2nd Live Debate Ahead of June 28 Vote

Iranian presidential candidates attend an election debate at a television studio in Tehran, Iran June 20, 2024. Morteza Fakhri Nezhad/IRIB/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS
Iranian presidential candidates attend an election debate at a television studio in Tehran, Iran June 20, 2024. Morteza Fakhri Nezhad/IRIB/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS
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Iran's Presidential Candidates Talk Economic Policies in 2nd Live Debate Ahead of June 28 Vote

Iranian presidential candidates attend an election debate at a television studio in Tehran, Iran June 20, 2024. Morteza Fakhri Nezhad/IRIB/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS
Iranian presidential candidates attend an election debate at a television studio in Tehran, Iran June 20, 2024. Morteza Fakhri Nezhad/IRIB/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

In the second live debate on state television, six presidential candidates on Thursday discussed Iran's economic problems ahead of the country's June 28 election following a helicopter crash last month that killed President Ebrahim Raisi and seven others.
It was the second of five debates planned in the days before the vote in a shortened campaign to replace Raisi, a hardline protégé of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei once floated as a possible successor to the 85-year-old cleric, said The Associated Press.
Like the first debate, the second one also related to economics with the candidates discussing their proposals for Iran’s spiraling economy which is struggling under sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western nations.
The candidates also discussed inflation, the budget deficit, fuel consumption subsidies and education. They all promised to try to get the sanctions lifted and to introduce reforms, but none offered concrete details.
“Negotiation is a method of struggle," said prominent candidate Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, 62, with regards to getting the Western sanctions on Iran lifted. Qalibaf is a former Tehran mayor with close ties to the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
He emphasized the destructiveness of the sanctions on the economy and said that Iranians have a right to a good life, not just an ordinary life.
Iran’s vice president, Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi, 53, said he will continue Raisi’s unfinished administration and vowed to develop the tourism industry.
Regarding the health sector and the emigration of doctors and nurses abroad, Qalibaf said there should be a fundamental change in the way health workers are paid to increase the motivation to stay.
Many doctors and nurses reportedly have left Iran in recent years over its deepening economic woes and poor working conditions. Qalibaf's call for more pay for health workers was repeated by the other candidates.
All the candidates said they believe the Education Ministry is the most important part of the government because “the next generation of the country is raised in this ministry.” Qalibaf said the ministry's budget must be increased.
The one pro-reform candidate, Masoud Pezeshkian, who is backed by pro-reform figures such as former President Mohammad Khatami and former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, thinks the economic crisis can be resolved by solving party differences inside the country as well as external factors.
The June 28 election comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran’s rapidly advancing nuclear program, its arming of Russia in that country’s war on Ukraine and its wide-reaching crackdowns on dissent.
Iran’s support of militia proxy forces throughout the wider Middle East, meanwhile, has been increasingly in the spotlight as Iran-backed Yemen’s Houthi militants attack ships in the Red Sea over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.



Taiwan Starts Annual War Games, Aiming to Closely Mimic Actual Combat

Soldiers take part in the first day of the annual Han Kuang military drills in Taoyuan, Taiwan July 22, 2024. REUTERS/Ann Wang
Soldiers take part in the first day of the annual Han Kuang military drills in Taoyuan, Taiwan July 22, 2024. REUTERS/Ann Wang
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Taiwan Starts Annual War Games, Aiming to Closely Mimic Actual Combat

Soldiers take part in the first day of the annual Han Kuang military drills in Taoyuan, Taiwan July 22, 2024. REUTERS/Ann Wang
Soldiers take part in the first day of the annual Han Kuang military drills in Taoyuan, Taiwan July 22, 2024. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Taiwan started its annual Han Kuang war games on Monday, which this year aim to be as close as possible to actual combat with no script and simulating how to repel a Chinese attack.
China, which views democratically governed Taiwan as its territory, has been staging regular exercises around the island for four years to pressure Taipei to accept Beijing's claim of sovereignty, despite Taiwan's strong objections, said Reuters.
Taiwan's drills this year have canceled elements that were mostly for show, like scripted firepower displays, while there will be intensified nighttime exercises and practicing how to operate with severed command lines.
Kicking off the exercises in the northern city of Taoyuan, outside of Taipei and home to Taiwan's main international airport, reservists gathered to get their orders as they would during a war, and civilian vans were pressed into service to carry supplies.
Later in the day the military will practice defending a major Taipei port.
On Thursday, Taoyuan airport will close for an hour in the morning for the drills, though a typhoon is expected to be impacting the island that day meaning that the exercise could be delayed.
Live fire drills will only take place on Taiwan's outlying islands, including Kinmen and Matsu which sit nestled next to the Chinese coast and were the scene of on-off clashes during the height of the Cold War.
The five-day war games will be happening in conjunction with the Wan'an civil defense drills, where the streets of major cities are evacuated for half an hour during a simulated Chinese missile attack, and test warning alarms will sound on mobile phones.