Observing Iran – inside out

Were are the residents of the poor areas of southern Tehran?

Recently several analysts have highlighted the issue of lack of mass involvement from the working class segments of Iran in the green movement protests. I wanted to share this article from Time Magazine which describes one of the weaknesses of the movement that needs to be addressed.

Iran certainly has its share of unruly worker unrest. Over the past year, strikes and walkouts have broken out in the automobile, tire, sugar, textile, metals and transportation industries. Many of these protests were concerned with bread-and-butter issues: wages not paid, unexpected layoffs, deteriorating benefits and rising unemployment. Yet an organized alliance between Iranian workers and students has still not materialized as it has elsewhere

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2045328_2045333_2053157,00.html

In a speech following the 2009 protests, a veteran Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander, Saeed Ghasemi, said the time to be afraid would come if the poor of south Tehran ever “went crazy” and withdrew their support for the supreme leader.

The consequences of the new sanctions
July 1, 2010, 1:18 pm
Filed under: Articles of Interest | Tags: ,

The consequences of the new round of sanctions are for the most people unknown. The world media is reporting on daily basis about the issue of Iranian Nuclear Issue and UN sanctions, EU sanctions, US Sanctions….The list is long and the reports contains hundreds of pages of legal details.

 So what does all this mean? The answer is very simple, nobody really knows!

If you speak with governmental officials, trade financing experts, financial analysts, embassies or journalists they will all give you probably very unclear answers.

There is today a list of :

  • 16 Iranian banks which are about to come under American sanctions.
  • 100 of Iranian companies and individuals
  • Dual use products
  • Export of fuel or gasoline
  • Payment guarantees such as L/C’s

The list is long, but the one major sanction that will interrupt the daily trade with Iran is the US pressure on international banks. Almost all international banks have either had visits or calls from US officials, who have made it clear that either you work with Iran or US. Since all financial instruments and institutions are American, banks that continue to work with Iranian counterparts will risk to lose access to the global financial systems governed by the US.

Within a few days, most international banks will take security measures and stop all transactions with Iranian banks as the risks are to great compared to the possible gains. The consequences of this will be that foreign exporting companies can no longer secure their payments in their trade with Iran and almost all major trade will Iran will stand still.


This  will have major impact on Iran’s economy and will hurt all Iranian businesses. So because nobody, even the experts, understand today what the go’s and no-go’s are. No bank is willing to risk its neck to conduct Iran trade and companies will have no tools within the financial system to secure its payments. This is a historical development and few people are understanding the complexity of the legal practicalities that comes with the Iran trade.

To be continued with further clarity in the stand that the international banks will take. Don’t take these latest round of sanctions easily, it could have large impacts.

If the developments will continue like this, Iran will sooner or later go into bankruptcy…

The Green Movement Objectives

There has been long discussions among the supporters of the Movement and reformists inside and outside Iran. What is Mousavi and Karrubi’s goals, do they want more reforms or to change the constitution to a secular republic?

The Green Agenda is: to get a broader platform, to attract former supporters and officials of the Islamic Republic to its manifestation. Then you need to communicate with a religious language, you can’t talk like a LA satellite Channel broadcaster to these individuals and think they will change their minds and turn green.

The Movement still needs to advocate reforms but stay strong in their criticism against the current leadership, explain more detailed how they see a Iran for all Iranians. How can we there exist a Iran which is for all Iranians: Religious, Secular, leftist, liberal, rural and urban etc.

RFL or Radio Farda had an interesting clarification on what is the objectives, I have copy pasted the most interesting part below.

“What Karrubi and Musavi want is to keep the name of the Islamic republic but fundamentally change the content of it,” Khalaji declares.

“So Khamenei is right, because Khamenei says these people are hypocrites. They pretend that they are reformists but actually they are revolutionaries and that’s true, they want to revolutionize the content of the Islamic republic.” 

For all the continued emphasis on religion, the end result would be secular. 

“Democracy in Iran cannot but be secular,” says Khalaji. “Even though religious people are taking part in this movement, the nature of the movement is secular, the demands are secular.

It doesn’t matter who participates, maybe some clerics participate in this movement — [former President Mohammad] Khatami and Karrubi, they are clerics. Equality between men and women is a secular demand. It’s not Islamic. Equality between citizens — it’s a secular demand. The removal of discrimination against different religious and ethnic minorities is a secular demand.”

Article of the Week: Iran’s Democratic Manifesto

Iran’s Democratic Manifesto

The opposition leader has issued a clear call for democracy, the separation of mosque and state, and a gentler foreign policy..


Ten days before the June 12 anniversary of last year’s contested presidential election, Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi called for his supporters to protest in the streets as they had one year before. Then he rescinded his own message. Many Iranian democrats derided this about-face as defeatist. Here in America, observers took Mr. Mousavi’s gesture—and the fact that only 400 people were reportedly arrested in Tehran on the anniversary—as the death knell of the Green movement.

