Ahmadinejad’s Early Gamble

•July 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

There seems to be a debate within the system already with Ahmadinejad taking Esfandiar Rahim-Masha`i, the father of his daughter’s husband, as his 1st vice-president (There are over a dozen VPs in the executive, but only the first one can run cabinet meetings in place of the president).

mashaei

Khamenei does not like Masha`i, in fact he has railed against his comments once before the last time he gave the khutba for Friday prayer on September 19, 2008. He saw Masha`i’s words that the Iranian people are friends with the Israeli people as unacceptable as a state position and cleared the air during his speech:

“Someone has made a statement about people who live in Israel. This is of course a wrong statement. To say that we are friends with Israeli people, like other people, is not right. Who are Israeli people? They are those who are usurping houses, lands, farms and businesses. These people are those who play as extras in the Zionist land. Muslim nations cannot be indifferent about those who are the agents of essential enemies of the Islamic world. We don’t have any problem with the Jews, Christians and followers of other religions. But we have problem with the usurpers of the Palestinian land.

The usurper is not just the Zionist regime. This is the stance of our state, revolution and people. Someone may say something that may lead to certain reactions. The issue should be concluded at a point. It is not right for individuals to exchange views on the subject from here and there for a long time. This is sensationalism. A statement was made. It was wrong. Let us finish it now. The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran is not what was said. This [Israel] is different from other countries where its people are not living on usurped lands. Jewish settlements are filled today by the same people who are called Israeli people. They are those who the fake Zionist government has armed against Muslim Palestinian people. This is to scare off Palestinians from the settlements. A wrong statement was made. This should not be used as a means for sensationalism. I call on everybody not to sensationalize a statement made by someone for a long time. The stance of the state is clear, full stop.”(trans. by BBC Monitoring)

This goes to show that the reports that Khamenei does not like Masha`i, and has even written a letter to the executive to disallow his appointment, are most likely true.

It makes one wonder, with Ahmadi’s brash style of defiance, why the hell does Khamenei continue to bolt himself to this guy?! Does he have the gun to his head, so to speak, since Ahmadi is the IRGC’s guy? I’m always torn whether Khamenei has helped to orchestrate this new shift in the Islamic Republic, or if he is only a pawn being directed by the whims of the IRGC.

It doesn’t seem at all that Ahmadi would have power over Khamenei, but maybe his confidence is fortified since the IRGC has orchestrated his rise to power, and he knows that behind the scenes Khamenei’s authority is only held through the methods of coercion the IRGC employs.

If Ahmadi is flatly refusing to lay down to Khamenei on this, at least for the moment, does this say anything about who has the background monopoly of power?

Well, according to Masha`i (Farsi), people are only afraid of him because he stands a great chance at winning the 11th presidential election!! Oh man…

Sidenote: This short video of Mottaki is hilarious. At the end as he pushes the bullhorn away he says “sedaa mi resin”, ‘they hear me’, as he puts his hands up in frustration. Haha:

Challenge or Compromise?

•July 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Well this was a brilliant sermon (khutba) by Rafsanjani. While many will probably be disappointed because he did not push aggressively against the state discourse, his political strategy served the opposition in every way.

I feel this way for two reasons:

1. Not once did he make a reconciliatory comment towards the hardline opinion regarding this (s)election. He essentially laid out the opposition platform by calling for the release of prisoners; demanding respect for grievances towards the election, especially criticizing the Guardian Council’s handling of the aftermath; condemning media bias and requesting more media transparency within the law; and requiring adherence to the law (ie. the constitution, the Imam’s legacy to the people). This is the reformist platform!

While he does call for unity, none of these items are appeasing the hardline ideology or penitent to the supreme leader (rahbar).

He did not legitimize the election. Some would say, “Of course he didn’t, this is Rafsanjani, and his base is there watching, he can’t just do that”, but still he did not. Everybody else during each Friday prayer since the election has, yet Rafsanjani, chief of the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts (thus a top state bureaucrat) did not even come close to it.

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2. He was latent in his disregard for Khamenei’s (and Ahmadinejad’s) legitimacy. He never praised the leader as he usually does. He mentioned Khamenei once when saying something like ‘our respected leader asked the Guardian Council to review the election and they squandered their chance’. This is a reference to the position of the rahbar, but certainly not support for Khamenei, such that he usually gives.

Go back and read Rafsanjani’s typical khutba and you will see his consistent referencing to the rahbar.

