Iran battle lines 101

Quick items for keeping up with the ongoing legitimacy crisis within Iran:
1. Excellent IPS review by Farideh Farhi of the fault lines in Iran, as revealed in Rafsanjani’s Friday Prayers speech and blistering reactions.

It is now clear that the Islamic Republic’s ever-present political frictions and cleavages can no longer be managed in ways they have been in the past, either through behind-the-scenes lobbying at the top or selective repression or some combination of the two….
Adding to the drama was the immediate appearance on Rafsanjani’s personal website of a headline in which he recalled the early years of the revolution. “The term fear has no meaning for us,” it said. “For every generation, there is a test. Issues related to society and people are the most important tests.”

Note especially Farhi’s emphasis on the eclectic and yet unified nature of the opposition movement. Echoes of 1979.
2. Further quotes and analysis by Muhammad Sahimi of critiques from Leader Khamenei and reformist rebuttals.
For the Leader, it seems “the real people… those with real intellect…. think about and follow God….” the riotous corrupt by contrast are castigated as slaves to the foreign body. For Musavi,

“Many of the prisoners are well-known and have served the political system and the country for years. Who is going to believe that they colluded with foreigners to sell out the country’s national interests? Is this not an insult against the nation?”

3. Call by ex President Khatami for a “referendum” as the only way to resolve the crisis:

“I would like to add a point here and declare explicitly that, the only way out of the present crisis is relying on people’s vote and holding a referendum.”

4. Ayatollah watch: Sahimi’s run-down this morning of hotly contradictory clerical statements regarding the recent elections. Contrary to an absurd commentary put out by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy earlier this month, Iran’s clerical centers have neither been silent nor unified.
5. For the puzzled, I highly recommend a lively hour with my mentor, Professor R. K. Ramazani, available via podcast here. Many of the questions are basic — yet profound.

14 thoughts on “Iran battle lines 101

  1. brian

    interesting:

    The “listening post” of Dubai
    Dubai certainly is a “major Persian Gulf listening post for events in Iran”. The State Department called Dubai a “natural location” for a regional office due to its “proximity to Iran and access to an Iranian diaspora.”
    That was in a State Department cable discussing the creation of the Office of Iranian Affairs (OIA) under the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. The OIA sought to “reach out to the Iranian people” and recruit more Iran experts and Persian-speaking officers into the Foreign Service, the Intelligence and Research Bureau (INR), and other branches of the State Department.
    According to the cable, the Dubai office of the OIA would be modeled on the listening station in the Latvian capital of Riga to gather information on the Soviet Union during the 1920s.
    The Iranian media has called the OIA the “regime-change office”. A State Department official based in Dubai denied that, saying “It is not some recruiting office and is not organizing the next revolution in Iran.”’
    http://informationclearinghouse.info/article23118.htm

  2. Alex_no

    It is very difficult to know what is happening in Iran. What one might have understood has been endlessly clouded by propaganda emanating from the US, but more importantly from Israel. It turns out that most of the Twitters, which were supposed to be from the ground in Tehran, actually had their origin in Israel. No doubt JES, with his contacts in MOSSAD, will be able to prove in detail that this is not the case. If we had asked him, he would have been equally able to prove that it was the case. With all the money of MOSSAD behind you, you can prove anything you like.

  3. bb

    Terrific post. Listened to podcast and can see why you are so admiring of your mentor, Scott. He is fantastic.
    I was thinking back to Jan, 1979 when I arrived in southern Spain to live. It was the same month the Shah fled Iran, almost to the day. I followed the revolution in detail for the next year and half courtesy of Beeb world service. In the June of that year(79) was vacationing in London and stayed at this 2/3 star hotel in Fulham and was bemused to find that ALL the other tourist guests there were 20/30-something Iranian families, with children. It was jam packed. They were having a great time. This was before the Islamists had consolidated their grip on power, of course. And before the purges of the secular nationalists and communists had become public knowledge. But these young Iranaians were not mourning the Shah, that was for sure!
    At the end of that year the Revolutionary guards took over and the US hostage crisis began. As soon as I read up on the new Iranian constitution I could recall immediately from history lessions the structure of the Calvin fundamentalist govt in Geneva. Am not sure, but it could have been the very first christian version of the the “theo democracy” Professor Ramazani talks about.
    In relation to the other links: I feel the biggest danger here is that the fundamental revolutionary guards of 1979 were 20-something zealots. Now they are 50-something zealots. That is, they have reached the stage of life when men who have achieved power defend their privelege with everything at their disposal.
    These hardliner guys currently hold the security instruments of the state in an apparently iron grip. They should be invincible. But I go back to those young families in London in June of 1979. Their children, both boys and girls, well educated, are now in their mid-thirties. Like my son. The X generation. They are at the vanguard of a very powerful demographic force – the younger 20-somethings who were born as the result of Khomenei’s policies to repopulate after the losses of the Iraq/Iran war.
    They are a very formidable force the hardliners have to overcome. The prescriptions will be increasingly totalitarian because that is the only course open to them. We can see it already in the reports of the “show confessions” planned for Iranian TV?
    Their actions have already forced the “reform” or “change” movement to become an “opposition”. Now it appears to be moving to “resistence” – led by Rafsanjani and co! That feminist daughter of Rafsanjani! I wonder if she was in the Fulham hotel in June ’79.
    Truly amazing.

