Not too late

Iran’s leaders can show maturity by adopting a less fearful approach


Not too late
by Niloufar Parsi

The recent presidential elections turmoil in Iran, regardless of the ‘truth’ behind the events, will undoubtedly have serious ramifications for the Islamic Republic on several fronts.

Chief among these is an inevitable blow to the Islamic Regime’s legitimacy, and its regional and global standing in the eyes of Iranians, the region’s population, and that of the world at large.

Within Iran, it is clear that a major rift among the population has manifested itself both on the streets and within the political and religious elite. On the one hand, millions of Iranian women and men have confirmed their frustration with the Regime and Mr. Ahmadinejad’s presidency through street demonstrations and direct action.

On the other, the handpicked candidates who were actually allowed the privilege of participating in the presidential elections by the ‘Supreme Leader’ together with their more powerful backers behind the scenes have turned on each other in a surprisingly public and vitriolic manner.

What began as a positive and welcome show of openness in televised live debates among the candidates quickly turned into allegations of election fraud by the losing side almost as soon as the poles closed. This was swiftly followed by a fierce crackdown against public dissent – ironically, just over a week after the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

Implications inside Iran

While the street demonstrations have predictably fizzled out in the face of a Basiji militia onslaught, a new government headed by Mr. Ahmadinejad is likely to face enormous challenges ahead. The powerful Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, has already made his misgivings known to the President Elect. A number of deputies have also raised their voices, and it will certainly be difficult for the president-elect to establish a strong Cabinet supported by the Majles. Much less is he able to portray his presidency as one for the entire nation.

The new government will likely spend much of its time tied up in dealing with internal squabbles, which in turn would lead to a slow-down in economic and social progress. A government that is seen as being short on legitimacy will not enjoy the support of a dedicated and cooperative civil service – quite the opposite. National development planning and executive leadership are likely to be heavily compromised for the next four years.

If anything, Mr. Rafsanjani, who is the second most powerful regime figure after Mr. Khamenei, and whose integrity and power were singularly targeted by Mr. Ahmadinejad during his campaign, will ensure that internal opposition to the new government will be strong and effective. Mr. Rafsanjani’s own political and economic survival depends on it, particularly as the Supreme Leader appeared to acquiesce with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s surprise attack.

Regional consequences

On the regional level too, the Islamic Republic has dealt itself a major blow. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s standing has been compromised, as has that of the Mr. Khamenei, who has clearly failed to show impartiality in the affair.

The Islamic Republic’s winning card has been its claim to public support both inside and outside the country. But its constant flow of tears for the downtrodden Palestinians will remind many of crocodiles when it is so willing to shoot unarmed demonstrators among its own population.

Moreover, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s intransigent style and perceived Anti-Semitism is just what the doctor ordered for an isolated, extremist and increasingly desperate Israel.

The Islamic Regime’s influence among the public in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq will suffer, as they have witnessed a previously respected and independent ally being so clearly unwilling to accommodate cries for greater freedom and openness at home. As the Americans and Israelis have found, a naked projection of power devoid of any moral standing does not go down well with the region’s population.

The region’s foremost democracy, Turkey, will have little incentive for being associated with the Islamic Regime’s new president-elect for the next four years at least. If anything, Turkey’s bid for regional leadership has been boosted by the Islamic Republic’s own goal in the game.

Iran’s plans for leading the drive toward enhanced regional economic cooperation and development, and her hitherto successful attempts at greater influence in Central Asia and among member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council would be hindered by internal friction.

In the eyes of the world

In the global arena too, Mr. Ahmadinejad is unlikely to experience the divine halo over himself at the UN General Assembly any longer. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and the Iranians’ love for the Internet, Mr. Khamenei will not any longer be able to boast about Iran’s popular Islamic Revolution without sounding overtly Orwellian, or, more pertinently, Shah-like. The distance between reality and the theocracy’s claims has grown significantly.

The Islamic Republic’s relations with democratic emerging powerhouses like India and Brazil have been jeopardized too, and Mr. Chavez’ unequivocal and rather rash support for Mr. Ahmadinejad only serves to isolate him more quickly.

In the current climate of global economic uncertainty and a general consensus for the need for solutions, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s presidency would lower Iran’s place on the list of invitees to important forums. This has already manifested itself in the case of the G8’s recent withdrawal of invitation to the Iranian Foreign Minister to discuss Afghanistan at last weekend’s meeting in Trieste.

In terms of nuclear negotiations, Mr. Ahmadinejad is a spent force. Though highly useful in this regard in the past against a belligerent Bush administration, his confrontational approach only weakens Iran’s stance at a time when the US has emerged as a willing partner for peace.

Along with the IAEA’s findings and recommendations together with known assessments by US intelligence services, most powers are already ready to live with Iran having nuclear technology so long as international bodies monitor this. This has also been Iran’s consistent position on the matter since the dispute began.

Therefore, Iran has no need for an antagonistic approach any longer, and the language of Mr. Ahmadinejad will only undermine the Islamic Regime’s position over the coming period. His continuing leadership will ironically bolster the position of those seeking stronger sanctions and economic isolation of the Islamic Regime.

As the rhetorical confrontation between Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Obama continues to escalate, the Islamic Regime appears to have lost a valuable opportunity to grow in stature and even look like the ‘winner’ while at the same time ending decades of international isolation imposed by the West. Despite claims to the contrary, the Iranian economy is in desperate need of foreign investment.

