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The new Islamic revolution
January 1, 2010 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Six days ago, Seyed Ali Mousavi, nephew of Iranian opposition leader and figurehead of the Green Movement Mir Hossein Mousavi [wikipedia | facebook] was shot dead during the latest round of protests in Tehran; Seyed Ali had apparently been threatened by the police, and had recently lost his position at the Iran Academy of Arts and Sciences. After burying his nephew amidst government-sponsored protests on Wednesday, Mir Hossein Mousavi showed renewed resolve in a statement on his website which read in part: "I’m not afraid to be one of the people’s martyrs in their struggle for their just demands... My blood is no redder than theirs," and quoted the words of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the republic: "Kill us; we will only become stronger." [New York Times | Times Onlines (UK) | Al-Jazeera | Payvan Iran | Iran Focus News | Reuters | BBC]

In the past weeks and days, Iran has found itself in the grip of a growing crisis. Six months ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retained the presidency by defeating reformer Mir Hossein Mousavi in what many people have called a rigged election; since then, a rising tide of dissension against the government, dubbed the Green Movement, has sought to reform government through peaceful protests and legal channels. The government has meanwhile apparently chosen a hard-line response, cracking down on protests harshly and killing several dozen activists involved.

Mousavi is no stranger to revolution; he and his wife were imprisoned twenty-one years ago for organizing protests which in part precipitated the overthrow of the Shah, and Mousavi himself was a friend and associate of Ayatollah Khomeini in those days. In the late 1980s, Mousavi served as the last Prime Minister of Iran until the post was dissolved in 1989.

Tehran awoke this New Year's Day to a standing police force in the streets maintaining control of all major downtown intersections. While he has some support among the religious leaders, several clerics have been vociferous in their condemnation of Mousavi and his compatriots, particularly Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who called them "flagrant examples of the corrupt on earth" and urged their swift execution "as in the early days of the revolution."

In just a few weeks, on February 11, The Republic of Iran will celebrate its twenty-first anniversary.
posted by koeselitz (74 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Seems like something's gotta give, and soon.

Excellent post, btw.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:39 PM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:43 PM on January 1, 2010



Mousavi is no stranger to revolution; he and his wife were imprisoned twenty-one years ago for organizing protests which in part precipitated the overthrow of the Shah, and Mousavi himself was a friend and associate of Ayatollah Khomeini in those days. In the late 1980s, Mousavi served as the last Prime Minister of Iran until the post was dissolved in 1989.


My worry is that after all this bloodshed and unrest, the result will be a slightly less conservative set in charge -- but still a religious theocracy. What think you, Koeselitz?
posted by bearwife at 4:51 PM on January 1, 2010


"In just a few weeks, on February 11, The Republic of Iran will celebrate its twenty-first anniversary. "

Finally old enough to drink! I hear Jordan and Syria have some plans to take Iran out on the town.

Iran, I have to warn you, stay away from something called a 'cement mixer.'
posted by mullingitover at 4:54 PM on January 1, 2010


A fantastic summary of what's going on, thank you. For the uninformed, I would highly suggest watching these developments closely; I firmly believe that the Iranian political situation was one of the most underreported developments of the past year.

A good place to start is Andrew Sullivan's coverage.
posted by Muffpub at 4:55 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


A good place to start is Andrew Sullivan's coverage.

Logging on to Twitter is not journalism.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:02 PM on January 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


Mousavi's made it clear that his goal is not the overthrow of the constitution, but its reinstatement - he's said that the whole point here is that you can't pick out certain parts of the constitution and "chuck the rest in a bin," as he's put it. When he was Prime Minister, Mousavi was chiefly a proponent of what one might call "reform" ideals, although to him these things should always have been present in the revolution; his wife is an academic and sculptor, and Mousavi has always taken the stance that women, for example, deserve more place in politics, and Mousavi has always been more open to the idea of alliances with the west.

However, it is indeed true that democratic theocracy is Mousavi's goal. If democratic theocracy worries you, or if you believe that it isn't possible, then you might see these developments as a mixed blessing. Personally, I believe democratic theocracy, of the type proposed (but so terribly enacted) by Ruhollah Khomeini, is the middle east's best hope, and I believe that Islam and democratic governance can coexist peacefully.

