Observing Iran – inside out

Bomb Iran
March 26, 2012, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Iran


When the Middle East changed

An excellent audio program about the US policy in Middle East and how the Middle East great game for oil created todays modern Middle East.

[2011-08-17] How did the U.S. become so dependent on Saudi Arabia, both for its allegiance in the Middle East and its oil? We’ll look back this hour with historian and journalist Andrew Scott Cooper, whose new book is “The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East”  (Simon & Schuster, 2011).

When the Middle East Changed (Audio)

Nation of Exiles – Documentary about the Green Movement in Iran
April 29, 2011, 12:58 am
Filed under: Iran, Media Clips | Tags: , ,

Nation of Exiles from Percival Mosaedi on Vimeo.

Iran’s blue-collar revolution
April 7, 2011, 9:57 am
Filed under: Iran | Tags: , ,

Two Iranian authors write an excellent article in the Foreign Policy Magazine called “Iran’s Blue-Collar Revolution”. The article touches the question “Has President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lost his working-class support base?”


Highlights some of the statements in the blog earlier in februari https://observingiran.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/middle-class-revolutions/ Seems like everyone is understanding the importance of reaching out to the poor masses in Iran.

Can Non-Violent Resistance Work in Iran?

From Carnegie Endowment: With popular protest movements engulfing the Middle East, Iran’s opposition movement hopes to rekindle the momentum that brought millions of Iranians to the streets in the summer of 2009. Their strategy of non-violent protest, however, has so far been suffocated by the Islamic Republic’s massive security presence in the streets, willingness to use violence against protesters, mass imprisonments, and communication embargoes.

The Carnegie Endowment hosted Iranian political philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo and Italian diplomat and author Roberto Toscano to discuss the prospects for non-violent resistance in Iran. Carnegie’s Karim Sadjadpour  moderated.

Non-Violence as a Strategic Imperative

Despite the Iranian regime’s willingness to crack down on protestors with brutal force, Jahanbegloo and Toscano argued that non-violence is the best strategic option for the opposition. 

  • Violence does not bring democracy: Violent revolution does not allow for the kind of reconciliation and dialogue necessary to build a democracy, Jahanbegloo argued. Moderates made a mistake after the Islamic Revolution in accepting the violence of the new regime and its execution of opponents, because this set the stage for its future use of repression. It is better to be a dissident than a revolutionary, Toscano added. Dissidents always question authority while revolutionaries end up having to defend a new status -quo.
  • Violence doesn’t work: Non-violent movements have historically had better records of success than violent movements, said Toscano.  In Iran violent conflict would play to the regime’s strengths, Jahanbegloo argued. The regime has more weapons and is much better at using violence than the opposition, whose most powerful advantage is its moral capital. 

Opposition Progress in Iran

With many opposition leaders in jail or exiled and street demonstrations put down by an overwhelming security presence, the prospects for Iran’s pro-democratic movement may appear dim. But there is significant reason for hope, said Jahanbegloo and Toscano.

  • Iran’s leaders are scared: The regime would not have cracked down so hard on the opposition Green Movement if it did not feel acutely threatened by their actions, Jahanbegloo argued. 
  • The regime has lost legitimacy: The regime’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrators has already undermined its legitimacy among the Iranian people, said Jahanbegloo.
  • The societal basis for democracy has solidified: The reform movement was not born in 2009, explained Jahanbegloo. The intellectual, student, and women’s rights movements that have been building since the end of the Iran-Iraq war and through the Mohammad Khatami presidency have established a strong civil society in Iran. When change occurs in Iran, it will be because the political culture has changed so much that the regime can no longer hold on to power, argued Toscano. That new political culture will be more sustainable. 