Also his lectures on al-salif al-salahi (‘pious ancestors’) were very telling. When he spoke of the Prophet’s emphasis on the peoples’ support he is directly connecting illegitimate rule with taghut.

Rafsanjani then says:

“The Imam [Khomeini] would always quote the Prophet who would say to ‘Ali [the first Shi’ite Imam]: leave the people if they do not want you.”

While this is veiled, to me it seems to call into question Khamenei’s legitimacy today. While ‘Ali did this for the stability of the ‘ummah, he never once relinquished his legitimacy to be the Prophet’s successor. In fact this is how the shi`at `Ali (partisans of ‘Ali, or Shi`iah) began.

Therefore, when Rafsanjani makes this mention he does not delegitimize the fact that the position of the rahbar is rightfully as the Amir al-Mu’minin (commander of the faithful), but that his legitimacy is based on support by the people.

And, whether right or wrong, “social fact” has it that the election that Khamenei fully backs were rigged and therefore do not have the support of even a small majority of the people.

Using Aristotelian syllogisms, so famously used within Shi`i theological discourse, the election was illegitimate and unaccepted by the people; Khamenei legitimized the elections; therefore Khamenei is illegitimate. If the two premises are granted the conclusion is tightly secure. Of course within an advanced logic class in the hawza much more highly developed theories of rhetorical technique are debated, but you get the point, the connection is made.

Therefore I do not think that even though Rafsanjani mentions that the election is behind us, that he is pushing the meat of the issues aside. He is challenging the new elite and the direction they want to take the revolution, and I still don’t see signs of real compromise on the reformist part, neither do I expect it.

Montazeri’s Fatwa: How Important Is It?

•July 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

This last weekend Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri issued a fatwa in response to one of his followers, a rather important follower by the name of Dr. Mohsen Kadivar, an ayatollah in exile.

In this fatwa Montazeri questions the legitimacy of Khamenei’s “unjust” rule. At one point he rhetorically asks: “How can one think that by resorting to force, injustice, and un-Islamic acts the Islamic system is preserved and reinforced?”

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Some see this as paramount to momentum of this movement (which seems to be resembling more and more a civil rights movement rather than a revolution). Yet others see this as overrated.

Prof. Juan Cole argues that Montazeri’s fatwa does not challenge the regime, but instead is only a continuation of his feud with Khamenei and his authority, something that goes back to Khamenei’s rise to the valiy-e faqih. Prof. Cole waves off its importance and declares that this fatwa “will not cause any surprise or make any special waves in Iran”.

I usually think Prof. Cole’s analysis on all things Shi’i is superior (in fact in grad school I relied on many of his texts to inform me on my theses), but this time I believe his reading is too narrow.

What’s being missed here is the means not the ends of this fatwa. Prof. Cole is looking inside the box at the instrumental nature of political fatwas that inspire movements, thinking more about what it will do for the people, or its direct impact on the regime. What he is missing is how the discussion will affect the religious establishment in Qom (or even what it could signal to the hawza in Najaf).

I see this fatwa having more effect on Qom than on the Islamic Republic neofundamental elite or the rahbar. What this fatwa does is ever-so-slightly pry open the discourse in Qom regarding the legitimacy of Khamenei’s leadership.

Now there is a theological principle to discuss and argue in the Shi’i tradition based on an influential marja’ al-taqlid‘s religious decree. If such an influential ayatollah al-uzma issues an edict delegitimizing Khamenei’s leadership based on the regime’s “un-Islamic” practices, lesser ayatollahs, instructors, seminary students, etc., can now flush these ideas out on a theological basis more and more.

His carefully constructed fatwa can cause cracks, cracks that may only be hairline from their inception, but can develop into crevices. Even possibly influencing other senior grand ayatollahs to answer their followers’ and students’ questions more directly like Montazeri did (maybe even those influential leaders outside of Iran, like Sistani who has large swaths of followers inside Iran).

We’ll have to watch for major crackdown in Qom which will signal to us whether Montazeri’s prying open of the discourse actually amounts to something important, but I believe this is where the fatwa’s weight really lies.

So Prof. Cole is right to say that Montazeri’s fatwa won’t necessarily bring millions more into the street, or bring about strikes and bureaucratic subversion immediately, if this was his aim he would have come right out and called for this. But what it can do is open the discussion a little amongst the ‘ulema, maybe enough to insight discourse on Khamenei’s legitimacy, something which, back in the days of the status quo, would never had transpired so openly.