It should be noted that this is a common theme amongst the academics who took part in the revolution in 1979. I have in front of me, for example, a book by the brilliant Abdolkarim Soroush, a professor in Tehran before political exigencies forced him to relocate to Harvard some years ago, entitled Reason, Freedom, and Democracy in Islam which lays out the principle of democratic theocracy very well; I recommend it highly.
posted by koeselitz at 5:06 PM on January 1, 2010 [12 favorites]


/ thread-moderation
posted by koeselitz at 5:08 PM on January 1, 2010


And then there is this.
posted by mkim at 5:13 PM on January 1, 2010


Look for January 3rd and February 5th to be potentially large protest days in Iran. The opposition could use the seventh and fortieth days after Seyed Ali Mousavi's death (and the deaths of other protesters on the Day of Ashura) as pretexts for further demonstrations, just as the Shah’s opponents used the Shia mourning cycle to stage ever-bigger protests until they brought down his regime in 1979.

Ashura happened to coincide with the 7th day of mourning for Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, a respected opposition cleric. The perpetuating cycle of mourning, more deaths, mourning, more martyrs... while tragic, is like a snowball rolling down a hill.
posted by netbros at 5:16 PM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've been wondering about Andrew Sullivan's perspective in this whole situation. I follow his blog closely, though I kind of don't know why anymore (especially since the whole Palin baby scandal last year). I know he has a couple guys help him find stories. He has so many stories every day about Iran, and when the violence started up again during Ashura, it seemed like he rejoiced at the chance to bash the mainstream media and their lack of coverage.

I guess what I'm mainly confused about is if the Green Movement is as important as Sullivan says it is, why aren't more people doing significant, in-depth reporting? I know that the NYT's The Lede blog has been following the story as it develops, but I see barely anything else on most other media websites. Is there anyone reputable (i.e. not Sullivan) in the West that is trying to figure out this story?
posted by pecknpah at 5:23 PM on January 1, 2010


I guess what I'm mainly confused about is if the Green Movement is as important as Sullivan says it is, why aren't more people doing significant, in-depth reporting?

Because A) The mainstream media's reporters on the ground in Iran are banned from reporting the story and B) the mainstream media are loathe to report 'stuff they find on the internet'.
posted by empath at 5:25 PM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


How eager would you be, pecknpah, to be in Iran and doing something that will very likely piss off the Iranian government?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:27 PM on January 1, 2010


(One of the reasons I posted this was because of my first main link above, the story on Time's website about the Ashura protests last Sunday. I'm no huge fan of Time Magazine, but that story is the best account of what's going on in Tehran that I can find anywhere; and, while the lack of coverage may lead one to believe that the Green Movement is marginal at best, that story, along with the riveting photo essay that accompanied it, demonstrate clearly that Tehran is in a very real upheaval right now.)
posted by koeselitz at 5:31 PM on January 1, 2010


Is there anyone reputable (i.e. not Sullivan) in the West that is trying to figure out this story?

PBS Frontline Tehran Bureau has been stllar in covering the events in Iran.

While certainly not mainstream media, Juan Cole has been an excellent source of news and commentary about Iran and Islam in general.
posted by netbros at 5:32 PM on January 1, 2010


How eager would you be, pecknpah, to be in Iran and doing something that will very likely piss off the Iranian government?

Obviously I phrased my question wrong. I know it's dangerous for reporters to be there, and I know it's hard to do get all the facts straight when there are people in the streets and getting shot and when the situation is changing constantly. I'm just wondering why most media outlets are, for example, freaking out about the "underwear bomber" and are not as concerned about Iran?

And honestly, this is not a snarky question. It's really not. I want to know. Is it simply because it's so much easier to find people willing to talk about attempted acts of terrorism, and to find people to blame the situation on, than it is to report accurately on Iran?
posted by pecknpah at 5:34 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Zero Hedge recently recently wrote an analysis (PDF) of Iran's revolutionary potential using an old CIA metric developed to predict revolutions. Their finding was that Iran was in a far more revolutionary state then it was in 2008, which is fairly obvious. But the paper is interesting reading. They put their data online for people to review too.
posted by delmoi at 5:38 PM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the links. Sorry if I derailed anything.
posted by pecknpah at 5:42 PM on January 1, 2010


And Iran is effectively shooting itself in the foot, by banning their best and brightest students from pursuing higher education: WSJ Link.
posted by yesster at 5:44 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess what I'm mainly confused about is if the Green Movement is as important as Sullivan says it is, why aren't more people doing significant, in-depth reporting?

