It’s Not About the Establishment

Just a quick point that I think is beginning to be lost in the coverage of the ongoing political crisis in Iran.

Basically every article keeps emphasizing the fundamental split in the Iranian clerical and political establishment.

It’s clear why– given the state of Iran and its constitutional system, that’s the best hope for change within a relatively near time frame.

But let’s not forget– this is about the Iranian people bravely demanding change.

Every headline now makes news of former President Khatami criticizing the government, Mousavi maintaining his bold leadership, or the media’s favorite, Rafsanjani publically and behind-the-scenes challenging Khamenei’s authority.

That’s all fine, and important.  But remember:

Khatami backed down when pressured by the pro-Ahmadinejad establishment and decided not to run for office (when most observers including The Economist until just before the election, predicted an easy victory for Ahmadinejad.)

Mousavi had hardly been a polemical campaigner for change.  He was a quiet, old man who had spent the last decade painting.  His leadership–admirable it is– is a product of his people’s support. 

Rafsanjani, while not a Khamenei fan, hadn’t made a move against the supreme ruler until now.

So that’s all I’m saying– don’t forget, in the popular play-by-play analysis and waiting game of these individual leaders, that the only reason they can do what they do is the stand taken by the Iranian people.

Photo from AP via BBC News.

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Comments
One Response to “It’s Not About the Establishment”
  1. foarp says:

    ” . . in the popular play-by-play analysis and waiting game of these individual leaders, that the only reason they can do what they do is the stand taken by the Iranian people.”

    This is true, but the opposite is equally true – without support within the regime these demonstrations would have fizzled out on day one for lack of official support, or been brutally crushed thereafter. What’s more, whatever settlement finally comes out of this will be struck between the reformists and hardliners within the Iranian government – none of the people excluded before the election will have a say-in. It is still just as likely that the hardliners will be able to build up enough support to finally smash the opposition – particularly if the army or the republican guard decide to intervene on their side. Also quite likely is that the opposition will slowly lose support due to the chaos that will necessarily attend any long-term protest movement.

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