It has also foregone the chance to lead the ‘Islamic world’ as a beacon of independence, tolerance and democracy in a new world order brought on by the global economic crisis. For now, Iran’s ship appears to be heading back toward more isolated and turbulent waters.

Nevertheless, the window of opportunity still remains open for Iran’s leaders to show maturity and foresight by adopting a softer, more conciliatory and less fearful approach. This was evident among the American public and elite in their latest elections. Iran’s leaders too need to recognize that times have changed.

Concessions to the opposition at this crucial juncture would elevate the leadership’s position and palatability both at home and abroad. Freedom of the press; removing repressive social and cultural restrictions, particularly on women; ceasing the jingoistic and self-defeating death chants against other countries; and disarming and disbanding the fascistic Basiji militias are among relatively simple and effective measures that could be taken.

The Islamic Republic needs to seize the moment to respond to Iranians and the wider world before it traps itself into becoming the Islamic Republic of the Revolutionary Guards of Iran – an isolated military dictatorship akin to North Korea or Myanmar.


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Niloufar Jaan, Here You Go Again

by Anonymous111 on

with the mis-comparisons and over the top fear mongering.  Iran cannot be compared with Poland.  The IRI is a military dictatorship.  The only real comparisons that can be made with today's IRI (in the 20th century) would be China, North Korea, Lybia, Sudan, Hitler's Germany, and possibly even the Khmer Rouge.  Now imagine the masses going on strike in any of those countries.  What do you think the government's response would be (or would have been)?  Poland was a case of a puppet government being controlled by an already weakend, collapsing and corrupt Soviet Empire.  It would have failed with or without strikes. 

Also, there will be no "civil war" if there is a military coup from inside the IRGC because 1) all of the forces that you mentioned really fall under IRGC's umberella and 2) whoever implements that coup will hopefully have the intelligence to bring all the forces in line before he makes his move.

In sum, I say again, after the events of the past three weeks, anyone who thinks that the IRI can be reformed internally should get his / head examined.  You cannot "reform" a military dictatorship.  It has never happened before and it will never happen in the future. 



by Dariush (not verified) on

You wrote,
"it is totally foolish to think that the Assembly of Experts will simply remove Khamenei and replace him by a 90-year old grandfather and organize elections in such a smooth manner, without any bloodshed or resistance from the IRGC or Basijis."

It is not foolish. It is possible.
It takes an organized and united force. The movement need more strong supporters from clergies to academics, businesses and top government employees to push for change of leadership and policies. Khomani's legacy has more influence on hardliners than khamenei.

You say, "they are animals and kill innocent people."
Then why create even a worse situation and get a lot more innocent people killed?

Jimmy, may be the reason that you don't see any other way is because, killing is the only way you know. If you are craving for some blood, you should shed some of your own. Start with Chaney and Rumsfeld. Here is another link for you, it explains the democrocy you are trying to export.

As you wrote, stop believing in this system and look at the real facts.


Bijan A M

Reality versus wishful thinking

by Bijan A M on

The notion of peaceful and gradual transformation of IRI into secular democratic republic is nothing but abstract and wishful thinking at best. This has nothing to do western text- books or exclusion of religion from democracy. The entire nation could be devoutly religious in the privacy of their own home, but the law of the land cannot and should not be dictated by the holy book. God, according to those holy books is a dictator. Hence, a secular democracy where religion is prohibited interfering with the laws of the land is the only “real” democracy. Call it Western democracy or whatever you like. Real democracy is real democracy. It allows for growth and welcomes change and adaptation to the laws of evolution.

Now, Ms Parsi, Dariush and some other peace loving people hate the IRI but advocate the notion that the system will likely collapse on its own and from within.  Internal fighting will weaken their base and freedom loving people are asked with bouquet of flowers to come rewrite the constitution. They say: It is not right for freedom fighters to scream “Marg bar dictator” if a basiji showed up with a knife or a gun. Go back to your hole and wait, the basij and Pasdars will eventually die on their own. 30 years is nothing. 2 terms of a reform government has nothing to do with their day dream that one day this regime will change on its own. Just be patient. Niloufar guarantees it.

You know what?, I am fed up with this nonsense. I thought it was naivety, but I’m beginning to think this whole effort is consciously intended to pacify the movement.

Jimmy: Thank you for your eloquent posts. I really appreciate it. We need more people like you to speak up.   

rosie is roxy is roshan

So many things...

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

The biggest 'victory' or perhaps better said hope right here  is that now people like Niloufar and Q and David and I canbegin to focus on what unites rather than what divides.  When I was Rosie T. a thousand years ago when the blogging had just begun---I used to constantly say certain 'slogans'-I actually had to shout them so to say over the unbelilevable din--and two of them were "Eveyone who wants a true parliamentary democracy in Iran is on the same side" and "Find common ground."

Another one was "Shut the f. up and start talking" (only in those days I was allowed to spell out the f. word.). LOL But now there is not just a question of talking but of DOING.

We are where we are. Where do we go from here? How can we best use our energies and harness the potential of this website and other avenues to support the process of change? It isn't going to be overnight and imho it's not worth losing one more life, and I think many here agree with me. VIOLENCE will lead nowhere. it will only make them crack down harder.

How can we be of help?


I do want to point out that the use of the word 'fraud' for the election in my opinion is a misnomer. A writer for the 'Young Turks' on salon said what I felt: the results were not intended to be taken seriously. They were intended to rub it in your face that Khamenei & Co. could do whatever they wanted.

