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.

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

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.

‘Middle Class Revolutions’
February 17, 2011, 7:06 pm
Filed under: Iran | Tags: ,

Watching CNN, BBC or any major international news source there is much talks about the twitter or Facebook revolutions and generations. Yes, these social medias have been a tool to initiate protests but they are not a decisive tool to bring about change in Middle Eastern nations. First of all, only a few percentage of the Iranian population has Facebook or twitter accounts. It’s more within the young middle class generation who have access to these tools. If relying on the social medias, the movements will ultimately fail and will be used against its organisers.

The workers of Iran will be the final cause of change

The Iranian middle class are the most active group and the main people on the streets of Iran. The Iranian regime is aware of this, they are not building their power base on them. They are aiming for the Mostazafin  (the outcasts, the oppressed masses or poor working class) segments of Iranian population.

To archive a powerful movement that would shake the grounds of the rulers these things need to be addressed:

  • Involve and mobilise the working class of urban Iran
  • Mobilise the state employees, teachers, bus drivers, oil workers, truck drivers etc.
  • Get the bazaars merchants to participate in the protests by shutting down during the days of protests.
  • Unemployed youth of southern Tehran

Social Medias are for the Middle Class, they now how to communicate their message to the other segments of the Iranian society. The down with slogans on the streets should not be directed towards the nations leaders, but more towards economical and social failures.

  • The middle class wants: political freedom, free elections, freedom of press etc.
  • The working class wants: job opportunities, purchasing power, workers rights, unions etc.

The slogans and messages need to include the needs of the working class for them to join in. When ordinary Iranian working class joins in, then nobody is running from basijis. They are the real hard men and women of Iran, that would die to archive their demands.

A “revolution” can never triumph if it’s a “middle class revolution”. The only chance a revolution can have is if the poor masses join the protests, and the working class launches a general strike. 20th of february will be the next date that Iranians defy their rulers, if the poor in the cities join in…then they are up for yet another great suprise.