Well, who knows. I think the obvious answer is either A) it's not important or B) media coverage is not a good metric for determining the importance of stories, as opposed to salacious. I think B is more plausible.
posted by delmoi at 5:47 PM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm just wondering why most media outlets are, for example, freaking out about the "underwear bomber" and are not as concerned about Iran?

A week ago they were freaking out about Tiger Woods.
posted by delmoi at 5:48 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


why aren't more people doing significant, in-depth reporting?

They might be the same people who stopped covering the protests last year in favor of wall-to-wall coverage of a certain M. Jackson's death. So, you know, I wouldn't use their level of attention to a problem as any indication of the importance of that problem.
posted by mediareport at 5:49 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


why aren't more people doing significant, in-depth reporting?

I don't have a citation handy, but I think Iran has banned western journalists and is doing its best to black out any media reporting that strays from the official state story.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:56 PM on January 1, 2010


The Economist has done quite a bit of coverage on it, including the cover storyabout the election controversy.
posted by dealing away at 6:16 PM on January 1, 2010


why aren't more people doing significant, in-depth reporting?

They don't want to get behind rebels they aren't sure are going to win yet. I mean that. The editors don't want to invest in.

Hands down, the best place for coverage is Al Jazeera English. They are seriously good on middle east and muslim stuff. Definitely a professional operation. The slant is there, but expected. Compared to Fox, who distorts much more.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:17 PM on January 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yes I was following Sullivan initially on this, but since everything else he says is hysterical and overwrought that I can't ever be sure he's not distorting things. Had not thought of Al Jazeera English, Ironmouth, that seems like a no-duh.
posted by emjaybee at 6:30 PM on January 1, 2010


Incidentally, it's the 31st, not the 21st anniversary.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 6:49 PM on January 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


ech, I can't do math. Thanks, BIAB - you're right.
posted by koeselitz at 6:54 PM on January 1, 2010


My fear is how Iran's drive to get nukes plays out in this situation. What happens to the dissent movement if Israel and/or U.S. prevents Iran from getting gasoline, or bombs Iran, for that matter?
posted by angrycat at 7:01 PM on January 1, 2010


good coverage from

http://www.thememriblog.org/iran

MEMRI has been accused (wrongly) of being out of Israel and thus not objective. But what they do is present materials , translated, from sources within the area they are discussing (in this site, Iran)...no one has yet shown that their translations and renditions of what they present have been altered from what was there in the original.

A good source because though Economist does nice work, they come out once a week and have insufficient space for in depth looks at a volatile changing situation.
Sullivan can but bring to attention what he finds here and there from others but he himself has no first-had access to the situation
this is a recent video from Iran


posted by Postroad at 7:02 PM on January 1, 2010


.

This may be the most important dynamic of the decade, if not the century. A regional power aspiring toward nuclear weapons, immensely hostile to a close ally of the only global superpower, is approaching a certain measure of liberalization. A U.S.-friendly Iran could provide a lot of support in stabilizing the Middle East and Central Asia. A U.S.-hostile Iran could lead to a world war.

The situation both scares me to death and gives me great hope. Godspeed to the reformers.
posted by jock@law at 7:21 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


What happens to the dissent movement if Israel and/or U.S. prevents Iran from getting gasoline, or bombs Iran, for that matter?

Unlike the neocons, the Obama Administration is taking a more pragmatic view of the Iranian nuclear situation and human rights abuses.