That's what I always felt and tere is all kinds of support for this. For me one of the most convincing is that apparently the Chinese press had a field day for the first couple of weeks with all kinds of charicatures and jokes about AN-if anyone should be able to smell a non-election, it's them. You see, I don't think it can be called election fraud because I don't think it was an election. And I don't think they seriously intended anyone to seriously think there was.

Which brings up the problem behind it which David touches upon: this was a coup but they overplayed their hand. I don't think they anticipated the major fissures it would create within the moderate to even conservative clergy. But they really have completely militarized. Apparently in the months preceding the elections the Revolutinary Guards officially consolidated with the Basij and each Basiji was encouraged to recruite five more. And so on...

There was an interesting item I'd intended to post from huffpost (or niac??? will locate, original source was some IR press..) that the head of the Tehran police force said there were less deaths and injuries than there could have been because they had been notified by intelligence sources that there might be riots two weeks before the elction. The key word is 'intelligence'. What a word for a police chief to use...

so you are dealing with the paradox of a highly fissured clergy and parliament and a restless energized populace (with that f. word too--fizzle), AS WELL AS a full consolidation of military force behind Khamenei and AN--with actually the Sepaah as in control of Khamenei as he is of them...

so that is the where do WE go from here? I mean WE..the people who understand that we are where we are and the operant word is CHANGE (as David says...) and we have more in common than what separates. Where do WE go? To help?

I totally agree with Q. They say you shouldn't preach to the converted but I think at this point the best is to brainstorm with the converted. Anyone who isn't willing to accept the reality at this point and refuses to do anything positive "just because"...just because there's another I before Republic of just not going to be convinced.

anonymous fish

before making any specific comment

by anonymous fish on

and it might be that I don't at all because this is obviously too intimate a subject for me to pretend great knowledge of... BUT.  I just gotta say.  I've learned MORE about the situation in Iran from this blog than I have throughout the entire situation.  And I've just concluded why that is.  Not one ugly word.  Not one name-calling.  NOT ONE!  It has allowed the discussion to proceed based on intellect not bullying.  Different opinions expressed.  And with a respectful tone!  An exhange of intellect versus an exchange of abuse. 

Could it be the start of a trend?  :-)

May I say... damet garm! 

Niloufar Parsi

Anomymous111 aziz

by Niloufar Parsi on

re. the revolutionary guards, are we not talking about a civil war though with the armies of basijis and the ansar etc? 

re. strikes brining down dictatorships, please look up the history of the Gedansk workers of Poland under the leadership of Lech Walesa.

Niloufar Parsi


by Niloufar Parsi on

with all due respect, they may be stupid and misguided, but they are not animals. that would be their kind of language. we can't join them.

your point about the likelihood of violence is taken. I can't argue with that. the question is how much. that is the question gripping all the brave freedom fighters inside iran right now.

Niloufar Parsi

the regime

by Niloufar Parsi on

is abhorrent, ruthless, dictatorial....

it may collapse or it may end up reforming itself in order to avoid a collapse. that depends on the kind of pressure exerted by the people, the strategy of the opposition, the extent of divisions within the regime, and the state of the economy.  We are all angry and emotional, but mere anger does not destroy such regimes. more to the point, i refuse to join an angry raucous from outside the country egging iranians to go out and sacrifice their own lives for a violent overthrow of the regime. it somehow seems hypocritical for an exile like me to ask others to do what i wouldn't stay behind to do. this does not mean that i believe in the regime. i don't personally know anyone who does.


the mullahs should

by babakkhoramdin (not verified) on

that's what needs to be done n parsi.....your attempt to portray this regime as somehow humane or legit has no basis whatsoever.
how can you suggest that this regime somehow can morph or be rehabilitated when they hire arab mozdoors to kill the people of iran???
and now they are making a pathetic attempt to paint the protesters as foreign agents!!!
so please educate yourself on the true evil nature of this mullah regime and don't try to portray it as something that deserves legitimacy!
face it, the akhoonds are on a one way ticket to hell


Disgusted and Niloufar Parsi

by Jimmy (not verified) on

Disgusted, thank you very much for sending this article! We can see more and more how these animals operate and how crazy they are.

Niloufar Parsi, with all due respect, it is totally foolish to think that the Assembly of Experts will simply remove Khamenei and replace him by a 90-year old grandfather and organize elections in such a smooth manner, without any bloodshed or resistance from the IRGC or Basijis.

They are killing innocent and non-violent people who protest the rigging of the presidential elections and you think they would seat silent and accept the removal of their master for whom they are ready to kill and butcher? Come on! These are not civilized people, these are animals ready to kill to remain in power. There will be massive bloodshed, suicide bombing and all kinds of atrocities if anything goes against their plans.

This is why I don’t see any solution other than armed conflict to remove these animals from power. If anything happens to Khamenei, there will be internal infighting between different factions of IRGC, Basijis, police until one side gives in! If people take side, there will be a bloodbath.

Stop believing in this system and look at the real facts.


To Niloufar

by Disgusted (not verified) on

I don't know how you can still have hope for these animals ruling over Iran. These people are not humans but beasts. I got sick to my stomach reading this article in Le Figaro! How could they be humans?


For those who do not read French, in summary it says that according to accounts of two doctors passing through France asking to remain anonymous attending to the wounded during the protests in Tehran's hospitals, 92 people (instead of the official 17) have been killed in Tehran and suburbs! they talk about the corpses of six young men from Shahriar whose skulls were deliberately cracked and brains opened up to recover the bullets in order to wipe out the incriminating evidence relating their murders to the government rooftop snipers who had shot people in the back of the necks during the protests ... I can't go on ...