  4. John Francis Lee

    “I would like to add a point here and declare explicitly that, the only way out of the present crisis is relying on people’s vote and holding a referendum.”
    Referendum in Iran is what’s needed?
    How about the referendum on the SOFA in Iraq that was quashed by Obama/Maliki?
    All these arguments are disingenuous, come after the fact. The reason is but lawyer to the will.
    You pick your preferred regime and a scenario to power and all argument is nothing but justification for that a priori decision.
    Pro-referendum, anti-referendum… depends on who stands to win, lose, or be made uncomfortable by it.

  5. scott h

    by way of clarification, Khatami’s call wasn’t for referendum per se of the system, but for a referendum within Iran, monitored by a new neutral body (e.g., not the guardian council) on the people’s sense of the recent elections. (a big difference, missed by some of the media reports)
    And this is not an outsider calling for a referendum, but a former President of Iran, sitting there.
    Helena and I were both a private luncheon with Khatami at Monticello nearly 3 years ago, wherein he outlined many of his thoughts on why Islam and democracy were compatible. Even then, as I recall, he did mention that a “referendum on the system” was permissible. (just as he also contended that the office of the Leader was accountable to the people via the elected Assembly of Experts.)
    That may have sounded “theoretical” then — it’s today part of the actual debate — within Iran.

  6. scott h

    further on the intensifying battle lines withing Iran in today’s LATimes….
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iran-protest23-2009jul23,0,5977762,print.story
    two high-ranking reformist clerics declared support for the protest movement and openly challenged Khamenei’s leadership. They also gave tacit permission for government officials and clerics to boycott Ahmadinejad’s inauguration.
    “The supreme leader’s confirmation of a president born out of a rigged election could not grant him any legitimacy,” Grand Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat Zanjani said in a religious edict. “Both the supreme leader’s confirmation and the president’s swearing-in are acceptable if and only if the president is elected in a clean vote.”
    Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Dastgheib Shirazi called on other top clerics to support those protesting the election results.
    “Using firearms and crude weapons against people and incarceration of the revolutionaries will never help safeguard Islam and the establishment,” he said, according to several websites.

  7. Mossad agent

    I just want to clarify things, and Alex has been given me the opportunity to do so. First, Alex is a disgruntled ex Mossad agent who quit after being denied access to the luscious secretarial pool at Mossad HQ. In addition, he stole our portrait of the Zohan that graced our front hallway. Indeed, we do have contact with iranian revolutionaries thru our new service Titter, not to be confused with Twitter. Finally, you might wonder, where we get all of our money. A commission of the Elders of Zion formed a dummy country called Fredonia, and we contacted Georg Soros under the cover of an NGO called Freedom for Fredonia. We used fraudulent bank transfers to transfer the money to Mossad. Meanwhile, we will continue to inflame the theocracy by denying Ahmadinejad and the smelly revolutionary guard access to Tehrans hottest babes

  8. Salah

    a private luncheon with Khatami at Monticello nearly 3 years ago, wherein he outlined many of his thoughts on why Islam and democracy were compatible.
    a private luncheon with Khatami at Monticello nearly 3 years ago, wherein he outlined many of his thoughts on why Islam and democracy were compatible.
    Islam & democracy are more evident that a turbin man can tell.
    Did you asked him where is his believe in Islam and democracy when he smashed the uprising of student during his time by his own word and orders to be crashed?
    The problem not Islam as religion not democracy as practise and way of life, its the theocracy of Mullah who hiding under black robes enjoying the elite living in society that should under Islamic law all people are same, that what early Muslims lived and practised.
    The Assembly of Experts?

    The Iranian Constitution is a roadmap in which all roads lead to the Supreme Leader. He exercises control over all branches of the government and every division of the armed forces. He is appointed to the position for life, and his power is tied to age-old traditions of leadership in Shiite Islam. And yet, a single constitutional body can theoretically exercise ultimate power over the position of the Leader. That body is the Assembly of Experts, an 88-member council trusted with the responsibility to elect, and even dismiss, the Supreme Leader.

