The Iranian political map consists of three major factions. To the "left" there are the moderate conservatives who were represented in the election by Mousavi. In the “centre”, there are the conventional conservatives led by certain figures from the clerical hierarchy as well as prominent businessmen. Finally, there is the “radical right” as embodied in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Council (IRGC), to which Ahmadinejad belongs. Above all these three factions, sits the supreme leader, manipulating the strings that control the equilibrium between them.
With the tacit support of the Islamic Republic, a number of organizations have been cultivated to expound the Islamic regime’s policy abroad. These pro-Islamic regime lobby organizations such as CAIR, CASMII, AIC, NIAC, IAPAC, CFR and PAAIA are attempting to manipulate, influence and pressure, both the U.S policy makers as well as the European Union’s, in favor of the Islamic Republic. In reality, these groups main objective has been to prolong diplomacy long enough until the IRI is beyond the point of return with its nuclear program.
Realizing the doomsday of the hardliners getting closer with each passing day, the lobbyists have changed course and have started supporting Mousavi, yet playing the devil’s advocate. With slogans such as “the Unites States should negotiate with Iran,” or “Mullahs are pragmatic bunch when it comes to foreign policy,” they were successful at convincing the Clinton administration, to some degree the Bush administration, but to a much greater extent, the Obama administration that they should consider negotiating with the mullahs without any pre-conditions regarding the nuclear and other issues.
Lobbyists directly were behind the President Obama “Nowruz” message to the Islamic Republic and thereafter, his famous Cairo’s message to the Muslim world. This was seen as legitimizing the Islamic Republic by many Iranians. With incessant overtures from Obama to appease the mullahs and invite them to the negotiation table, Iranians became very frustrated and angry. Whether they supported Mousavi or Ahmadinejad, Obama was willing to talk to either camp. They were hoping Obama to make human rights a priority, while Obama focused on the nuclear issue. The Islamic Republic leads all other nations on human rights violations except for China.
Even though the Islamic Republic, as a member of the United Nations, gives pretence of democratic processes and adherence to human rights principles, the harsh reality is that the Islamic Republic has never had the intention of being a democracy. There is no room for Public in the Islamic Republic. A closer read of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic reveals that all real power lies with the Supreme Leader and safeguards a pure Muhammadan Shi’a Islamic principle.
Iranian presidents do not have a say in major decisions within the power structure which favors a Caliphate style government (a form of government inspired by interpretations of the religion of Islam). But having a president gives a pretense of a democratic system for outside consumption and propaganda.
In order for the regime to cloak the iniquitous tilt towards the theocratic supremacy over the people, mullahs have resorted to all sorts of contrived tactics to justify their actions. The Islamic Republic pretends that people actually have a voice in Iran’s affairs. It holds sham elections. But even though, it is called elections, the constitution’s hegemony is present. The supreme leader approves peoples’ elected choice and can dismiss the president at anytime he deems it necessary.
Iran is not a monolithic society. It is a country of various religious and ethnic minorities. However, only candidates from the Shi’a sect are eligible to become president. Even though women attempt to participate, it is abundantly clear they are not invited. Only candidates with proven track record of murder, arrests, rapes and torture and with allegiance to the revolution are allowed to run. Yet, out of this select group of criminals, only a few head-picked criminals like Karoobi, Mousavi, Rezaei and Ahmadinejad were authorized to run this year. The Iranian people, in reality, were given an option to choose the best of the worst to run the affairs of their country. Obviously, people have eschewed such rigged elections and inevitably the government has resorted to various tricks to lure them back in.
Iranians are very proud of their glorious pre-Islamic Iran and its rich history and culture, a country where Cyrus the Great once ruled. Prior to 7th Century Arab conquest, the Iranian empire stretched from India to Greece. The Persian literature is filled with romance, nightingale, rose gardens, music, poetry, wine and enjoying what life has to offer. Iranians do not see themselves as part of the Middle East and do not identify with their Arab neighbors.
The Arabs who sallied out of the Arabian deserts did not fan out to the outside world with the Quran in one hand and flowers in the other, preaching love and peace from street corner to street corner, thereby capturing the hearts and minds of the people. Islam was forced upon the invaded at the point of the sword and the imposition of backbreaking jazyyeh (special taxes) levied on those who were spared death and allowed to retain their religious beliefs. In spite of paying heavy Jazyyeh, the non-Muslims were treated, at best, as second class citizens in their own homelands.
As a nation with more advanced sciences, architecture, literature and culture, Iranians not only resisted the Arab influence at every opportunity but attempted to mutate the invaders customs to suit their purpose. They even branched out Sunni Islam to include the Shi’a version.
It is noteworthy that Zoroastrianism was the official religion of all Persian kings, yet it was never forced onto the non-Zoroastrian subjects of the Persian Empire. Of all the great Aryan Kings of Iran (Iran means "Land of the Aryans"), Cyrus the Great, more than 2500 years ago, represented the true embodiment of Zoroastrian beliefs. Cyrus attributed his conquests to Ahuramazda, the Creator of Life and Wisdom, the One and only God of the Universe. This Zoroastrian King and his descendants, who called themselves Aryans (not to be associated with the false and negative connotations during WWII), which literally means "Nobles," freed the Jews from the captivity in Babylon (present-day Iraq) and assisted them in re-building their Temple in Jerusalem. For his noble act, Cyrus is praised in the Hebrew Old Testament as the "Anointed of the Lord", a title never before given to any gentile, past or present. "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden" (Isaiah 45:1). Thus Cyrus, an Iranian of Persian lineage and a follower of Zoroastrianism was immortalized in history.