Rafsanjani’s Only Option

•June 24, 2009 • 1 Comment

So most people think there are 4 options to what will happen in the end:

1) The regime falls to a revolution

2) The protester’s hopes of any change are smashed, and the true hijack sustains

3) Rafsanjani concedes to the new status quo to save his hide

4) Rafsanjani’s “behind the curtain” (posht-e padeh) maneuvers develop a sustainable compromise between center-right/reformist left governance and the neofundamental right, that has so obviously hijacked the IRI.

Iran is not a country to bet on, that’s for sure. In fact, it is easy to depend on precedent, even though the regime surprises you each time. For instance, so many of us thought that the wave of support from Mousavi could actually result in a turnover in the republican institution the IRI’s constitution refers to as the ‘president’. But this election showed us that we fell for the hype. We took the precedence of 2 khordad (the landslide victory of Khatami in ’97) and assume that it could happen again with a wave of popular support similar, and a 70%+ voter turnout.rafsanjani

But we ignored all the signs, especially all the ones I mentioned in my last post, and many have mentioned before me. We failed to see that this all-out offensive from the neofundamentalists, starting back in Khatami’s first term, began with the elimination of liberal Khatami supporter, Tehrani mayor Karbaschi. Since then concessions from the intense hardliners have been minuscule at best, and the onslaughts have been vigorous.

But I am prepared now… prepared to be cynical.

Only one person is preventing me from doing this: Rafsanjani. His actions and redirectioning of the Islamic Republic post-Khomeini is what opened up the path to Khatami, and expectations of civil society today.

Without his balancing, and concessions to the liberal left, rationalized power would not have taken place so successfully within the establishment.

And his silence, and absence at Friday prayer when Khamenei spoke (completely rare in and of itself) keeps us all on the edge of our seats.

Therefore, if I had to bet, I DO NOT believe that Rafsanjani will fold and side 100% with Khamenei. This new neofundamentalist revolution, so evident in the egregious disregard of the republican laws set forth in the IRI’s constitution, completely sidelines the pragmatists, especially Rafsanjani.

Rafsanjani is known to save his hide and follow which way the wind blows. During his presidency he was known as one who steers between the left and the right smoothly in order to appease enough people to maintain his credibility and stature.

But this is not the same AT ALL. If he rolls over to the neofundamentalists it would be a complete acceptance of the new direction of the IRI, a direction which represents the antithesis of what Rafsanjani has dedicated about 20 years of his political life transforming.

It would represent a capitulation to the man whom Rafsanjani has spent more political capital to try and break: Ahmadinejad.

It would destroy a political career that the man has spent 30-40 years developing. He will not mollify his stature for the easy excuse of “saving the Revolution”, but will instead expend all of the political capital he’s got the try and ‘save’ the path he has always believed the IRI needs to go in.

Whether his motivation is a means-end gamble to save his clout or not, he is absolutely invested in preserving his influence.

He has spoken before of the desire for a shura council rather than one supreme jurist. He sides with the movement he set the kindling for way back during his presidency.

Can he convince a majority of the Assembly of Experts to determine Khamenei is unfit for duty, then get them to agree on a shura council, then get the people (including himself) elected that he wants in power? This would be a gigantic undertaking.

But can he convince clerical elites, even opposition celebrities like Ayatollah Montazeri who hates Rafsanjani because of old time squabbles, to begin a theological opposition movement? Maybe…

It may expend any and all political capital he has left, but if he does it, the regime will survive sans a monopoly of neofundamentalist power. This is something that apparently civil society demands, and pragmatic elites covet.

Therefore I would bet on option #4 above. The others have there merit in certain instances, and I could probably argue convincingly that either of them could happen. But I think Rafsanjani has the political capital to make something work, whether it’s some kind of compromise that involves Mousavi himself I can’t guess, but a compromise that satisfies the old elites is certainly in the works.

But I wish I had real answers here, but like all of you, I only get to pine about it in my head and wait… Sitting on my hands…

PS. R.I.P. ندا Neda Soltani

The New Dynamics of the Islamic Revolution: How Did We Get Here?

•June 24, 2009 • 5 Comments

The dynamic are more and more interesting as days go on. Even though the streets have settled quite a bit, things are still boiling.

Meanwhile, I wonder about the state dynamics, and how we got to this point. To do this I separated myself from the incredibly fluid news coming out of Iran to think of a theoretical framework and historical genealogy to this sharp re-directioning that the neoconservative (not to be confused with US neoconservative) elites in Iran have decided to take this country. It helps to disconnect from the massive information to think about what has happened too.

