The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Iran's defunct reform movement

I'd posted this at Ace's comment board, but it bears clarification here.

I'd recently read We Are Iran by Nasrin Alavi, a collection of essays on Iranian life and recent history as seen through the eyes of Farsi blogs from 2002 to mid 2005.

Back in mid 2005, average city-dwelling Iranians were apathetic (only about 15% of the population voted) but were happy to see someone run on an anti-corruption message. So when the populist Ahmadi Nejad, Mayor of Tehran, ran for office against mysteriously-wealthy politicians like Rafsanjani, Ahmadi Nejad won. If Ahmadi Nejad had said nutty things as Mayor, no-one noticed; at any rate people have to say whatever in public life when public life is so proscribed. It was only when it was too late that it turned out that Ahmadi Nejad was willing to say the same nutty things in power that he said when he wasn't.

The impression I'm getting from Alavi's book, and from what I've seen elsewhere and since, is that the "reform" movement consisted of an alliance between ethicist and secularist factions. The former faction was the popular one and the latter faction supplied the organisational skills for demonstrations and such (college kids, mostly). The clerical faction meanwhile consisted of an alliance between true believers and cynical criminals.

As late as early last year, the kooks and crooks were stuck together and the secular / reformists looked to be winning against them.

Now, thanks to "I'm a Mahdi Nutjob", it looks like there's been a realignment. The true-believing clerical faction has co-opted the anti-corruption faction. What Ahmadi Nejad is planning next seems clear enough. He's going to hound the secularists out of existence. He'll also make an example of a few of those crooks who remain insufficiently loyal to him. The other crooks (including, I submit, the worst ones) will hide, to show themselves again when the internal jihad (mihna?) is complete.

Anyway, this is why Iranians like Farouz Farzami have committed actual treason against Iran's legal government; demanding that Western powers intervene in Iran, up to and including invasion. She is telling us the obvious:

Iran's reformers are losing. That is, they've lost all the major battles and now they're exposed to their enemies.

Those Iranians who would make Iran a peaceful and secular member of the family of nations are telling us that they no longer have the power to make it so. They are less united, smaller, and - now - less popular than are the craziest of their clerics.

posted by Zimri on 17:47 | link | 0 comments

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