back to article IT in Iran: Servers sold on the grey market, and the rule of FOSS

Usually for the eXpat Files we talk to folk who have moved to another country. But this week, Vulture Weekend has varied things a little to chat to 28 year-old Roozbeh Shafiee from Tehran, Iran. As readers doubtless know, Iran restricts internet access and hasn't always been keen on freedom of assembly. It's also the subject …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was around 2010/11 I was given the chance to go in as an IT troubleshooter in the Iranian embassy in London. The IT was in a bit of a state, and I would have been there for a couple of months. I don't speak a word of Farsi so had a translator provided during my presentation to the consulate general. About halfway through there was a tap on the door, and a woman came through with a trolley of coffee and a tray of Ferraro Roche. As the CG offered me the tray, it took all of my effort not to quote the advert, but I did settle for "oh thank you sir, you're really spoiling me!" Whilst holding a straight face. I got the job, but it came to nought, about 2 weeks later the embassy IT support staff were expelled as part of new sanctions. As a side note I did raise the issue of obtaining hardware despite the embargo, and the response was that it wasn't a problem that couldnt be solved by visiting each of the PC worlds in London, and paying by credit card.

    1. Bloakey1

      Phewww, I thought you were going to say you went in via an already crowded balcony.

      I like Iranians, a very cultured lot. I once had occasion to sup mint tea with Hezbollah in South Lebanon and they were nice chaps and not crazies at all. We are living in a strabge world at the moment where the USA's declared axis of evil are all being brought back into the fold. We are indeed living in strange an interesting times where the main enemy now is a creation of the USA as were the few mutations before.

      I think it is time to sanction the US!!!

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        The sheriff of Youtube gonna wipe you out.

      2. Bob H

        @Bloakey1

        Indeed, I worked for a few years with an Iranian and we still see each other at conferences once a year. Lovely bloke, very philosophical.

        1. Bloakey1

          Re: @Bloakey1

          "Indeed, I worked for a few years with an Iranian and we still see each other at conferences once a year. Lovely bloke, very philosophical."

          Yep. I fought in Lebanon in the eighties and I always said that while the US was playing poker the Iranians were playing chess. They are a sophisticated people and have centuries of history behind them whereas the US , well the less said the better.

          A certain Eisenhower once wrote as he was leaving office:

          "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together."

  2. DropBear
    Facepalm

    *Sigh*...

    Perhaps somewhat unrelated, but science in Iran seems to be done at a high enough academic level for a Lawrenceville plasma fusion research lab to see fit to invite an Iranian professor over to the US to help them with their bleeding-edge research (apparently scientific collaboration was _not_ under embargo so this was perfectly possible). Of course, leave it to the good old Uncle Sam to grant the guy a visa only to change his mind five minutes later...

    1. Awil Onmearse

      Re: *Sigh*...

      Sure, wasn't he already in the US, and the State dept refused a visa change that would allow his family to travel?

      Dunno where he'd personally be safer from the Mossad murder-squads though, Tehran being a fucking risky place for nuclear scientists and the US being full of Israeli collaborators.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Iran in the dark ages

    Great culture and great education won't help Iranian's in the global IT market. Even with reduced sanctions, no one in the western world trusts the Iranian government and this will still have negative consequences for the Iranian IT community for a very long time.

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      The new Persian Empires

      > no one in the western world trusts the Iranian government

      What the hell difference will that make when the Iranian shipping companies meet the Somali pirates?

      Anyone know what the market in Greek Transport is going for?

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Iran in the dark ages

      I live near Los Angeles, somewhere with a large Iranian community. I have Iranians among my colleagues. They're pretty smart and so they don't seem to have much of a problem getting work. Its true that they're in the US rather than Iran but they have friends and family back there that they communicate with regularly; the only thing that restricts their movements is appropriate visas.

      I've always thought that the sanctions regime was pointless. A lot of stuff is made in China and the Chinese aren't that bothered who buys it.

      The biggest danger Iran poses to the west is that it has the potential to be a giant Israel. (Israel, in case you don't know, has an outsized technology presence -- it sucks a lot of quality R&D out of the US thanks to its home grown talent and significant import of educated Russians.)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tragic

    The Iranians are some of the classiest people I ever met. Yet for some reason we dine with the Saudis, exporters of terrorism the world over.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Tragic

      It's called politics. Many countries, including the US are still pissed about the deposing of the Shah... who was an all around nasty guy like Saddam, but for those pragmatics, they did keep the balance of power in the region under control.

      As for the daesh now running amok.. our buddies the Sauds are responsible that nightmare. That bit of history way back when the royal family consolidated their power and started funding them points the direction this is headed. Regime changes in the mid-East are never a good thing in the long term.

      1. Bloakey1

        Re: Tragic

        <snip>

        "As for the daesh now running amok.. our buddies the Sauds are responsible that nightmare. That bit of history way back when the royal family consolidated their power and started funding them points the direction this is headed. Regime changes in the mid-East are never a good thing in the long term."

        Daesh is a creation of the US as is the house of Saud. Do not forget that the house of Saud funded, bailed out and otherwise supported a certain war criminal called George W. Bush throughout his career.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tragic

      We'll probably live to see the day when Iran is considered a friend of the west and whatever Saudi Arabia is called post-revolution considers the US and UK a mortal enemy, much like the Iranians did after their revolution. Can't say I really blame them, we in the US after all held a bit of a grudge against the English for a couple generations after our own.

      If you consider the relative freedoms people in Iran enjoy compared to Saudi Arabia, especially where women are concerned, most of us who live in the west would probably find a lot more common ground with people from Iran on an individual level than people in Saudi Arabia.

  5. Dieter Haussmann

    Been to Iran a few times, they are fine if a little suffocating (I don't do social) but I have no idea why they waste money on laptops and smartphones (and chandeliers) when they still don't have proper toilets. Priorities!

    1. Chairo
      Happy

      Been to Iran a few times, they are fine if a little suffocating (I don't do social) but I have no idea why they waste money on laptops and smartphones (and chandeliers) when they still don't have proper toilets. Priorities!

      The definition of "proper toilet" varies widely. Usually I don't find them in western countries.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Smartphones and laptops open up big new economic opportunities for bright people in poor locations. Proper toilets don't.

      Also proper toilets require a complicated plumbing system beyond your home and a reliable water supply. Those are often lower priority than the infrastructure that makes mobiles and laptops useful precisely because of point 1.

      In Bangalore where I work there are instructional design guidelines in most proper toilets explaining how to use them (don't stand on the seat and squat, etc.) . That's a good reminder that upward economic mobility comes first and posh plumbing is a trailing indicator.

  6. Peter2 Silver badge

    So, to recap the sanctions designed to cripple Iran have simply done about what you'd logically expect. With no competition the industries in the country have kitted up and are doing quite well. Industries doing quite well has created a lot of jobs which has been good news for their economy, and since they are blocked from bringing in experts from overseas they have simply upped training and grown their own experts.

    Maybe next time we are trying to destroy a companies economy we ought to just pay China to dump masses of cheap goods on the target country so everybody buys chinese goods, which then destroys the companies, the supply chains and all of the jobs attached. With no jobs this destroys training and reduces education to subjects such as basket weaving, sociology and creating "management experts", the latter of which we should export en masse to ensure that the damage done to us is minimised and the economic destruction caused to the target is comprehensive.

    We know this would work better than sanctions from our experiance over the last 20 years.

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