News on the unfolding revolution in Iran

[Accidentally hit publish before I was done.]

I’ve been following events closely all week, and although I have no deep insight or analysis on the situation, I thought I would share my list of recommended sources for breaking news, in order of importance.

Tehran Bureau: An Iranian-American cultural magazine that has been providing some of the best analysis of and historical context for ongoing events. Also see their Twitter feed, updated almost minutely with quotes being forwarded from inside Iran. As I write this, they have just updated

from trusted FB source: Mousavi is reported to be speaking to protesters on Jeyhoon street. He said a few minutes ago:

I am prepared for martyrdom, Shame on you and your tricks the coup government. end quote

Here is their latest full dispatch.

Andrew Sullivan’s blog: Andrew has been following this story closely since it began in earnest a week ago, and is working all day long to make his site a constantly updated stream of links to and quotes of every single breaking development and rumor. Although Iran is not remotely his field of expertise and he has little deep commentary to add, his blog is currently the best centralized location for links related to the ongoing story.

NYT “The Lede” blog: The NYT breaking news blog has been doing much the same thing as Andrew Sullivan, but with a slightly more conservative journalistic approach to posting entirely unverifiable details, and with slightly more analysis.

Iran The name says it all. I believe this site has historically been focused more on watching Iran with a suspicious eye, as a possible military threat, but they seem to be doing a good job right now providing much-needed statistical analysis.

Juan Cole’s Informed Consent: A well known Middle East scholar’s ongoing commentary. This one, a blog devoted to statistical analysis of US politics, might be a surprising addition to the list, but in fact Nate Silver has been using his analytic tools to examine the potential validity of fraud claims re: the Iranian election and is well worth a read.

And finally, I urge everyone to read the graphic novel Persepolis, or watch the animated adaptation thereof.

From what I have seen, the legal constitutional basis of The Islamic Republic of Iran is now, as of last week , neither Islamic nor Republican. I truly hope the protesters succeed in what is increasingly looking like a true popular revolution, or perhaps the second stage of the 1979 revolution.

These popular uprisings, even if they succeed in the short term, often still end poorly. It’s worth remembering “EDSA 2”, the popular uprising in The Philippines which overthrew corrupt president Joseph Estrada, putting Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in charge. Well, President Arroyo is now widely regarded as worse than Ferdinand Marcos, responsible for unspeakable amounts of graft, and the extrajudicial killings of an unknown number of journalists and activists. In a sense, this is similar to the aftermath of the original 1979 Iranian Revolution, which began as a wide-ranging popular movement including Islamists, Socialists alike, to overthrow the Shah, but which was soon diverted in a heavily theocratic direction.

Based on the little I know of Mousavi’s pas, though, I hope he will be better. Many have said that Mousavi is “not a true reformer” or “not really that different from Ahmadinejad in policy terms” but I can’t help but believe that if he somehow manages to coast into power on this level of popular support he will find himself far more of a reformer than he imagined. Of course, if the uprising fails, they will kill him.

5 thoughts on “News on the unfolding revolution in Iran”

  1. I know the Bush affiliated neo-cons wanted to go to war with Iran, but these are the same people now hoping the state succeeds in crushing the opposition so that they push again for war in the future. The fact is that an opposition/Mousavi victory would be bad for the imperialist faction in the US, at it removed their primary justification for striking against Iran. Can you explain the connection between fact that the US wanted to, or even did (which is unconfirmed) have black ops going on in Iran a couple of years ago with the current situation?

  2. I think that’s a misreading of the neo-con position. They may be fanatical monsters, but they’re not slaves to the idea of war at all costs. There are other ways to accomplish their ends and they’re not above doing things on the cheap (buying a coup d’etat). I’m sure they’d rather accomplish this in a way that made it easier to enrich the military-industrial complex, but the unprecedented giveaway to the financial industry makes that a non-starter at the moment. Not even neo-cons are dumb enough to think that a full fledged war against Iran would be quick and easy. Despite the transparent PR to the contrary (Mousavi as Ghandi? Seriously?) Mousavi is not really a reformer. He’s a neo-liberal whose candidacy is sponsored by the richest man in Iran, Ayatollah Rafsanjani. This is a struggle between factions of the theocracy, in which the US has sided with a man who they’ve found extremely cooperative in the past (look into his role in the Iran/Contra affair during his previous term in office). So I think it’s a mistake to suppose that removing the justification for war means the neo-cons aren’t getting what they want. This IS the strike against Iran. One doesn’t have to support Ahmadinejad to see that this is not a truly popular movement and that it isn’t good for Iran, whatever the outcome.

  3. Thank you for explaining your thoughts in more detail. Allow me to respond in kind. While I don’t fully agree with your argument, I will admit that it is at least a possible scenario.

    I will also admit that not all neocons are so bloodthirsty as I implied above, but there is certainly such a faction. I also believe, based on my admittedly limited knowledge of Iranian politics, that Mousavi is not a radical reformer and is heavily linked to Rafsanjani, who is widely suspected of corruption and personal greed. I even admitted this possibility in my original post, where I mentioned the example of the post EDSA-2 Philippines as an example of a popular revolt being hijacked by a new leader who turns out to be no better (if not worse) than the old one.

    “This IS the strike against Iran. One doesn’t have to support Ahmadinejad to see that this is not a truly popular movement and that it isn’t good for Iran, whatever the outcome.”

    Now here is where I disagree more. I think that while Mousavi’s original candidacy may have been something more along the lines of what you implied, he is NOT the leader of the current uprising, and it is in fact very much a popular and spontaneous revolt. Of course, the origin of the revolt is inextricably linked to Mousavi’s presidential campaign, and the way in which he was so obviously cheated provided the spark for mass protest, but it has already grown well beyond him. Yes, if the protests succeed then he will very likely be the next president (with backing from Rafsanjani, as you pointed out), but I suspect, perhaps somewhat idealistically, that as a president swept into office as the result of a massive populist uprising he will be in a very different position to enact reforms than if he had merely won a theocrat-sponsored election. There will be expectations from the masses, and he will himself be shaped by the experience. Will this necessarily make him a better president, and make the Iranian state a freer and more democratic one than it is today? Of course there are no guarantees, but of all the realistic outcomes that lay before the Iranians as of this moment, I believe this is the most hopeful.

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