Niloufar Parsi / Bijan A M

by Dariush (not verified) on

Niloufar parsi,
I just wrote what i understood from your article. No need to thank me, but you are welcome.
Again, like the book, we were reading the same words, but we had different understandings.

Bijan A M,
You wrote,
"I am by no means advocating violence but I believe there is no other way to get rid of theocracy but violence."
Then you wrote,
"I realize we are sitting outside and don’t have our lives on the line, but there are many with god given gift of leadership who can support the movement by organizing groups, societies, get together, etc within Iran to better educate the masses."

You believe in education and evolution yourself, then what is the believe in violence?

I think what you meant was that, you believe there may not be any other way to get rid of theocracy but violence.

Why is that? Don't you think the violence can be used to build a case against the reformists and oppositions and more crackdowns. Who will lose? The gun or the rock? The hardliners or the opposition?

No one says the movement should stop. It should be better organized and educate the public through different means. You change the environment, people change with it.

As for Islamic democrocy. Do you mean democrocy and freedom under Islam or western style democrocy and freedom under Islam?
I am not an expert, but I think the first one can happen under Islam and the second one not. It depends on the interpretation and understanding of the leadership and public from Islam and democrocy. To avoid complication, i also think it would be best to keep the religion and state separate. However, even the separation of the two doesn't guaranty the democrocy and freedom, unless the leadership and people respect human rights.

I don't think we should use France, Spain, US or any other country as a model and get people killed for democrocy. We should use them as a model and learn from their mistakes and avoid civil war and find better ways such as education for democrocy. we can have a much better democrocy and freedom than what you see in the west. That is what we should aim for, not a copycat of what you see.

Some people speak of arm resistance and they are not even good at that. They just play with words and use the public. If you ever, ever wanted to do that, you don't have to start a civil war. For everything, there are wise ways and there are foolish ways.


Niloufar Jaan

by Anonymous111 on

Seriously doubt it.  I had two conversations with two family members about this issue.  One is a young man who works for the oil company and who voted for Mousavi (and is very, very upset about the whole thing).  I asked him why doesn't he strike?  His response was this: well, they're going to hire a Basiji in my place.  Then how am I going to feed my family? It just happens that this man's father worked for the oil company during the 1979 revolution and he did go on strike (he is now deceased).  So, I asked the young man's mother how come her husband did not think about getting fired back then and went on strike?  The answer: well, the Shah kept paying us!!!!!!  Even on strike, the Shah kept paying government employees.  That's how money remained in the system and people maintained their purchasing power.  So, the economy did not collapse.  No one got fired.  It was like being on paid vacation!

The bottom line is that: 1) a strike will never happen because people simply need to eat, especailly in Iran's materialistic society, and 2) the government will deal swiftly with striking workers by either quickly replacing them and / or by hauling them off to prison and "teaching them a lesson" (again, just like China would).

I do not know of any military dictatorships that were brought down by strikes.  If you do, please let me know.  I am seriously interested.  Perhaps the people of Iran can follow that example.    

Niloufar Parsi


by Niloufar Parsi on

the article was a great read actually. how about a major strike across the country? would that equal the power of the guards?

Niloufar Parsi


by Niloufar Parsi on

i understand your points, but i would still argue that conflict is not 'inevitable' in iran. interesting that in all that you did not mention 'class' as a factor, but here are a few examples of why western social science can be weak:

armed conflicts are not 'inevitable' just as the working class clearly are not the agents of socialist revolution or 'people power'. capitalism and the rise of the bourgeoisie do not necessarily result in the rise of democracy.  the US is far from a secular democracy because religion is hardly ever separated from politics in the US. actually it is quite akin to a christian type of corporatist oligarchy. remember the biggest fear about obama was not his being (half) black, but the 'threat' of him being a secret muslim. israel is a racist, semi-theocratic 'western' democracy that pretends to be secular while exclusively founded on a fundamentalist interpretation of a story book - work that one out! Europe is far from being truly secular yet as its ugly obsession with religious minorites has moved on to muslims, having so viciously persecuted the jews in the past.

not trying to 'prove' you wrong. just saying that such clear-cut nomenclature and systematised ordering of social and political relations with 'inevitable' consequences leave as many questions unanswered as they try to answer. 

therefore, the door should be left open for consideration of alternative models and possible outcomes for iran (or anywhere else) despite the history of the west.

this is not an argument against a violent overthrow of the regime, though we all would prefer a peaceful regime change if at all possible. it is simply an attempt at looking at possible outcomes objectively.

More practically, the following scenario remains possible: the internal rifts within the system grow so large that a 'coup' is staged against Khamenei through the Council of Experts that has the constitutional power to remove him. He is replaced by Montazeri who believes in the separation of religion from the state in addition to being the highest ranking cleric. He in turn launches an effort to revise the constitution accordingly, and this is put to the vote. A semi-secular democracy is born through the ballot box. impossible scenario?




by Anonymous111 on

There are some critical differences between the Shah, the Soviet Union and the IRI.  I will discuss them briefly below as I am short of time.

First, in the case of Shah, his regime was a monolithic lone dictatorship.  There was no ideology involved.  His reign was dependent on a very thin layer of detached aristocracy.  He was surrounded by selfish yes men with very little loyalty.  Those people essentially just packed up, cleared their banks accounts and left as soon as they saw an indication of being in danger.  He also relied on an army of conscripts for his protection, which easily broke apart and joined the masses.  That is why he was easily deposed.  The serpent’s head was cut off and the rest of the body just withered away.  