A noticeable shift has occurred in Washington’s plans for Iran sanctions in the new year. The White House has told leading lawmakers that the Administration does not support untargeted sanctions legislation aimed broadly at the Iranian economy that would punish innocent Iranians. Senior US officials have told journalists that they prefer more targeted measures over so-called “crippling” sanctions because of the desire not to have the Iranian people blame the United States for their isolation. “We have to be deft at this, because it matters how the Iranian people interpret their isolation — whether they fault the regime or are fooled into thinking we are to blame,” stated a senior official. — NIAC
posted by netbros at 7:34 PM on January 1, 2010


I don't think the middle east needs democratic theocracy. So maybe you cannot squeeze high minded enlightenment ideals past the theocrats like we did in the west. But that's no reason to adopt systems that'll dissolve all their own liberal tendencies exceedingly quickly. Iran is already facing this shit when they are only 25 years old.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:52 PM on January 1, 2010


There's also been coverage from Slate, which has dispatches from someone they're claiming is on the ground in Iran. The article from December 28th talks about Ashura and the protests.
posted by librarylis at 7:54 PM on January 1, 2010


its gone silent on facebook - no new years day pix, wishes or parties from normally gregarious international school classmates who have pulled their photos, here's a link from the community watching from the outside, the youtube video has been warned as "offensive content"
posted by infini at 8:09 PM on January 1, 2010


its gone silent on facebook - no new years day pix, wishes or parties from normally gregarious international school classmates who have pulled their photos, here's a link from the community watching from the outside, the youtube video has been warned as "offensive content"

That video is flagged. Wonder if the Iranian secret police did that.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:13 PM on January 1, 2010


you can still see it on fb though but I thought long and hard about posting that link
posted by infini at 8:29 PM on January 1, 2010


Newsfilter done right. Well played, sir.
posted by killdevil at 8:48 PM on January 1, 2010


You can still see it but it says someone flagged it and warned me. Not sure why.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:10 PM on January 1, 2010


I enjoyed and cringed at the coverage of these events from the Globe and Mail here, a few days ago.
posted by localhuman at 9:17 PM on January 1, 2010


Let us not forget that right now, somewhere inside one of the regime's prisons sits a fellow MeFite. We have not forgotten you, hoder.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:22 PM on January 1, 2010 [17 favorites]


I suspect it's flagged as offensive because it shows someone getting run over by a truck.
posted by speedo at 9:24 PM on January 1, 2010


A U.S.-friendly Iran could provide a lot of support in stabilizing the Middle East and Central Asia. A U.S.-hostile Iran could lead to a world war.

I'd be perfectly happy with a US-meh Iran.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:25 PM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can any network/routing techies out there speak as to the likelihood of success of The Haystack Project? It sounds kind of like TOR nodes, only not. If it actually works in the way it's claimed that it works, it could give the Iranian protesters a big boost...if the regime doesn't completely shut off the country's Internet access, that is.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:45 PM on January 1, 2010


This video is pretty intense
posted by criticalbill at 2:56 AM on January 2, 2010


criticalbill: you were trying to link to this, right? Intense is the word, I think - wow.
posted by koeselitz at 3:18 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]



posted by Postroad at 5:18 AM on January 2, 2010


Unlike the neocons, the Obama Administration is taking a more pragmatic view of the Iranian nuclear situation and human rights abuses.

This is nonsense on stilts. It's like saying that the Bush Administration was "taking a more pragmatic view" of genocide in Darfur.

Seriously, what could be less pragmatic than imposing deadlines with threats of severe sanctions, getting our noses smacked by Iran when the deadlines arrive, and then making pretend that the tough talk never happened? I'm not keeping close track, but in the last three months alone, there was a September 15, 2009 deadline "to respond positively to his offer of negotiations, or face a heightening of sanctions." After Iran ignored that deadline, the Obama Administration decided to tell Iran during the last week of September "that the nation must open a newly revealed nuclear enrichment site to international inspectors 'within weeks.'" Iran ignored both deadlines.

On top of that, for months, the Obama Administration has warned, over and over again, that "Iran has until the end of this year to show progress in engaging with the West to limit its nuclear ambitions, before the United States will seek new sanctions." Last week, Robert Gibbs emphasized that this deadline was "a very real deadline." Maybe something has been worked out under the media's radar, but I get the sense that Iran has blown off this most recent deadline, too. That's the sense I get when I read about Ahmadinejad calling the deadline insignificant and not serious, at least.