Anyway, here are my musings:

The factional crevices within the revolutionary system have now turned into major fault lines. As years of, to use Max Weber’s terminology, “rationalization”, a sociological term describing the overtaking of traditional social behaviors for more calculated and efficient means, has taken place since Khomeini’s charismatic leadership ended in ‘89. Especially leaders of the pragmatic right, such as Rafsanjani and Mousavi, along with those of the more liberal reformists like Khatami and Karroubi (frankly, all of those who have been in power of the republican institutions from ’89-’05), the state had been ‘de-revolutionizing’ its approaches and its functioning ideology. Sure there was still heavy zeal on the skin of the system, often ideological columns that hold up the revolutionary ideology, and of course zealots were still well entrenched in many places, like the judiciary for instance, but the republican institutions were awakening from the days of being a rubber stamp for Khomeini’s initiatives.

During the ‘90’s and early part of next decade there was essentially a dampening of religious rhetoric, and a turn away from traditional governance through revolutionary institutions and charismatic authority. The customary methods were exchanged for governance through the republican institutions and a moderation of extremist discourse that was heavy during the years the revolution consolidated.

As Rafsanjani took the reins of the state he took the lead in recreating Iran after years of chaos and war, giving him his title of the “Commander of Constructiveness” (sardar-e sazandeghi). The then-weakness of Khamenei, who Rafsanjani had basically made the supreme leader, allowed Rafsanjani to take on Khomeini’s legacy (khatt-e Imam) and set the direction and principles of the Islamic Republic.

During these imperative days for the continuation of the revolution after Khomeini’s death, Rafsanjani was able to combine support from the economic conservatives, with his privatization and opening of the economy, with the liberal left that accepted his sociocultural opening (especially with his appointment of Khatami as the Minister of Islamic Guidance) and realist foreign policy aims. Initially Rafsanjani was able to steer down the middle, often succeeding in remaining neutral in conflicts between the right and left because he had interests invested in both sides.

But as these balances broke apart the hardline conservatives began to oppose Rafsanjani’s, and next Khatami’s, route. These concepts of civil society (jahm’eh-e madari) were being juxtaposed to the hardline submission to the ultimate authority of the jurist regardless of the republican institutions (jahm’eh-e velayi). Additionally, these reformists’ alienation of the traditional segments of society, through government centralization and bringing in experienced technocrats rather than appointing only people with “religious credentials”, began to marginalize previous power brokers.

Although for the most part Rafsanjani sided with his conservative base, his later years were primarily concerned with creating a foundation of power for his pragmatic-right faction, gaining allies on both sides, and eventually raising his banner carefully behind popular reform, and creating a momentum that gained Khatami his popular support.

But while these factional political disputes, his Realpolitiking, and his agenda of building strong government centralization helped to develop a functioning state built off of the original days of the revolution, what was happening on a meta-level was a complete restructuring of the revolution’s methods of doing business.

The rational consequences of this de-revolutionization soon grew incompatible with the Islamic Republic’s radical ideological roots (Max Weber presented this framework regarding Calvinist embrace of capitalism in his The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism). This did not happen over night of course, and is actually still happening, as a lot of heavily worded zeal remained in the language of the state, as both sides used Khomeini and the revolution to bolster their agendas.

This is where Iran’s neoconservatives reenter the stage. Even back when Rafsanjani began to steer the state in his direction, figures like Ahmad Jannati, today’s chief of the Guardian Council, opposed Rafsanjani’s de-revolutionization, along with the middle generation of post-war revolutionaries, or the Hezbollahis, he was marginalizing, dubbing it a westernization of the Islamic Republic.

When the conservative right had originally accepted Rafsanjani’s emphasis on a type of rule of law and “economic liberalization”, as years went by, his allowance of the left’s sociocultural openness, which spread to Khatami’s election on 2 khordad in ’97, alienated their cultural identification of the ‘true’ Islamic Republic.

Simultaneously Khamenei’s power was growing. In fact, Khamenei was structuring the loyalty of many key regime figures to bolster his power in state apparatuses such as the hajj organization, the richest bonyads (charitable foundations), the Qom seminary, and the IRGC.

When he was first chosen to be the leader, or rahbar, his authority was weak religiously and politically. But by the time the latter part of Khatami’s presidency came about, Khamenei had secured his legal (Guardian Council, Assembly of Experts, and Judiciary) and extra-legal (IRGC, basijis, bonyads) power bases, and the offensive against pragmatic conservatism and liberal leftism began swiftly with the arrest and conviction of Tehran’s mayor Karbaschi and the impeachment of two of Khatami’s ministers.