Next, in the case of the Soviet Union, there was a huge disconnect between the 1917 revolution and the cadre of the Soviet government of the 1990’s.  Most of the members of the Politburo, as well as all the other security organs, were not even born when the revolution happened.  They did not have the revolutionary zeal and, therefore, it was much easier for the ideology itself to collapse when a reformer took the helm.  Add to that the cost of running an empire—the former Soviet Block--, which pretty much bankrupted the country.  The collapse was inevitable.

Iran, on the other hand is much like China.  The Revolution is still young, and the zeal is still fresh.  Many of the old revolutionaries are still around and are in charge of security apparatus.  Add to that the fact that the IRI has created a sophisticated network of security forces that are staffed by zealots who are there to protect the regime.  Moreover, the IRI is a self sustaining system with multiple “checks and balances” to ensure that the system does not collapse like Shah’s regime.  To that end, I would even suggest that it is much more sophisticated than China.  There is no way to “cut off the head” and make the regime collapse.  

Like I said before (and I think you somewhat agree), the regime has to be overthrown—not changed—from within.  The IRI is a military dictatorship in that the center of power rests within the hands of the Revolutionary Guards, who also control more than 50% of Iran's economy (don't ask me for the source, as I forgot where I read it, but it was recent).  Because of that, only a military coup by members of IRI's own security apparatus can change this regime.   


Here's an interesting read on the subject:




To Niloufar Parsi

by Jimmy (not verified) on

Secular is different from being unbeliever. The United States is a secular democracy because religion is separated from politics. This said, religious influence exists, especially among the Republicans as they represent a more conservative side of the American society and it is not impossible that religion could be a source of inspiration for some laws and rulings. We saw this during the Bush presidency. But overall, the mechanisms of the political system must make sure that religion is kept out of the political sphere. It is not an easy task to find a balance but the US has so far succeeded.

Most candidates to presidency, whether they truly have any religious affiliation or not, must appeal to this large segment of the American population which is religious in order to gain their vote.

Europe, because of its history, has done a better job of keeping religion away from politics. This is especially true in France. Spain went through a civil war in the 30’s precisely because of irreconcilable differences between the Nationalists (Franco) and the Republicans (left-leaning). Nearly a million people were killed.

If Iranians, after losing faith in reforms and all other forms of non-violent protests reach this level of social schizophrenia, then an armed conflict will be inevitable.

Back in the 1980-85 period, the Iranian Left and other secular movements (National Front, Nehzat Azadi, Bani Sadr) were all wiped out of the political field for 3 reasons:

- The Iran-Iraq war which mobilized most of the society and discredited any opposition to the ruling system, and ghave free hands to the regime to suppress opposition

- The majority of Iranians (75%) were still leaning for Khomeini over all other groups because they had no attraction to secular movements.

- The violent nature of some secular movements (MEK) or the weakness of some others (National Front) and finally the questionable loyalty of others towards Iran (Tudeh with USSR, MEK with Iraq)

Today, things could be different. A large segment of Iranians want more freedom primarily, not just the Islamic freedoms promised by reformists and not just the economic progress promised by the candidates. Reformists want to work within the existing Constitution (drafted in 1979 by an Assembly made up of 60 clerics out of its 73 members – in highly contentious elections in August 1979 where the Left and other parties were totally kept away), which was by the way approved by less than 60% of the population with 65% approbation), while we have seen that this existing Constitution is actually the very reason why no reform can take place, as all the non-elected institutions within this system have so much power. As we also know, economic progress cannot come unless there is more social and political freedom…

Niloufar Parsi


by Niloufar Parsi on

I don't mean to be dismissive, but you should consider the cases of the Shah's regime and that of the Soviet Union. What you say about the IRI today was said about both of those regimes too. One was brought down by a popular revolution that was quite bloody, and the other collapsed from within without bloodshed.


Niloufar Parsi


by Niloufar Parsi on

the only way the regime could realistically afford concessions to the opposition would be by doing a major u-turn in policy. such u-turns require a fall guy - someone to blame. this would have to be ahmadinejad.

the article is a diplomatically worded stern warning to the regime to listen to the people or face the likely consequences. ahmadinejad would have to perform a miracle in order to ease the population's economic situation. He won't even manage to pass a decent cabinet through the majles.

btw, did anyone hear about a 2-day general strike in iran as of tomorrow? i got a phone call about it today. don't know if it's true. apparently people are passing the message around by phone.


Niloufar Parsi

Bijan khan

by Niloufar Parsi on

the only real difference between us is that i am open to new possibilities but you follow a given western text book dichotomy between democracy and religion as mutually exclusive forms of state organisation with secularism therefore being the 'goal' for democrats.

Let us remember that secular forms of government emerged from deeply religious societies, but the good question that you raise is: was this always done in a violent form? I do not know enough about history to know the definitive answer. What i would suggest is that perhaps alternatives can be found at this juncture in history regardless of western experiences in the past. call it 'naive' if you like, but i would prefer 'open-minded'.