Challenges for the Opposition

Despite this progress, the opposition faces a difficult road ahead, and must address several key obstacles:

  • Leadership: The opposition lacks a clear leader, which can be both a strength and a weakness. On the one hand, the movement cannot be easily decapitated and has survived despite mass arrests of its leaders. Yet it also lacks coordination and the clear political strategy and skills needed to move beyond demonstrations, said Toscano.
  • The socioeconomic factor: The Green Movement began as a largely middle-class phenomenon demonstrating for political rights in the face of a flawed election. But to build a sustainable base it will have to compete with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s populist outreach and convince the lower classes that a new kind of regime will deliver social and economic progress, said Toscano. The opposition needs to get trade unions and merchants on their side, added Jahanbegloo.
  • Winning over key regime actors: Iran is different from countries like Egypt and Tunisia because its military has a strong ideological association with the current regime and does not see the same potential to reinvent itself under a new political order. Protesters should still do more to reach out to individual Basij and Revolutionary Guardsmen, Jahanbegloo suggested, because some of them may be open to change. The clergy, another powerful institution in Iran, has always been divided about the idea of fused religious and political rule and many religious leaders are open to change. But they need to be convinced that they will still have a future in any new regime, added Toscano. 

The International Community’s Role

A large part of the strength of the Iranian opposition is its indigenous nature, agreed the participants, and foreign actors should play only a limited role. But there are several things the international community can do:

  • Be consistent in supporting human rights and democracy abroad: The Iranian regime consistently points out the hypocrisy of the United States and Europe in condemning abuses within Iran but supporting dictatorial regimes elsewhere. This undermines the West’s credibility in criticizing Iran’s record, said Toscano.
  • Give indirect assistance: Direct foreign financial assistance can destroy the credibility of civic groups, said Jahanbegloo, but education programs and experience sharing by dissidents from other countries can be helpful. 
  • Target human rights violators: The United States has already begun to sanction Iranian officials accused of human rights violations. This is a positive step because it shows the United States cares about more than just nuclear issues in Iran, continued Toscano. 
  • Don’t invade Iran: Military intervention in Iran would destroy the Green Movement, warned Jahanbegloo, because it would unite the country around the regime.

Bahrain and Oman crossroad

 Two very similar states that are close to my heart but with different future, the case of Oman and Bahrain. The choice of Iron fist or reaching out was handed to the leaders of the states. As they took two different approaches, the region watched and analysed to see which option they should take if faced with the unavoidable popular discontent.

Bahrain in a pre-revolutionary status

Bahrain established itself as the Gulf’s financial hub in the 1980s when banks catering to the region’s wealth left Beirut during the Lebanese civil war. But once again the money in Middle East are changing vaults.

Bahrain has experienced protests for several years in small-scale, although the discontent has been under the surface the global community has portrait Bahrain as a financial center in the Persian Gulf. The main income of this state is tourism (16% of GDP)  and it’s financial sector (25% of GDP), Bahrain’s tourism and financial sectors have been hit by the unrest that has gripped the country and it will be an impossible mission to restore its reputation as a business-friendly hub.

Bahrain is a lost business case, the protests and the movement will continue until it reaches results. The community is too small to forget and pass on, Bahrain is a society were everyone knows everyone and these scars and memories will not be washed away or forgotten. The cracks between the rulers and the people are to great to continue with business as usual. The management of the crisis by the authorities have been a failure, as the state of Bahrain can’t be ruled as a military state.

Artificial forces that  is holding the authorities in place  is not a sustainable model of governance, as the decision makers have made fatal mistakes and lost the faith of the people.

Oman – The Sultan of the people

Sultan Qaboos, has led his country for 41 years and showed a high level of ability of managing and solving national crisis. Oman was the first country in the Arabian Peninsula to be effected  of the uprisings in North Africa. People took to the streets in Soha Industrial region and soon the protests spread to several cities in the Sultanat. As soon as blood was spilled on the grounds of the country the Sultan took immediate actions and went beyond the demands of the protestors and sacked almost his entire government. He promised more reforms than what the people initially had asked for but with one pre-condition to restore order and security.

Today, Oman seems to have surfed over the wave of protests that broke out a few weeks ago. The government handled the protests exceptionally and didn’t allow it to develop into a crisis, similar to the king of Jordan.

Oman could have taken a totally different road but with wise judgement and leadership of the country it avoided the path of violence and chaos as Bahrain took. Today, the Sultan of Oman is probably more respected than in the past because of his management skills.

Bahrain & Oman are to states in the GCC union

The international Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks Bahrain as 33th(26.800$/year) and Oman as 34th /26.200$/year) in the world in terms of GDP per capita. Economical the two states are in almost exact same position in 2010, but in near future one will fall and the other will rise in economic prosperity due to political leadership decisions taken in early 2011.

