Iran, on the path to a transformation


by shayan123

Back on June 21, in his fifth statement after the controversial and disputed presidential election, Mousavi raised a startling point which didn’t draw too much attention. “When I look at the scene, I see it staged for goals beyond simply forcing an unpopular administration. It is actually about forcing a new political way of life on the nation.” Under the circumstances, Mousavi couldn’t say more, but an unconfirmed report revealing a secret meeting’s discussions, held during the elections’ campaign shed a new light on Mousavi’s assertion. According to the story run on the websites affiliated to Mousavi supporters, the meeting took place during the elections' campaign and reportedly Ahmadinejad, five of his confidants, and a few people from his campaign team, plus a handful of the members of Majlis (Parliament) were present.

According to an unnamed participant to the meeting, whose disclosures haven’t been denied to this moment, at one point, Ahmadinejad stated: “The mission of all the administration’s supporters, especially the members of Majlis is to start making noises about changing the constitution… It doesn’t make any sense that the president can serve just two consecutive terms. As it is for the members of Majlis, the president’s terms should be unlimited… We should learn from the experience of our friends in Latin America. If Mr. Chavez with an indescribable resilience could change their constitution, we also can do it. There is only one condition. We shouldn’t be afraid.”

It has been a hot issue of argument in the last few years, sometimes getting nasty between the radical conservatives “Principlists” and the reformists as to the extent in which people’s votes are valid, and should be respected in an Islamic society.

Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, the religious mentor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is widely believed to be the man pulling the strings behind the scene. Contrary to the Western analysts’ common belief, Mesbah Yazdi is not under the influence of the Supreme Leader. In fact, there is a hidden rivalry going on between the two, while each tries not to step on the other one’s toes.

The two are coming from two different schools of thought, and have two different visions, although both are considered to be conservatives. An issue central to the differences between Mesbah Yazdi and Ayatollah Khamenei is the nuclear weapons. While in 2005 Khamenei issued a fatwa forbidding the production, stock piling, and use of nuclear weapons, in a lecture delivered in 2006 by one of Mesbah Yazdi's well-known followers, Mohsen Gharavian, using an atomic bomb was granted religious legitimacy.

Following the 2005 elections and Ahmadinejad’s sweeping victory, Mesbah Yazdi declared that Iran now had its first Islamic government, and that there was no need for more elections. Mesbah believes that the Islamic Republic is a concession to secularism and should be replaced by an Islamic government. Although on paper and according to the constitution, Ayatollah Khamenei holds the ultimate power in Iran, in reality, it is Mesbah’s followers who have the whip in hand in Sepah (the Revolutionary Guard) and the Basij paramilitary forces.

This year’s elections were staged to maintain Ahmadinejad in the office for another four years at any cost. Although the ruling oligarch is paying a high price one, due to the legitimacy crisis caused by the widespread votes rigging, as claimed by Mousavi, and two, due to an unprecedented mass uprising of the last three decades, it shows no signs of hesitation to use all weapons at its disposal to crush the protests.

In the aforementioned meeting, Ahmadinejad while ridiculing his opponents who “want to get rid of him” maintained: “they don’t know that we will be serving them for a long long time. In politics, your first mistake would be your last.”

Now, after two weeks of streets protests over the June 12 election, radical conservatives appear to be regaining control and dominance.

During the last half-century, Iranians have experienced several major upheavals each 10 to 20 years apart. The oil nationalization movement led by the democratically-elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq, was crushed by an Anglo-American coup d’etat in 1953. The country was dead silent until 1963, the year of the burst out of the bloody uprising of June 5 (movement of 15 Khordad) which was inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini’s denunciation of the Shah’s programs, his dependence on the U.S., and his support of Israel.

From 1963 onwards, although many leftists and Islamic underground militia groups came to existence in Iran, there was no mass movement for 15 years. In 1978-1979, the widespread revolt – marked as the Islamic Revolution – overthrew the Shah’s regime, and ended thousands of years of monarchy in Iran. Iran had a new regime and a new political order.

Soon after the revolution, the tension started brewing between the new government and the opposition groups. Eventually, in 1981, the conflict between the most popular anti-government organization and the new regime got bloody. Mujahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO) was crushed and its leadership and members were either killed or fled from the country.

There were no widespread or violent public protests for 18 years until July 1999, when the Iranian students protested against the closure of a reformist newspaper, Salam. The movement rapidly spread from Tehran to other cities. Seven days of rioting and demonstrations were inarguably the most serious mass upheaval that the Iranian Islamic regime had experienced since the revolution.