Also, even in the US, you find me a single US president who ever openly dared to be an unbeliever, yet their system is supposed to allow it.

moreover, while we are both agreed on secular democracy being a more ideal form, can you be so certain that the majority in iran are after the same thing? 

lastly, the article is aimed at an international audience, not the resistance movement in iran. i certainly don't mean to deflate the movement. why on earth would i want to do that? on the contrary, seeing - as i claim - that ahmadinejad, even in the event of 'winning' in the short-term, is actually heading for disaster should reassure the movement. such a turn of events in my view is good news for iranian reformers. what we can do, and i meant to do, is to show the world that the reformers have good prospects for success. i would certainly be much happier if it happened sooner rather than later.



I Agree with Bijan and Kourosh

by Anonymous111 on

This regime cannot be reformed.  It cnanot be changed from a theocracy to democracy.  It just won't allow it.  The past three weeks have been a perfect example of this brutal policy.  This actually is a repeat of the 1980's purge.  If you think about it, the early 1980's saw the power struggle between various revolutionary forces, such as the MKO, the mullahs and various other groups that brought about the 1979 revolution.  The mullahs at that time became victorious by brut force.  The same thing is happening now, but with a different twist.  There is a power struggle, but it's between different factions of the same Mullarchy.  So, they're going back to the tried and effective tactic and are supressing the dissent with brut force, just like they did in the 1980's.

As I said below, this whole idea that we should just be patient and the IRI will somehow, over time, turn into some sort of a democractic utopia is a total fantasy.  We were fed this idea time and time again by various western residing (but yet westophobic), leftist, out of touch idiologues who still want to sacrifice the Iranian people for the sake of their idiology.  These people will get laughed out of a cab in Iran if they start talking about Iran being a regional power and Israel and "the struggle" and the U.S., blah, blah, blah....people in Iran have much more practical things on their minds, such as not being beaten for their "hejab" not being compliant, or being able to peacefully demonstrate without ending up in Evin.  Trust me, unlike these people, I have been there very recently and I have seen what people are talking about.

This regime is essentially a military dictatorship (regardless of the fact that the guy in charge is a mullah).  Therefore, the only possible change can come from inside their own military aparatus.  Perhaps some day there will be coup by a cadre of more progressive thinking Revolutionary Guards that may bring about change.  Otherwise, I see no hope for this pie in the sky fantasy of "people power" bringing about gradual change.  After all, the regime has all the guns---and for the past three weeks they have shown the world that they are won't hesitate to use them. 


I don't concur Nilou

by Anonym7 (not verified) on

"Concessions to the opposition at this crucial juncture would elevate the leadership’s position and palatability both at home and abroad. Freedom of the press; removing repressive social and ..."

Nilou, those are good, but not crucial. The main issue for majority of Makhmalis and non-Makhmalies in the election was and is economy. IF (a big IF), Khamenei faction manages to push more of those middle class Iranians that were driven to poverty mainly by Rafsanjanie's "liberals", out of poverty, it will succeed.
Personally I hope Ahmadinejad stays away from Holocaust and addresses the economy, preventing a holocaust (Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life, especially by fire.) in Iran.


Most revolutions do not

by asd (not verified) on

Most revolutions do not start with common men wanting change. The American revolution was led by the most educated and the brightest.

Why should an uneducated, self-serving, moftkhor who are only interested in lining their own pocket decide the fate of a nation?


I concur

by KouroshS on

I agree with Bijan's point and i think that he hit the nail right on the head. I hope I won't get chastised by saying this, But there is no way that you can Reform this regime or even begin to ponder anything remotely close to such a thing. I might be repeating what has been said here by many, But by now, It should be clear to those who even cling the slightest chances of seeing any form of change in this society and under this system of government,and  that a dictatorship has no interest in reforming itself.

I Disagree with the list of questions that Dariush brought up in his comment , especially for one where he thinks that the IRI still can protect those who want to protest peacefully. Really? If such was the case, why not implementing such protective strategies from day one and not letting this issuse reach such disatrous proportions? That goes to show you that there actually are people who not just based on their training, but based on their own strong beliefs in the system, would not stop at doing anything to suppress those who opposed the system.

The side that argues for a regime change and those who think reform within the regime is feasible, are at an impasse. I don't think that anyone is presenting a clear case for that matter.

Granted that force seems to be the most common tactic to counter this regimeI  believe that one of the main things that prevents the "believers in reform" to not agree with a regime change, is that an armed conflict or an outside millitary invasion against the mollahs will come at a great price for our people, undoubtedly, and the problem is that these people do not see any viable alternatives being proposed , in which case they would join in and would work to wipe iri off iran's map.

Am i wrong?


David ET

Dear Niloufar

by David ET on

First I must emphasise that I have enjoyed your articles and your view points

My new blog would compliment my comments earlier: //



Bijan A M

Ms. Parsi and Mr. Dariush

by Bijan A M on

Do you in all honesty and sincerely believe that there is a peaceful path from theocracy to democracy? Or, do you really think there exist such a system as Islamic (religious) “democracy”?

I don’t really mean disrespect, but such belief either stems from extreme naivety or deceitful intents. I am by no means advocating violence but I believe there is no other way to get rid of theocracy but violence. Whether now is the right time and the conditions are mature enough for acceptance of a secular democracy, I’m not sure.  But, to pacify any movement with the false hope of peaceful transition into their dreams is the height of deceit.

I realize we are sitting outside and don’t have our lives on the line, but there are many with god given gift of leadership who can support the movement by organizing groups, societies, get together, etc within Iran to better educate the masses (not just the students). The students are the leaders in the field.  It may take a while but the current movement has proven that the seed of freedom has already germinated. All we need is to water it, nourish it and propagate it. Please don’t slow down or abort the enthusiasm in the name of peace. Let them re-group underground and bring the movement to its maturity. I have been told by many on this site that leader(s) eventually will emerge.

