In a world when technology allows information to spread as a global wildfire and when our attentions are turned to the TinyURL, it becomes easy to miss the macro politics that may be playing out within a given political situation.
Among the calls for reform in Iran, there is great opposition and dissent amongst the reformists themselves. We need to be cautious when we are told to believe it is a case of black and white, without shades of grey, a case of Ahmadinejad vs Mousavi.
The dominant force in the opposition is the one that wishes to bring reforms to the ruling regime in Iran for the purpose of strengthening and sustaining this very regime. This is the movement that has been — and may still be — led by Rafsanjani and Khatemi, two past presidents who remain among the strongest pillars of the Iranian regime. To argue that this began as the platform for a ‘revolution’ is as sound as arguing that I am a brunette and therefore need a nap, thank you and good night.
The brutally violent response to the demonstrators may prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and which takes us into the beginnings of a full-blown revolution, one focused on doing away with Ahmadinejad, but not necessarily the regime itself. Some astute observers have noted that what’s happening is more like a civil rights movement than a pre-revolutionary situation.
What is not up for discussion here is whether Iran needs a revolution, as this is a call not to be made by you or I, but rather only by the citizenry of the country itself. Also not up for discussion is that we must always stand in solidarity with brutalized demonstrators of any country (regardless if they are representative of the minority or majority).
Slowly surfacing is that there are many other groups participating in these opposition rallies (both inside and outside of Iran), who do not share the same objectives as the dominant forces in the opposition. In many instances, the variances are quite large and range from a complete reformation yet protection of the existing political system, to the fantastical demand of the return of the Shah, to the hope of overthrowing the entire regime, to the simple demand of replacing one leader by another, to completely shedding the veil of a theocracy etc., ad infinitum.
Should the current political situation become the foundation of an actual revolution, then the possible absence of cohesion among the reformists may cause chaos, instability and great civil unrest within Iran for years to come. Chaos, instability and great civil unrest are not the intent of the reformist movement; anyone who would argue that does indeed require a snooze.
For the love of conspiracy
Some might consider it a conspiracy theory the claim that many of the alleged Twitter feeds from Iran were in fact all opened on the same day and from inside of the State of Israel, the argument being that the Mossad has been partly responsible for fanning the flames that may lead to the instability of Iran. If this is in fact true, then there are two main possible explanations for this interference: (1) this is being done in order to divert attention away from Israel’s criminal actions and oppression of the Palestinian people, of which we saw even more horrible images than what we are currently witnessing in Iran; and/or (2) The destabilization of Iran, and the subsequent possibly immediate affects on Syria and Lebanon. [Editor’s note: The link to images has been changed, as the earlier image was incorrectly dated.]
Some might consider it a conspiracy theory the claim that the misrepresentation of that which is being hailed as a ‘revolution,’ does in fact serve, to the greatest interest, the political machinations of the American neo-conservative movement. But before calling it a conspiracy theory, consider the reality that as I type, the pressure on Obama — from the conservative right — to render null his campaign promise to engage in a dialogue with Iran persists, increases and may soon become the rallying call of well-meaning everyday folk. Our cries for ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ in Iran are the same rhetoric utilized by the American right power elite when they demand that Obama “stand for democracy” and “be on the right side of history” taking a stronger stand against Iran.
Stronger stand, how? Tossing a missile or two at ‘targeted’ regime-only locations (no civilians will die, we promise) within Iran, free Iran? (we heart Google Earth); advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East begins with ensuring the success of a free Iran?
My apologies, there. Forgive that minor lapse of memory and the fact that I have just misquoted; it appears I am in fact brunette and therefore require a nap. Because actually, the transcript of the speech reads “advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East begins with ensuring the success of a free Iraq”.
Conspiracy theory indeed. As conspiratorial as the idea of war-for-profit; as conspiratorial as the idea that torture is institutionalized behavior within the US military; and as conspiratorial as the notion that America’s is a rogue state.
The Empire always conspires, and no less so when people are taking to the streets with great courage to express legitimate grievances. But this doesn’t mean those of us opposed to the machinations of the U.S and Israeli right should be silent.
We can support the call for civil liberties and civil rights in Iran: the right to organize, to assemble, dissent, and to vote for whomever they choose. And, yes, even the right to tweet, so long as we remain vigilant about the macro geo politics as well.
Maha Zimmo is a political analyst whose areas of concentration are the Middle East, Islam and the international legal system. She received her Master of Arts from the Department of Law at Carleton University.
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