themcglynn.com

17 Jun

Iran on the brink?

Pent-up forces dating back to the 1979 revolution may have been unleashed

By Mark LeVine

Full Article

In 15 years of writing about the Middle East, I have never encountered a situation that changed so fast that one could write an article that becomes outdated in the time it takes to write it.

It seems that the Iranian elite has been caught similarly off-guard, and is still trying to read its own society to understand how broad is the societal discontent reflected in the mass protests.

This calculus is crucial – in some ways more so than whether the results are legitimate or, as some claim, electoral fraud.

It will determine whether the Iranian power elite – that is, the political-religious-military-security leadership who control the levers of state violence – moves towards negotiation and reconciliation between the increasingly distant sides, or moves to crush the mounting opposition with large-scale violence.

A lot depends on what the elite thinks is actually happening on the ground, and why the alleged fraud unfolded as it did.

Do the issues motivating the current protests ultimately derive from people’s anger at perceived fraud and not having their votes counted? Or do they, as seems increasingly clear, reflect a much deeper level of anger at, and even opposition to, the nature and governing ideology and practises of the Iranian political system?………………………………………………………………………

If the protest movement that has flooded the streets in the last few days can forge a positive and inclusive vision for Iran’s future, one that addresses the many social, ethnic, economic and cultural issues underlying the current protest holistically, they could very well change the face of the Islamic Republic, if not now, then in four years’ time.

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