I realize that the debates on this site have minimal or no influence or impact on what is happening in Iran, but still it disheartens me to sell the false hope of morphing IRI into a secular democracy. As odd as it may sound, I believe it was a blessing for freedom movement that the reformists lost. The movement will thrive more vigorously.


همان کاری که اسرائیل با مجروحان غزه و آمبولانس‌ها کرد ولایت فقیه

Anony3 (not verified)

همان کاری که اسرائیل با مجروحان غزه و آمبولانس‌ها کرد ولایت فقیه با مجروحان تظاهرات در تهران کرد. فاشیشت‌های دینی در ایران و اسرائیل پیوندتان مبارک!!

نام حکومت ولایت سفیه به عنوان یکی‌ از وحشیترین حکومت های ضد انسانی در اول قرن بیست یکم

در برابر یک حرکت عظیم آزادی خواهانه ثبت شد.

اعترافات فرمانده سپاه تهران:سردار سرتیپ عبدالله عراقی:
وی با ابراز تاسف از این که بعضی از اغتشاشگران حتی مجروحان را از
آمبولانس پیاده کردند و او را شهید نمودند، گفت:«در روز 31 خرداد نیروهای
بسیج تهران بزرگ در همه میادین و مقرها مستقر شدند، اما هیچ حادثه ای و
برخوردی در این روز روی نداد، بعد از آن روز نیز آشوبگران می خواستند در
میادینی مانند بهارستان تجمع کنند و همچنین زنجیره انسانی تشکیل دهند که
موفق نشدند.

این یک اعتراف روشن در رابطه با کشتن مجروحان حین انتقال به بیمارستان است. به این ترتیب مزدوران حکومت حتی اصول کنوانسیون ژنو در مورد اسرای جنگی را در مورد مردمی که در تظاهرات مسالمت آمیز برای احقاق حقوق خود شرکت کرده بودند رعایت نکردند.

مزدوران، فکر کنند، به کجا میروند!!!


نام حکومت

Anony4 (not verified)

نام حکومت ولایت سفیه به عنوان یکی‌ از وحشیترین حکومت های ضد انسانی در اول قرن بیست یکم

در برابر یک حرکت عظیم آزادی خواهانه ثبت شد.

اعترافات فرمانده سپاه تهران:سردار سرتیپ عبدالله عراقی:
وی با ابراز تاسف از این که بعضی از اغتشاشگران حتی مجروحان را از
آمبولانس پیاده کردند و او را شهید نمودند، گفت:«در روز 31 خرداد نیروهای
بسیج تهران بزرگ در همه میادین و مقرها مستقر شدند، اما هیچ حادثه ای و
برخوردی در این روز روی نداد، بعد از آن روز نیز آشوبگران می خواستند در
میادینی مانند بهارستان تجمع کنند و همچنین زنجیره انسانی تشکیل دهند که
موفق نشدند.

این یک اعتراف روشن در رابطه با کشتن مجروحان حین انتقال به بیمارستان است. به این ترتیب مزدوران حکومت حتی اصول کنوانسیون ژنو در مورد اسرای جنگی را در مورد مردمی که در تظاهرات مسالمت آمیز برای احقاق حقوق خود شرکت کرده بودند رعایت نکردند.

مزدوران، فکر کنند، به کجا میروند!!!

Niloufar Parsi

Thank you Dariush

by Niloufar Parsi on

you have captured the essence of the sentiment. it is not too late now, but it could be soon if things don't change.

A very important new development:


بیانیه مجمع مدرسین و محققین حوزه علمیه قم در اعتراض به تأیید دهمین انتخابات
ریاست جمهوری اسلامی ایران از سوی شورای نگهبان

بسم الله
الرحمن الرحیم

ملت شریف

سرانجام شورای نگهبان دهمین انتخابات ریاست جمهوری ایران را بدون
توجه به استدلالات کاندیداهای معترض و اعتراضات بحق مردم و دلسوزی های علماء و
مراجع و احزاب و مشفقان نظام، به گمان این که اظهارنظر آنان غائله را ختم می کند،
رسماً تأیید و سلامت آن را اعلام کرد و حتی برخی از آنها سلامت این انتخابات را در
سی سال گذشته بی نظیر توصیف نمودند.

شورای نگهبانی که برخی از اعضاء فقها و حقوقدانهای آنان از ماههای
قبل اظهار نظر کرده و بی­طرفی خود را در انظار مردم مخدوش نموده بودند در صورتی که
داور و قاضی اگر در رابطه با پرونده ای طرفداری کرده باشد، حق قضاوت در آن را

جای شگفتی است انتخاباتی که در برابر چشم همگان از بیت المال جهت
ترویج یکی از کاندیداها بطور وسیع استفاده می شد و در مقام جمع آوری رأی از امکانات
دولتی بهره بردرای شد.

رسانه ملی به بهانه های مختلف در ترویج و تبلیغ تبیض آمیز به نفع
یک کاندیدا دائماً در تلاش بود.

از سویی چهره های خدوم انقلاب و نظام برای مخدوش کردن کاندیداهای
دیگر مورد هجمه قرار گرفتند و شگفتا که قوه قضائیه هیچ واکنشی از خود بروز نداد و
حتی به همان مقدار در رسانه ملی حق دفاع به آنان داده نشد.