Thus, the engineering of Ahmadinejad’s election in ’05, the Majlis next, and the 22 khordad elections just this month, reveals a complete reconnection with what the neoconservative Jannatis, Mesbah-Yazdis, Ahmadinejads, Khameneis, Rayshahris, Ja’afaris, etc., believe to be the true path and legacy of Imam Khomeini.

Essentially before, the perceived over-rationalization and bureaucratic centralization alienated the traditional patronage system that the early years of the revolution provided. The lower-social strata took the backseat again for efficiency and instrumental, means-ends, social rationalization.

But unfortunately for the new bureaucrats/old pragmatic elites those segments marginalized are the militarized ones and Khamenei knew this.

Famous sociologist Max Weber, referencing the traditional Christian societies he studied, stated this process more clearly:

“Rationalization destroyed the authority of magical powers [religion], but it also brought into being the machine-like regulation of bureaucracy, which ultimately challenges all systems of belief” (Weber, 1991).

‘Belief’ which, to the neoconservative militant element, is the foundation of the rahbar’s power, and therefore the system of velayat-e faqih.

Now, with a war veteran in the second most powerful position in the Republic again, patronage re-institutionalized in ’05 and continuing now with his reelection, and the Hezbollahi segment comfortable with Ahmadinejad’s activist continuation of the Islamic Revolution’s early ideals, Rafsanjani and his cohort realists are being pushed severely to the sidelines.

But what the regime didn’t expect was a reaction from the people. What this movement, and the regimes obvious surprise, shows is that the neoconservative elite rulers aren’t just anti-liberal, but that they are completely out of touch with a majority of the society they run.

Of course these neofundamental elites don’t care so much. But what they didn’t anticipate was a reaction to their marginalization of old elites, like Mousavi, Khatami, Karroubi, and Rafsanjani. They certainly foresaw the power struggle that would develop behind the scenes, but they did not anticipate that civil society too would be an actor in this drama. And what an actor it has proven to be.

So the question remains: Can the power of the citizenry, over time, prevent these elites’ marginalization in order to halt a complete overhaul of the Republic (producing a compromise), or will the new hijacking of the Republic remain in the hands of the militants?

We’ll just have to keep waiting to see…

Detractor

•June 23, 2009 • 2 Comments

It appears my logic (1+1= 2) does not match up with a townhall.com blogger. What a surprise, considering that the far-right’s broad brush strokes, particularly regarding political Islam and Iran, tend to be completely opposite of my worldview.

In a long blog post this author attacked my refutation of the meme that Ahmadinejad and Mousavi really did not present anything different, as far as policy goes regarding the US. I am told I am an “apoligist” [sic] and a “propagandist” because I was intellectually honest enough to write a post describing what benefit Mousavi offers opposed to Ahmadinejad.

(Oh, and I am vulgar too because I said that people who don’t understand the intricacies of the IRI’s history should “shut the hell up”…. I still do think that…)

This blogger, who identifies with the terrorist MEK group, appears to be an Israeli sympathizer who thinks he is blowing the whistle on ‘radicals’ (even Israel won’t go so far to ‘officially’ work with MEK). These type caught in their echo chambers like to see things in a strictly Manichean fashion, of good vs. evil. This is a strong draw for the simple minds that get locked down, thinking only in dichotomies, failing to see that really everything happens in the middle, not on the fringes. In fact, Israel itself knows this, as through the years, regarding the Islamic Republic, it has acted in several different ways, balancing a realist foreign policy with it’s periphery doctrine, sometimes even selling arms to Iran to help them face Israel’s closer proximity threats, such as Saddam’s Iraq. If of course things were so black and white Israel and the IRI could never have cooperated, as both are supposed to be the complete opposites of course.

Also, before the election this blogger was already whistle-blowing on Mousavi’s early career as prime minister, setting the stage for a new bogeyman since his, and other neoconservatives, ideological lines requires a bogeyman to uphold this binary, thesis-antithesis model, that helps Israel detract from its own repression of human beings (one doesn’t have to be an “apoligist” to agree with that). In fact prominent AIPAC speakers and Mossad’s chief openly admit that Ahmadinejad is better for Israel’s stance on Iran.

So really it wasn’t that my blog post was somehow too light on facts or that I truly am a Mousavi “apoligist”, it’s that he already agrees with the Israeli hardline (read: AIPAC) view that has worked in the past under Netanyahu: Get US policy makers focused on the Iranian “threat” and the Palestinian problem will take a back seat.