But two days later, on June 15, Mr. Mousavi issued a working draft for what he calls the “Covenant of the Green Movement.” Though the document has gone largely unnoticed in the Western press, its message is remarkable both for what it articulates and leaves unsaid.

The covenant is Mr. Mousavi’s most defiant critique of the status quo, calling the regime “institutionalized corruption hiding behind a pretense of piety.” He laments the fact that Iran has the world’s highest per capita rate of executions, and points to the fact that public coffers are plundered by government officials. The suffering and heroism of the people, he says, has torn asunder “the curtain of hypocrisies and duplicity manifest in the behavior of those wishing total domination (tamamiyatkhah)” in the regime.

At the same time, he offers some clear strategies and goals for the democratic movement. He clearly places himself and the Green movement in the 100-year-old tradition of Iranians advocating for modernity, democracy, secularism and the rule of law. For a century, the defining battle of Iranian politics has been between those, in the tradition of John Locke, who advocated for popular sovereignty as the only legitimate source of authority, and those who believe in divine legitimacy. The battle between these two paradigms was first joined in 1905, when a new constitution was written that made monarchy—once a divine gift, with the king claiming to be “shadow of God”—dependent on popular will and limited in scope.

Opposed to this view, Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, and now Ayatollah Khamenei and his concept of Velyat-e Faqih—which claims that one man, the faqih or jurist, rules in the place of the last Shiite imam who is now in hiding—are forceful proponents of divine legitimacy. Mr. Mousavi makes it clear that he is on the other side. The Green movement, he writes, wants nothing short of “popular sovereignty.” In the face of a regime that “breaches and disdains the law,” the movement’s ultimate goal, he says, is free and fair elections, with no vetting process, to finally establish the will of the people.

The people’s only path to victory, Mr. Mousavi argues, is sustaining a vast, democratic movement that is inclusive, pluralist, averse to revenge and violence, and prone to dialogue and forgiveness. While he admits that in any future Iran religion “will have a presence,” he clearly advocates the independence of “religious institutions from institutions of the state.” This is as clear a call for genuine secularism as has been in recent political discourse in Iran.

Iran’s Green movement, Mr. Mousavi says, respects international standards of human rights and believes in full equality before the law, “irrespective of ideology, religion, gender, ethnicity and geographical location.” This beguilingly simple proclamation stands in sharp contrast to Iran’s current Shariah-based legal regime that systematically privileges men over women, and Muslims over Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians and members of the Bahai faith. He also advocates a foreign policy that is “rational and transparent,” and that favors dialogue and “diplomacy over adventurism and chicanery.”

Surely some of Mr. Mousavi’s ideas and demands have been articulated in the past by secular Iranian intellectuals. Some of them were in fact part of the demands that together spurred the 1979 revolution. But the coalition that toppled the shah and brought the ayatollahs to power was an unwieldy coalition of incongruent ideas and forces. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mr. Khamenei represent the most reactionary forces of that coalition.

With this manifesto, Mr. Mousavi has come to fully represent the democratic elements of that coalition. His humble disposition, his invitation for critical dialogue about ways to improve the document, and his defiance in the face of constant threats by the regime and its thugs, all point to a new turn in Iran’s democratic movement. This once radical prime minister, beloved by Khomeini, has come to represent the aspirations of Iran’s prudent democrats.

The world today faces a clear choice: the regime, with its brutal policies at home and its confrontational nuclear policy abroad; or the possibility of a democratic Iran with an accountable foreign policy. The world must serve notice that any attack on Mr. Mousavi will bring about the regime’s total isolation—not unlike apartheid South Africa. A democratic Iran is the only solution to the world’s Iran problem, and Mr. Mousavi’s new statement provides a promising blueprint for achieving this goal.

NY Times: Roger Cohen – Iran in Its Intricacy
March 7, 2010, 11:36 am
Filed under: Articles of Interest | Tags: , , ,

Another good article written by Roger Cohen

Iran in Its Intricacy

By ROGER COHEN Published: March 4, 2010

PARIS — A year has passed since President Obama’s groundbreaking Nowruz offer to Iran of engagement based on mutual respect. Iran is now a different country, its divided regime weaker and confronted by the Green movement, the strongest expression of people power in the Middle East and a beacon for the region.

There’s nothing new in U.S. hawks reducing Iran to a nuclear abstraction, its 70 million citizens subsumed into a putative warhead, its civilization ignored and its historical grievances against the United States glossed over — all in the name of making Persia a U.S. electoral pawn and a threat that demands bombs.

But the war option remains unthinkable, a potential disaster for the United States and Israel. It’s therefore worth outlining, before the drumbeat intensifies in the run-up to the mid-term U.S. elections, 10 truths about Iran.

1.Iran’s hardliners thrive on isolation.  Read the full article on New York Times