At the same time, the government in Iran is suppressing popular demonstrations, we are watching young girls get shot to death in the streets on youtube, and three Americans are being detained for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, apparently.

My guess is that the President will extract some concession from Iran in the next couple of months. Some promise to "cooperate fully with the international community" or to "respect international law regarding the proliferation of nuclear arms." Then he can declare victory and try to reserve some credibility for next time. Iran will, of course, go about its business like there was no agreement or concession. Ahmadinejad will probably blog disdainfully about it, but we all ignore him because he's crazy. Lord only knows what Israel will do, though.

I don't know what the answer is. Maybe there will be a super-duper surprise twist ending to this story where somehow the rave-and-cave serial deadlines turned out to be the answer. Even if there is some method to this idea of yelling at Iran and threatening them and then doing nothing after they ignore us, it's really a stretch to call that a "pragmatic" strategy. Assuming it is a strategy at all, that seems pretty unconventional and less than pragmatic to me.
posted by Slap Factory at 8:40 AM on January 2, 2010


oops, cheers koeselitz
posted by criticalbill at 9:13 AM on January 2, 2010




Lord only knows what Israel will do, though.

There is no way any air strike will ever be effective--except that it will end the Green Revolution.

And an airstrike using 'tactical' nuclear weapons will be madness--Hello, World War III, Goodbye World.

I think that everyone who has war gamed this out, including Israel, realizes that there is no way to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear capable. There is no amount of pressure that can be brought. If they forswear nuclear weapons, ala South Africa, they will do so only if the Middle East including Israel is de-nuclearized.

And, for a lot of people, a nuclear Iran is a lot less scary than what we already have: a nuclear Pakistan.
posted by y2karl at 10:16 AM on January 2, 2010


I think that everyone who has war gamed this out, including Israel, realizes that there is no way to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear capable. There is no amount of pressure that can be brought. If they forswear nuclear weapons, ala South Africa, they will do so only if the Middle East including Israel is de-nuclearized.

Maybe so, but that still doesn't make the Israeli response any more predictable. Israel could (with some justification) perceive that their only diplomatic leverage results from the possibility that they will use military force, and they may have a better appreciation than the Obama administration that leverage based on a threat like that is only effective if the threat is credible.

In all events, this is just further to my point about the un-pragmatic administration response. If everyone does realize that a nuclear Iran is now an inevitability, then enough with the empty threats already. We're not accomplishing anything except appearing weak, and we are pissing everyone off.
posted by Slap Factory at 10:40 AM on January 2, 2010


The US appearing weak and pissing everyone off is nothing particularly new. Sorry.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:13 AM on January 2, 2010


By the way, if anyone thinks that a Green Revolution means a non-nuclear Iran, think again. Neither Moussavi nor Karroubi are against Iran going nuclear. The Iranian people are pro-nuclear as well.

People keep imagining that a democratic Middle East will be a Middle East friendly to Israel. But think again--the crotch bomber story is big news here but a non-story in the Middle East. The blockade of Gaza is story number one there but nothing here.

The sad fact is that to get to Middle East peace will likely require a civil war on both sides. One is already under way, with Hamas winning so far. To get to a solution, one or two states, means another one within Israel. Israel will be lucky to get a decade long truce from Hamas--that creature of its own devising. Now it is trapped. The war over the settlements may tear the country apart. It painted itself into that corner with the first settlement and that corner shrinks with every additional unit.

And a viable non-violent intifada is an even more frightening prospect than a violent one. If there were a Palestinian Mandela, the first thing any Israel government would likely do is attempt to assassinate him. Or so it would seem, judging from the prescience shown so far.
posted by y2karl at 12:25 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps you should say "a Palestinian Dr. King" or "a Palestinian Gandhi" instead -- Mandela, after all, led bombing and sabotage campaigns and enabled paramilitary training for his group. /nitpick
posted by Asparagirl at 12:30 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I gave that some thought but decided that, given the history, a Palestinian Mandela seems more likely than a Palestinian Dr. King or Palestinian Ghandi. The end result is what counts: He was about truth and reconciliation when he was president--not genocidal revenge.
posted by y2karl at 12:48 PM on January 2, 2010


By the way, if anyone thinks that a Green Revolution means a non-nuclear Iran, think again. Neither Moussavi nor Karroubi are against Iran going nuclear. The Iranian people are pro-nuclear as well.