This will also have major effects on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); a political and economic union of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.was founded in 1981. Depending on how the situation in Bahrain will be handled from now on, the political and economical effects will be felt across GCC.

In a time of uncertainty, one thing is certain. Nobody is immune to what is happening in North Africa and Middle East

Like to add: This is a very interesting interactive timeline of Middle Eastern protests http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2011/mar/22/middle-east-protest-interactive-timeline

UN assigns human rights investigator to Iran – Thank you Sweden
March 25, 2011, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Iran | Tags: , , ,

Press release 24 March 2011
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden

Greater pressure for human rights in Iran

At Sweden’s initiative, the UN Human Rights Council decided today to establish a special rapporteur for human rights in Iran. The rapporteur will gather information on the situation in Iran and help to call attention to human rights problems in the country.

“The worsening human rights situation in the Iran is worrying and greater pressure on the country is needed in this area. I am therefore very pleased that the UN Human Rights Council, at Sweden’s initiative, decided on a special rapporteur for human rights in Iran,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt.

Thank you Sweden and Carl Bildt for your humanitarian initiative, your support will not be forgotten. Special thanks to Iranians in Sweden for actively engaging and creating awareness to the Swedish public and the Swedish Government about the human rights abuses in Iran. Step by step Iran will raise again

Iranian Women – The lionesses of the democracy movement

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Women are the victims of this patriarchal culture, but they are also its carriers. Let us keep in mind that every oppressive man was raised in the confines of his mother’s home.
Shirin Ebadi
Read more about the century old women’s right movement in Iran http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_rights_movement_in_Iran

To the Green Movements Opponents!

For years I have been observing how some Iranians dismisses all internal opposition towards the Iranian regime as fake or ‘conspiracy’. They claim that any dissident that once been part of the establishment or supported the revolution can’t be considered as ‘real opposition’. I can’t estimate how many these people are but they are a minority, although a minority that indirectly is advocating the regimes objectives.

Most of these people are actually exile Iranians, who claim that only they are real opposition and anyone with former past within the Islamic Republic are just pursuing a suspicious agenda. Similar to the Iranian regime who claims that any internal opposition is working with foreign states.

Over the years claims was directed towards people like: Akbar Ganji, Heshmat Tabarzadi, Mohsen Sazegara, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Ayatollah Montazeri, Ali Afshari and many more that they would be  regimes agents. Well the regime also claims they belong to foreign spy agencies…Today the claims are that Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami or Abdollah Nouri and many more are “the insiders opposition”. These people are so far away from the realities of todays Iran, when are you going to grow intellectually and see that you are doing the Iranian regime the biggest favour possible. Hurting the credibility of any dissent from their previous governmental ranks.

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself. – Thomas Paine

Do you think that the opposition voices from Los Angeles or Paris is hurting the regime? No, it doesn’t really..but the voices from Tehran, Qom or Isfahan does. When figures from the regime distance themselves from the leaders and oppose them or reveal its inner secrets, that hurts. Instead of encouraging current officials to distance themselves, you discourage such actions.

Welcome all regime officials, who leaves their posts or criticizes the regime. Welcome internal critics and embrace such behaviour. Fight for their voices to be heard and taken seriousness. In Iran there is impossible to critics the leaders directly, so the language has to be  indirect and in a balanced tone. When will you accept that people can change their minds, when will you welcome that you don’t have monopoly on opposition views as no leader in Iran has monopoly on power.

Iran is facing its darkest days ever if you don’t unite to fight against the most brutal repressive forces. In Iran people are embracing security forces when they manage to overrun them, the same guy that was beating them 5 min earlier. Why can’t you learn from your fellow compatriots inside the country.

Today all Iranians should support anyone that takes a stance against the regime. Support your fellow compatriots right to raise his or her views. Only then can you call yourself a democrat! Iranians are being killed and Iranians need to come in defence of their compatriots, no matter what political affiliations they have

Must See: the clip were Ali-Reza Nourizadeh answers Shahram Homayoun on Channel One

Mehdi Karroubi – Iranian of the year (2010)
February 26, 2011, 4:16 am
Filed under: Media Clips