    The first Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, never needed the Assembly, having gained his position through his role in the 1979 Revolution. It was the Assembly of Experts, however, that elected Ayatollah Khamenei, the current Leader, nearly two decades ago. It was a controversial choice, as Khamenei was not yet an Ayatollah, and lacking a major qualification for the position. Since then, the Assembly has existed as a virtually inactive body,

  9. Salah

    (just as he also contended that the office of the Leader was accountable to the people via the elected Assembly of Experts.)

    Iran is not a theocracy. It is a military dictatorship headed by Khamenei and advised by a coterie of generals from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Army, as well as hard-liners in the secret police. Ahmadinejad is little more than the spokesman for this group. He may have a say in the day-to-day management of the economy and other parts of Iranian administration–but all important decisions, particularly those related to Iran’s national security, including rigging presidential elections, are made by Khamenei.

    What makes this such a tenuous situation is that Khamenei’s legitimacy has been in question from the day he succeeded Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. It was widely understood among intelligence analysts that Khamenei did not have the religious credentials to succeed Khomeini as supreme leader, Iran’s head of state who is supposed to be the most learned religious cleric. In fact, Khamenei is not even really an ayatollah–his license was in effect bought–and he has no popular religious following as other legitimate ayatollahs do. It doesn’t help that Iranian leaders of Khomeini’s generation have never particularly liked Khamenei and see him as a man who muscled his way into power, perhaps even by killing Khomeini’s son, the person most likely to challenge his rule.

    Robert Baer served in the CIA as a field operative from 1976 to 1997

  10. Salah

    Khatami at Monticello nearly 3 years ago, wherein he outlined many of his thoughts on why Islam and democracy
    Is he one of the belivers of Wilayat-e-Faqih ولايــة الفقيــه?

    Fallaci had travelled to Qum to try to secure an interview with Khomeini, and she waited ten days before he received her. She had followed instructions from the new Islamist regime, and arrived at the Ayatollah’s home barefoot and wrapped in a chador. Almost immediately, she unleashed a barrage of questions about the closing of opposition newspapers, the treatment of Iran’s Kurdish minority, and the summary executions performed by the new regime. When Khomeini defended these practices, noting that some of the people killed had been brutal servants of the Shah, Fallaci demanded, “Is it right to shoot the poor prostitute or a woman who is unfaithful to her husband, or a man who loves another man?” The Ayatollah answered with a pair of remorseless metaphors. “If your finger suffers from gangrene, what do you do? Do you let the whole hand, and then the body, become filled with gangrene, or do you cut the finger off? What brings corruption to an entire country and its people must be pulled up like the weeds that infest a field of wheat.”

  11. Domza

    Scott, meet your new boss: Mr Lieberman.
    See: http://lieberman.senate.gov/newsroom/release.cfm?id=316182
    I guess you’ll be applying for your share of the money? I don’t see how you can avoid it.
    If you don’t take the money, you’ll quickly be eclipsed out of the Iran-green-revo franchise by the ones who do take the money. You’ll be tailing them from now on.
    But if you do take the money, you will have to stay in line or be dropped. So you have to tail them, anyway.
    It’s a good old-fashioned takeover.

  12. brian

    ‘Iran is not a theocracy. It is a military dictatorship headed by Khamenei and advised by a coterie of generals from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Army, as well as hard-liners in the secret police. Ahmadinejad is little more than the spokesman for this group.’
    strange military dictatorship that has not invaded any of its neighbors…let alone countries thousands of miles away.
    The lies about iran get more and more brazen.
    Now you could describe US as a military dictatorship dressed up as a democracy, and controlled by military industrial corporations…that would be more true…/
    meanwhile this lie keeps getting posted:
    ‘particularly those related to Iran’s national security, including rigging presidential elections, are made by Khamenei’
    there was NO rigged election and no proof of any rigging..please stop trying to outdo hitler=goebbels

  13. Salah

    strange military dictatorship that has not invaded any of its neighbors…let alone countries thousands of miles away.
    “When former Iranian Parliament speaker Ali Akbar Nateq Nori said few weeks ago that Bahrain was Iran’s 14th province, he caused a firestorm of angry protests from almost all of the Arab leaders particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt.”
    http://www.alarabiya.net/views/2009/03/03/67617.html
    Iran still occupying tree island, also threatening if the case taken to The Huge?
    our outdo hitler=goebbels?

Comments are closed.