People, Pakistan has nukes, now, today, and by that I mean bombs with delivery capabilities. PAKISTAN! This hotbed of much more radical Islam than Iran ever has been or will be is undergoing destabilization as we type. If you want to worry about nukes, start there. Iran just wants to be part of the cool kids, and all the cool kids have nukes, no?

Everyone needs to disarm. Now.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:23 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


netbros: “Unlike the neocons, the Obama Administration is taking a more pragmatic view of the Iranian nuclear situation and human rights abuses.”

Slap Factory: “This is nonsense on stilts. It's like saying that the Bush Administration was "taking a more pragmatic view" of genocide in Darfur. Seriously, what could be less pragmatic than imposing deadlines with threats of severe sanctions, getting our noses smacked by Iran when the deadlines arrive, and then making pretend that the tough talk never happened?”

This is not intended as an insult, but you're thinking about this like Ronald Reagan did, and that's a mistake we can't afford to keep making. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the only pragmatic course of action is the one we happen to be on (intentionally or not) - a course of carefully worded threats that might end up being empty but at least convey our position strongly. Especially at this moment.

Think about this for a moment: last time, we failed to see it when Iran was on the cusp of revolution, and as a result we lost a generation of diplomacy there. This time, it's clear that we're closer to revolution (or at least large-scale reform) than we've been since that time. So the calculation you're basing this on - whether we're seen as a credible threat, and whether we actually punish when we've promised to punish - is at most the third or fourth concern we should have in mind in orienting our foreign policy toward Iran. We really have no choice but to be a passive but distant voice of concern.

Consider: what if the US imposed sanctions, no matter what the level of targetedness or precision of those sanctions? Then Khatami and Ahmadinejad have exactly what they want: a real, credible outside threat from the one foe who has always managed to unite the Iranian people - the United States. The Green Movement withers in the face of popular outrage against the US. The harsher our sanctions or even military action, the swifter the death of the Green Movement.

But then, consider: what if the US takes a bold stance on the current turmoil, making an announcement to the world that the current government's crackdowns must not be allowed to stand, and calling for justice and acceptance of the Green Movement? This, in my mind, is the greatest danger. It's an American politician's wet dream: a chance to name-check an apparently equitable revolution happening in an Islamic country, and to appear decent, upright, and good for the cameras. This kind of press conference would play very, very well in the United States. Except it would be disastrous - being associated with the US, the Green Movement would be vastly discredited, and I'm sure the secret police wouldn't take 24 hours to 'discover' evidence that Mousavi had been in 'secret communication' with the Americans. Not that this would be believable - Mousavi, while more practical than Khatami and Ahmadinejad, hates the US. One thing Iprobably should have mentioned in this post is this: in his latest statement, Mousavi at one point mocked Ahmadinejad's two-faced congratulations to Barack Obama for having won the election, saying: "We have not sent congratulatory cards to foreign leaders." So, while it might not destroy Mousavi's reputation, injecting our support into the movement would certainly distract it from its goals long enough to render it all but powerless.

Ironically, it's apparent that the best thing we could do to help the Iranian people right now would be to be openly conciliatory and friendly toward Khatami and Ahmadinejad and the rest of the current regime. The US has always had the touch of illegitimacy required to drive Iranians to throw the bastards out. Of course, that's what we did last time, and we can all see how well that worked out.

Really, I think the path we're following is the best one. I don't say that Obama has some grand plan that will work out great, and I don't think he does; but what I'm hoping is that he has people there telling him: "look - don't touch this. Just let it be. Keep doing what you're doing, and don't stir up shit, because the only way we can help is by not being involved."

“My guess is that the President will extract some concession from Iran in the next couple of months. Some promise to "cooperate fully with the international community" or to "respect international law regarding the proliferation of nuclear arms." Then he can declare victory and try to reserve some credibility for next time. Iran will, of course, go about its business like there was no agreement or concession. Ahmadinejad will probably blog disdainfully about it, but we all ignore him because he's crazy. Lord only knows what Israel will do, though.”