(It should be noted that this view of continuing the status quo regarding Palestinians falls flat on actually realizing a peaceful and legitimately safe existence for Israel and its people, while I do understand that a long, awful history of antisemitism makes it understandably hard to discuss this subject in a calm or dispassionate way, I believe that safety and security of Israel actually hinges on a new emphasis on finding solutions rather than bringing the scenario even closer to actual apartheid.)

With that being said, he is correct about Mousavi’s rhetoric against Israel during his premiership and his antipathy, as the sitting prime minister, to Khomeini’s mass executions. Never in my post did I EVER exonerate Mousavi for past actions as an IRI insider, nor did I lionize him as some savior. What I did was show the differences between Mousavi and Ahmadi in the light of how they present IRI foreign policy to the west, and there is a wide gulf between the two.

And if said blogger can find anything fanatical this supposed radical, artist and architect, turned reluctant politician has actually said or done since Khomeini’s charismatic authority ruled the days of the early revolution (the last 20 years!), please present them. As I showed in my legitimate Patrick Tyler Wa-Po article which he doubted (doesn’t townhall.com pay for you people to have LexisNexis or something to look these old articles up?) even then Mousavi did not sanction adventurist foreign policy, such as that desired by Ahmadi.

If you believe, as many do (including me more and more as I realize the IRGC and the Mesbah-Yazdi ideology have completely hijacked the direction of the IRI from the ever-rationalizing revolutionary founders Rafsanjani, Mousavi, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, etc., etc.) that the IRI is dead-set on acquiring a nuke, then you should feel more comfortable with a pragmatist than a radical to try and balance against this.

What scares pundits like my detractor is that they see Islam as scary, and think that if it’s stamped velayat-e faqih, this somehow means backwards, anti-western, government. While only focusing on what is different, whether we like that difference or not, what in turn they fail to see is the discursivity of Iranian Islamic history, and the political representations that have been fed through thousands of years of history and interaction with the west and others which has shaped the worldviews of certain peoples, including those of the Islamic Republic, whether reformist, principle-ist, neofundamentalist, or whatever. Therefore even leaders who believe in saving their past ideologies through a reformation of the system from within, through his own republican ideals, cannot actually be a positive player.

Mousavi is trying to reconcile his view of the Islamic Revolution with that of the issues he believes were starved out of the system by power and greed, rather than via its natural progression, and he sees a pragmatic foreign policy as one important point.

The IRI is not black or white. It is not evil nor moral. It is a state, after its own interests, some of which conflict with ours. But in this state system of sovereignty set up for us, we will come into contact with those other states’ interests, and must therefore interact with them. Do we want to deal with an Ahmadi, whom my detractor calls a supporter of genocide, or a Mousavi, who the best my detractor says was the prime minister during Khomeini’s ordered assassination of political “dissidents” 20 years ago plus or who helped begin a nuclear program to balance against Saddam’s Iraq in the 80’s, and has since spoken the language of change, political openness, and realist foreign policy regarding the IRI’s intentions (deep breath…)?

Seems pretty easy to me (and most serious analysts on the right and left)… And thankfully the current administration, though I cringed at Obama’s calling of Mousavi and Ahmadi the same, has realized this bankrupt neocon line should sit on the sidelines for awhile.

Now, back to actually trying to understand and truthfully analyze the complexities of the Islamic Republic.

Ackerman’s great take on what Mousavi offers:

The west has nothing to fear from Moussavi’s restorative attempt to reconcile Islam and republicanism in and of itself. Obviously the Iranian government has its interests and desires and we have ours, and they can conflict. But Moussavi’s rhetoric, in this important speech at least, is not filled with the anti-western demagoguery that marked Khomeini’s and marks Ahmadinejad’s. The opposition movement is not a movement of “liberals” in the way that some inwardly-focused American writers lazily imagine. But that doesn’t mean that the reformist syncretism that Moussavi offers adds up to an effort that western liberals, intellectually, can’t support. What it means is that Iranians are working to redefine their Islamic Revolution, not abandon it, and do so in a way that favors openness and justice and freedom.

Allahu Akbar!

•June 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This gives me the chills. This does not sound like a citizenry that will fade easily. This does not sound like a movement with no passion. The sound is of defiance urged by a system that has destroyed the symbol of the ballot box, the last option for these people to change things even just a little bit. They have no way out, but up. Things will be interesting for awhile:

Mousavi’s Ghalam News (فارسی) has reported that  Allahu Akbar is being shouted even more from rooftops and balconies than previous nights. همبستگی (solidarity)