ناظرین کاندیداها که قانوناً باید پیش از مهر و موم کردن صندوق ها
تا نهایت تجمیع آراء حضور می داشتند در اکثر صندوقها بعد از مهر و موم صندوق ها
اجازه ورود به آنان داده شد و در بسیاری از صندوقها نماینده ای از آنان را
نپذیرفتند و در هنگام تجمیع آراء اساسا اجازه حضور نداشتند و در نتیجه با اضافه
بودن تعداد آراء مأخوذه با بیش از واجدین شرایط آراء مواجه بودیم. با شتاب بسیار
متأسفانه در اعلام نتایج از حیثیت رهبری نیز سرمایه گذاری شد.

با توجه به شکایات زیاد و دلایل محکمی که کاندیداهای دیگر داشتند،
به آنان توجه نشد. در فضایی کاملا امنیتی، صدای حق طلبی مردم را که توأم با آرامش
بود، به خشونت کشیدند. و متأسفانه با دهها کشته و زخمی و بازداشت غیرقانونی صدها
نفر مواجه شدیم، مطبوعات و روزنامه ها یکی پس از دیگری تعطیل یا سانسور شدند،
سایتها فیلتر گردید و حتی بر خلاف اصل 25 قانون اساسی تلفن های همراه و پیامک های
مردم نیز روزها قطع گردید و هنوز در تهران وصل نشده است. تعجب از این است که وزارت
ارتباطات از خود سلب مسئولیت می کند و مسئولیت آن را به عهده دیگران قرار می­دهد.

با همه این اشکالات آیا می شود مشروعیت انتخابات را به صرف تأیید
شورای نگهبان پذیرفت؟ آیا با این وضعیت می توان دولت برآمده از این همه تخلفات را
مشروع دانست؟

آیا دولت می تواند به عنوان نماینده مردم در اموال و سرنوشت آنان
دخالت نماید؟


مجمع مدرسین و محققین حوزه علمیه قم ضمن تشکر از همه مردمی که در
صحنه حضور یافتند و مصایب و سختی های بسیار را تحمل نمودند بویژه آنان که عزیزانشان
را از دست دادند یا آسیب هایی دیدند و سختی هایی دیدند و یا دستگیر شدند. خود را در
مصایب و گرفتاریهای آنان شریک می داند و به روان پاک شهیدان مظلوم حوادث اخیر درود
می فرستد و همواره خود را در کنار مردم می داند.

و از کانیداهای محترمی که حقوقشان ضایع گردید خصوصاً از جناب آقای
مهندس میرحسین موسوی نخست وزیر خدوم دوران دفاع مقدس و جناب حجت الاسلام و المسلمین
کروبی یار قدیمی امام راحل(ره) و همه آنان که از حقوق مردم دفاع می کنند بویژه از
مراجع معظم تقلید و علمای بزرگوار حوزه های علمیه، تشکر می نماید و از خداوند متعال
برای همه آنان طول عمر با عزت و شوکت مسألت دارد.

و درخواست عاجزانه ما از علمای اعلام و بزرگان دین این است که در
این مصیبت بزرگ که حیثیت به دست آمده از دهها هزار خون شهدای عزیز و زحمات طاقت
فرسای ایثارگران جانبازان و هدایت و حمایت روحانیت مبارز به ویژه رهبر کبیر انقلاب
حضرت امام خمینی(ره) در معرض خطر جدی است، با احساس مسئولیتی که همواره داشته اند
باز هم اقدام مناسب را انجام دهند. چرا که سرنوشت حوزه و علما با سرنوشت نظام گره
خورده است و اگر مردم نظام را در برابر خود بدانند قطعاً روحانیت و حوزه­ها را در
برابر خود می دانند در حالی که به گواه تاریخ، عالمان شیعه به پیروی از مولای خود
همواره خصم ظالم و عون و یاور مظلوم بوده اند.

همچینین از قوه قضائیه می خواهیم هرچه زودتر افراد دستگیر شده در
اجتماعات آرام را آزاد کند و عاملان و آمران ضرب و شتم­ها، قتلها و تخریب های کوی
دانشگاه و جاهای دیگر را شناسایی و مجازات نماید.

مجمع مدرسین و
محققین حوزه علمیه قم



I don't think "it is not too

by Dariush (not verified) on

I don't think "it is not too late" is such a bad idea.

I think it is not too late to free all the political prisoners.

I think it is not too late to have another election.

I think it is not too late to let more intelligent candidates to run for the position.

I think it is not too late for justice, human rights and freedom.

I think it is not too late to organize a better campaign and train the demonstrators how a peaceful demonstration works and protect the public.

I think it is not too late for government to protect the demonstrators and allow them hold peaceful demonstrations instead of crackdown.

Do you think it is too late for IRI to do what people were asking for?
If it is too late for the system as a whole, what choices do they have? Leave the power and kill more.
Which choice do you think they will choose?

I think it is not too late to make better decisions and cut the losses. Because what seems too late today may be different six months from now.

I also think khamenei and Ahmadinejad have made some of the worst decisions and it is not too late for them to do the right thing and step down. They turned an embarrassment to murder. There is no need to turn the murder to civil war or genocide. They must understand Iranians didn't fight east, west, shah and others for the hell of it. They fought for justice, freedom, independence and a better life for all Iranians. Clearly that is not what Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are standing for.

I may be wrong, I may be right. These are what I sensed from Niloufar parsi's writing.

Thanks David ET for your rational responds, I enjoyed reading them.