The trouble is that 'declaring victory,' while it might have been a political possibility ten or even five years ago, just doesn't make sense any more for a politician; there's too much buzz, and people have the ability to notice more what's actually going on. And the further difficulty is that it's exceedingly unlikely - indeed, next to impossible - that an American president could "extract concessions" from Iranian leadership now. Everybody on the ground in Iran hates the US; and in a time when it's trying desperately to hold on to credibility and stability, do you think the current leadership in Iran would open itself to widespread ridicule by making concessions to the US? If it hasn't already been whispered in the streets, then it soon will be: "this government is repeating the mistakes of the Shah!" Making concessions to the US only plays into that image.

But actually, if Obama could pull off that trick of making them concede things, it might be a very good plan, as it would discredit the current leadership without requiring us act as that leadership's ally. I just don't think Khatami is that stupid.

“I don't know what the answer is. Maybe there will be a super-duper surprise twist ending to this story where somehow the rave-and-cave serial deadlines turned out to be the answer. Even if there is some method to this idea of yelling at Iran and threatening them and then doing nothing after they ignore us, it's really a stretch to call that a "pragmatic" strategy. Assuming it is a strategy at all, that seems pretty unconventional and less than pragmatic to me.”

Well, I agree that the solution to all this is hard to find, but in the immediate future it's not so very difficult. If I had the ear of the president, this would be my advice: wait, wait, wait, on any real decisive action; don't be the catalyst that destroys the Green revolution before it starts. In the situation as it is now, we're hostile to the current leadership, so if new leadership takes charge, we can respectably try to become their allies (as difficult as that may be.) Unfortunately, knowing the shifting nature of world events, this movement might well be crushed by the current regime; I don't like to think it, but we have to be prepared for that possibility. If that happens, our approach is obvious: at the moment that it becomes clear that the Greens will fail, begin sanctioning Iran heavily, and make good on our threats.
posted by koeselitz at 3:03 PM on January 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


People, Pakistan has nukes, now, today, and by that I mean bombs with delivery capabilities. PAKISTAN!

If you had read a wee bit more thoroughly, you might have noticed that I previously made a similar remark HERE! And with much less melodrama, at that.
posted by y2karl at 4:09 PM on January 2, 2010


from the one foe who has always managed to unite the Iranian people - the United States

You know, I'll bet dollars to falafels that the average Iranian citizen doesn't give a shit about the USA, and the average American doesn't really give a shit about Iran. There's a vocal hateful minority in both countries — mad mullahs, batshit evangels, and the perpetually violent-minded — that has a mad hate-on for one another.

Peace would be a lot easier if all y'all shut down your extremist wingnuts and haters.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 PM on January 2, 2010


five fresh fish: “Peace would be a lot easier if all y'all shut down your extremist wingnuts and haters.”

True; but certainly Iranians have more reasons to hate the US than Americans have to hate Iran. Iran is nothing to most of us Americans - whereas the United States most notably looked the other way and in fact supported Iraq while many innocent Iranians died at their hands. And that's just the most egregious example - the hostage crisis, too, was terribly bungled by the US. I think we just have to accept that our past mistakes aren't going away. At the right time, maybe we can try to put them behind us. Right now, I don't think we can make them an issue.
posted by koeselitz at 9:52 PM on January 2, 2010


wasn't it Obama who wanted to nuke Pakistan during his campaign?

i just worry about the effects of the fallout on Pushkar's camels
posted by infini at 9:54 PM on January 2, 2010


[few comments removed - metatalk is an option for the same old disputes.]
posted by jessamyn at 11:58 AM on January 3, 2010


The latest wave of protests won't be the last. Iran scholar Hamid Dabashi on a civil-rights movement centuries in the making—led by a generation that knows how to fight with brains.

"This generation breaks all the rules. If you want to understand what is happening in the Green Movement, listen to the thunderous and defiant lyrics of the greatest Iranian rapper alive: Shahin Najafi. Look him up! Google him. He has two Facebook pages. If Iranian cinema of the 1990s was the vision and vista of Khatami’s Reform Movement, Shahin Najafi’s lyrics and music are the elegiac voice and loving fury of the Green Movement."