After 10 years of silence, with no mass demonstrations, no street protests or violence, since the day after the election day of June 12 this year , the country is witnessing the worst unrest in the last three decades.

So, according to this the historical timeline, after each suppression, it takes between 10 to 20 years for people to come back and actively challenge the established authority.

However, one should not be misled by the superficial similarities between the current crisis in Iran and other internationally known protests, for instance the Tiananmen Square. While the majority of popular upheavals, historically, have been about people against their governments, the existing situation in Iran marks a battle between the traditionalists who support the government and the modernists who wholeheartedly are against the social order defined and regulated by the Islamic rules. Deep down they are in search of a secular government.

While certainly discontent with Ahmadinejad’s disastrous economic policies was sensible, the protestors’ request, apart from a thorough investigation about the vote rigging issue, was focused on freedom.

The preparedness of the government in confronting the protesters was stunning. Thousands of anti-riot black-uniformed police equipped with all kinds of anti-riot and communication instruments, special motorcycles and cars, never seen on the streets before, backed up by the Basij militia and plain clothes forces were positioned in no time in the city squares and around governmental buildings.

The whole display of attacking thousands of protesters with tear gas and water cannons, beating the protesting groups who were more persistent, with the help of organized plain clothes forces moving on motorcycles in thousands, from place to place, was so systematic and skilfully planned that would leave one little doubt that there must have been a tough, sophisticated training going on for a long period of time. Interestingly, Mehdi Karrubi ex-speaker of Majlis and one of the defeated candidates, in a sharp statement issued on June 30, revealed that the anti-riot personnel were trained in Russia.

As Mousavi implicitly mentioned in his statement, the whole scenario from the elections to quelling of the demonstration was meticulously planned for reaching a “goal beyond the election” as noted by Ahmadinejad during the mentioned secret meeting. As advocated by Mesbah Yazdi, they are seeking a structural change, i.e. replacing the Islamic Republic with the Islamic government.

Not only historically –as we saw before - it is unrealistic to expect another massive disturbance in the near future, it is also idealistic to expect that the Guardian Council, the body which is charged with supervising all the elections and approving the candidates, would let anyone from the reform camp to run for presidency at least for the next two to four terms.

It is also logical to anticipate a quickened escape of capital, brains, and skills in the next couple of years due to a social disappointment and sense of insecurity. Lack of sense of stability will certainly affect the domestic and international investments which in conjunction with the out flow of capital could portray not very rosy years for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.



For leadership outside of Iran

by Abarmard on

I recommend someone passionate, charismatic, intelligent, straight forward, tough and lovable:

Marjane Satrapi


nice, BUT....

by shushtari on

I bet that the people of iran will disagree with you and your pessimistic view....

all the guns, bullets, and russian training cannot suppress the people's thirst for freedom....

it is a well documented fact that these akhoonds have learned from shah's mistakes in letting the volcano take over the whole nation- they have actually paid consultants who study how revolutions come about- and they know that it often starts with young people and students/ these are the poor groups who get pushed back or killed first

yet, deep in my gut, I KNOW FOR A FACT that the mullahs' days are numbered.....and that this is the beginning of the end of the rape and pillage of iran...

we need a solid leadership outside iran to form a government in exile and push the US and others for a national referrendum....

iran will be free soon, make no mistake about it!

javid iran 

Mardom Mazloom

In my sense you rapidly go to your conclusion

by Mardom Mazloom on

Your discourse is deployed in 22 paragraphs, 20 of which give a true insight of things

I however don't agree with you on your two last paragraphs which are more speculations than reality.

The major missing factor in your conclusion is PEOPLE whose protest is far to be finished. The struggle doesn't end because those fanatics who detain power say so. Conservatives in one hand and reformists and People in the other know that if the other camp gain the upper hand, there would be no room for the other.

So, if you consider that people and reformists are much more numerous than conservatives. And that what people want, i.e. freedom, is the essence of humanity - so fighting for it is a crucial and natural act. And also, as you mentioned, the regime faces a real pressure from the outside. The two last paragraphs are far to synthesize what will really be accomplished in the near future.


nice job

by Abarmard on

Well done analysis. Enjoyed reading it very much.

Thank you.


amou yadegar khabi ya bidar?

by fozolie on

That is why people came out in droves ignoring calls for boycott of elections. They sensed the danger better than anyone outside.  The sham schemes to turn the Islamic Republic into Islamic RULE has been exposed already (as well as Antari's desire to follow Chavezessimo into making himself president for life).

Meanwhile I recommend this:


Mr. Fozolie