Iran Caution

I’m following events with hope and fear, while there have been deaths Ahmadinejad and/or the Guardian council have not resorted to tanks and soldiers yet. With the news they are bussing in Ahmadinejad supporters to match urban protesters who are being contained could go several ways. Pulse has some more coverage here and here, the comments are interesting too. As I said before, I think both interpretations can be right, there was fraud but Ahmadinejad probably won anyway, they just got greedy (authoritarians often get carried away with the breadth of their power). Two things are happening now- power blocs squaring up to each other while the demonstrations have their own integrity and momentum. The framing of Mousavi vs. Ahmadinejad ignores the complexity of both men’s history and the powers vested in the Guardian Council, rather a significant number of Iranians are resisting an oppressive establishment. Something we all can empathise with, and indeed it’s quite a lesson in a young populace engaged with their nation.

However there can be no doubt forces outside of Iran, mostly American and Israeli (and oil theocracy/aristocracy proxies in the ME) are happy to use these events to pursue their own agenda against Iran. The Pentagon have said they consider cyberspace an area they wish to dominate for their advantage and Israeli infiltration is so great it even pisses off the US spooks. So out of all the tweeting, Facebooking, 24 hour news coverage etc. some of that will be done by entities with aims not remotely compatible with the welfare of Iranians.

What is remarkable is the passion and excitement aroused by the election, compare that with the Brooks Brothers ‘riot’ in Florida 2000, a fake event to prevent votes being counted! The Iranian demonstrations have now gained their own validity and momentum, quite apart from the contested result, with a very young demographic and demands for rights and liberties the curmudgeonly establishment disdain even as they fight amongst themselves-

It is important to note that Khamenei’s place at the top of the regime has not always been assured. At the time of his appointment as Supreme Leader following Khomeini’s death, there were many in Iran’s clerical elites who felt that Khamenei did not have the religious qualifications for the post. Rivalries within the regime’s old guard of clerics have been longstanding and while the structure of the Islamic Republic places Khmenei in a dominant position, it also allows for possible confrontations. Rafsanjani, for example, is currently the head of the Assembly of Experts, a body of clerics which is charged with electing, and if need be, removing the Supreme Leader. It is in Khamenei’s interest to weaken those rivals with strong revolutionary and religious credentials, as they could challenge him in the future. Challenge from such rivals would be especially likely and threatening to Khamenei if Iranian society pushes in a more reformist direction, as it seems to have a tendency to do every few years. Khamenei and his allies are wary of other regime rivals outflanking them by riding a wave of reformist sentiment to power.

 In confronting these potential rivals, Khamenei can rely on a new generation of power brokers in the Islamic Republic that have few large personalities from the early days of the revolution and owe their loyalty more directly to the Supreme Leader. Ahmadinejad and his supporters, namely in the Revolutionary Guard and Basij, are the leading members of this new generation. Khamenei has, especially in the last few years with Ahmadinejad’s help, cultivated a strong relationship with these groups by largely aligning with their interests and policy preferences. This has been evident in a whole range of areas. In economic and industrial policy the Revolutionary Guard have played an increasingly significant role in key industrial sectors such as oil and imports. Other core areas of convergence include political and foreign policy issues such as the support of Ahmadinejad in opposition to the reformist movement and the unwavering support of the nuclear program.

While Mousavi may be trying to harness the dissent for his own ends-

But one could more plausibly suggest that if a “coup” is being attempted, it has been mounted by the losers in Friday’s election. It was Mousavi, after all, who declared victory on Friday even before Iran’s polls closed. And three days before the election, Mousavi supporter Rafsanjani published a letter criticizing the leader’s failure to rein in Ahmadinejad’s resort to “such ugly and sin-infected phenomena as insults, lies and false allegations.” Many Iranians took this letter as an indication that the Mousavi camp was concerned their candidate had fallen behind in the campaign’s closing days.

There is a genuine desire for better government among the protesters, hopefully they can find leaders who will represent that and act on it. (Hopefully we can too.)

Also see Iran Media-pendium

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