"... not everything round is a walnut."
posted by netbros at 12:56 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


…certainly Iranians have more reasons to hate the US than Americans have to hate Iran

Certainly the wingnut Iranians do. But your average man-in-the-street Iranian? From what I've seen on the web and social media, the average Iranian would just like the violence to stop.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:34 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mohsen Makhmalbaf, internationally renowned filmmaker and the Iranian opposition's main spokesman abroad since the disputed presidential election, posted an article entitled 'The secrets of Khamenei's life,' on his web site. Makhmalbaf has been living in exile in Paris. The original article is in Farsi. This is an English translation.
posted by netbros at 4:22 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you had read a wee bit more thoroughly, you might have noticed that I previously made a similar remark HERE! And with much less melodrama, at that.

Yes, that is the point I was trying to emphasize. So many hyperventilate about Iran and nukes, which is a little like worrying about the leaking garbage disposal in your kitchen while the Red River overflows its banks just outside the door.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:45 AM on January 4, 2010


There's little point in hyperventilating about Iran having nukes, when Florida is allowed to have a nuclear power plant. Holy crap, but the links about idiocy and misdeeds at that plant are endless!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Iranian insider predicts regime change. A leading figure in Iran's opposition movement says it is time to separate religion and politics.

Mohammad Reza Madhi, a former intelligence chief for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Corps, “predicted the end of the Iranian regime,” saying it is time for a split between religion and state. Madhi was one of the Supreme Leader’s closest advisers for nearly 20 years, until 2008 when he fled Iran from death threats and a 73 year jail sentence. (via)
posted by netbros at 2:35 PM on January 4, 2010


The article I linked just above may end up being a hoax.

"A dose of skepticism may be in order. It's worth remembering that Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi conned an awful lot of the Western press and public to believe some phony Iraqi National Congress "defector" Adnan Ihsan al-Haideri, whom he made available "exclusively" to gullible journalists in Bangkok before the Iraq invasion, with bogus tales designed to appeal to the Western policy narrative. And it's worth remembering such moments are fraught with the risk of exploitation by opportunists of various stripes who have an agenda they would seek to impose, including on those inside of Iran actually risking their lives, without outside support, interference or taint."Laura Rosen
posted by netbros at 7:00 PM on January 4, 2010


Anyone who has done even a cursory search for information about Iran learns that there's a solid middle-class people there that by all appearances are just like us. They go to work, they earn a paycheque, doing perfectly ordinary office work and maintenance work and construction work and all the other perfectly ordinary middle-class jobs, they go home to a loving family, they eat perfectly normal sorts of meals on the whole, watch pop culture crap on television and movies, listen to rap music and other commercialized pop crap, and go to bed.

There's a wild countryside with the typical tribal-era customs and depravities, but surely it's obvious that most of Iran want to have a peaceful, fair-voting democracy. I simply can't understand why anyone thinks it would be necessary to go to war against them. The citizens themselves are getting close to solving the problem for us, and with that comes the advantage that they won't hate us afterward.

I don't think the Iranians are any more nutso than the Russians or the Pakistanis or French are. Let alone the bugfuck insane countries that have actually used nukes! War isn't what's needed: sanctions, rule of international law, and such-like are what we need.

Let the citizens/help the citizens win their country back from the power structure they are fighting. It's the only thing that's going to work in the long run.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:56 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a wild countryside with the typical tribal-era customs and depravities, but surely it's obvious that most of Iran want to have a peaceful, fair-voting democracy.

That's, perhaps, one of the most difficult things about Iran: the disparity in culture between big cities like Tehran and Masshad, on the one hand, and the rural countryside, on the other. It is in some ways analogous to our red-state/blue-state dynamics, in that the worldviews drive the politics and the less educated, more impoverished are exploited by one side for political gain.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:44 AM on January 5, 2010


It's the future of America if we don't pull power back from the religionuts. The Texas textbook thing, for instance, is the kind of idiocy that will create "the worldviews drive the politics and the less educated, more impoverished are exploited by one side for political gain."
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 AM on January 5, 2010


The Big Picture: Three days in Iran
posted by homunculus at 11:48 AM on January 5, 2010


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