Monday, July 13, 2009

The Islamic Republic of Iran: Recent Elections & National Uprisings

Take into account the transnational proxies, the cross-regional non-state actors, and the veiled threats against Iran — the complexity of recent protests in Tehran gain even more enormity when one considers just what these uprisings necessitate.

In recent weeks, photographs have crossed the world of Iranians, young and old, male and female, who have protested against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s corruption. Such acts do not exactly connote that they are fed up with religion. The more openly devout Iranians—the poor, the rural—voted for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Instead, Iranians appear to be fed up with theocracy.

Every Iranian dissident, from Akbar Ganji to Shirin Ebadi, has noted that the Bush administration’s talk of airstrikes on Iran acted to strengthen the regime. Interestingly, the United States still clandestinely funds guerrilla outfits such as Jundallah and opposition groups such as MEK who seek to topple the Islamic Republic. And, although most of these non-state actors are tiny groups with no chance of success, the Tehran government still portrays this as an ongoing anti-Iranian campaign. Nonetheless, President Obama is quite right to extend his moral support to Iranian protesters but not to get politically involved.

Currently, Iran stands at a crossroads; or perhaps a ‘mousetrap’ is a more fitting metaphor. Indeed, two weeks ago Ahmadinejad sought to illegitimately win the election and; while perhaps he might have gotten the ‘cheddar,’ he evidently underestimated the raw power of Iranian nationalism, a force which has newly set Iran’s horizon ablaze with possibility. For instance, were Iraq-based Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a man probably more revered in the Shia world than any other ayatollah to issue a fatwa condemning Tehran in any way, it would be a seismic event, and could result in the regime's collapse.

It is also worth mentioning, that roughly 60 percent of the population is under the age of thirty—a population that has read only about the ’79 revolution from its textbooks. This generation, caught between the burgeoning conflict between globalization and tradition, has no fear of forgetting its own national and religious customs exists. In short, what is happening in Iran could be more significant and more sustainable in the long run than the mere overthrow of dictators; a deep transformation is underway.