Contrary to what mullahs might make you believe, Iranians have always had a fascination with the west and love America and the American ideals. Immediately after the news of September 11 attacks reached Iran, they poured onto the streets with candle light vigils to show solidarity with the American people in time of their grief, in contrast to the Palestinians who were cheering and dancing on the streets when they heard of the tragic event which killed more than 3,000 innocent people.
In adherence to Sharia laws, during the thirty years of the Islamic Republic, many basic liberties were taken away from the people. In general, Sharia law favor men and treats women as second class citizens. Music was banned in public. Happy colors were replaced by black in memory of Shi’a Martyrs. Consumption of alcoholic beverages was forbidden. However, Iranians have resisted the Sharia’s influence at every opportunity. More alcoholic beverages are consumed in Iran than prior to revolution. There are more singers and more songs are written now than before the revolution. Despite the strict Islamic dress code, Iranian women have defied it at every opportunity.
Having a person of Ahmadinejad’s caliber, often with spur-of-the-moment remarks on the world stage, has been rather embarrassing and humiliating to most educated Iranians. Disillusioned by the Islamic Republic’s broken promises year after year, they had opted to boycott the elections to send a message to the rest of world in this past election. Mullahs realizing the danger; contrived something new: for the first time in its history, they allowed open debates where candidates could challenge each other on the state-run television which was viewed by millions of Iranians. The Iranians heard from candidates’ own mouths the level of arrogance, ineptitude, and corruption which further infuriated them. The majority is claimed to have voted for Mousavi. Those who voted for him did so out of frustration and unfulfilled promises of the revolution. One might argue that their vote was NO to the entire establishment.
Anticipating a not so favorable election outcome, but determined to inflict the world with the light of Islam, Ahmadinejad in collaboration with the IRGC and the Supreme Leader saw no choice but a coup d’état. Soon after the elections, Ahmadinejad met with Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi (a powerful leading clergy and spiritual advisor to Ahmadinejad) and several other religious leaders in Qom and assured them of his plan and its successful implementation. Later, he met with Putin to secure his support. All was going according to the plan, until few missteps during and right after the elections led to the uprising.
Disillusioned by the Supreme Leader who supported Ahmadinejad in a rigged election, brave Iranians decided to take matters into their own hands. They poured onto the streets of Tehran and large provinces en masse. Their peaceful demonstrations within the restrictive confines of the regime, to demand a fair vote count, received a cruel and lethal reaction from Khamenei and his plain-clothed Basij militia and Hamas and Hizbollah hired thugs. They demonstrated in millions, chanting “Where is my vote?” and “God is great!” (Not necessarily a religious slogan) but an astute defiance of a religious regime. Slogans soon were changed to “Death to the dictator” meaning Ahmadinejad.
The exiled opposition groups and Iranians living abroad, witnessing the courageous and brave acts of the Iranian youths, supported them by massive demonstrations and elevated their chants to “Down with the Islamic Republic.”
Emboldened by massive demonstrations and expressions of support by the exiled oppositions groups and the world reaction to unjust and brutal treatment of youths who simply wanted their votes counted, the slogans matured to cross the red line, something unimaginable: “Death to the dictator”, this time Khamenei being the target. What is even more interesting is that Iranian youths for the first time decided not to follow the regime’s customary slogans of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” when directed by the Basij on Friday prayers following Rafsanjani’s speech. They defied the status quo and chanted their own slogans: “Death to Russia.” When a Basij directed them from his loudspeaker to chant “Death to Israel,” the brave youths chanted back “Death to Putin.”
Most Iranians have a passion for America and what it has symbolized for them. They do not see Israel as their enemy but rather as a natural ally in the Middle East. The slogan that was recently chanted echoed the ultimate intentions of the Iranian people: “Independence, Freedom, and Iranian Republic.”
As for the claim that CIA meddling plays into mullahs hands, the Iranian regime will claim that regardless. The mullahs have already blamed demonstrations on the CIA, Israel and MEK to suit their purposes. Lobbyists have been at work and have tried to portray demonstrators as Mousavi supporters. However, in reality, demonstrations and slogans are simply cries of frustrated freedom loving youths yearning for a more modern and better life style and opportunities that an Islamic form of a government is not willing to offer. In truth the Iranian people have already judged the regime and found it wanting.
It is anticipated that demonstration will continue and gain strengths if history provides any clues. Pro- democracy demonstrators have been very clever and have outmaneuvered highly trained Hamas and Hizbollah militias who have shown no sympathy for Iranians. Various civil disobedience techniques are being employed. Hamas and Hezbollah militias should be concerned, as tolerant as most Iranians are, they are sensitive about Arabs beating their brothers and arresting and raping their sisters in their own country. The crisis is far from over. Ahmadinejad government is faced with serious legitimacy crisis that will only worsen as hardliners continue their repressive policies.
Dr. Arash Irandoost is a pro-democracy activist who advocates Regime Change in Iran. He has been published in numerous magazines around the world as well as hundreds of Internet magazines, websites and blogs. He is also a researcher and literary translator and has been a strong voice for the struggling people of Iran. He blogs at //hakemiat-e-mardom.blogspot.com/.
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