My latest piece in The Fletcher Forum of International Affairs: “The 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution is upon us, and supporters and detractors alike are busying themselves with articles that expound their worldviews. What is lost in the cacophony of polemics, however, is the revolution’s impact beyond Iran’s borders. Iran’s 1979 revolution both empowered oppressed Shi’ite Muslims across the Middle East, and prompted a Saudi-led sectarian backlash—the modern roots of today’s Shi’ite-Sunni divide.”
Georgetown University Talk: “Islam as a Discourse of Resistance in Iran: State Ideology vs Popular Protest in 2009”
I have since shortened the title of my presentation to “The Iranian Left’s Latin Roots: Protest and Protest Music.” Click here for the program.
My latest piece in The Fletcher Forum of International Affairs: “The United States would be wise to heed the lessons of history and let Iranians determine their own fate as any further intervention—whether soft or hard—could easily derail Iran’s organic political evolution in unforeseen ways. Soft intervention by way of presidential statements in Washington or at the United Nations in support of dissent would enable the Iranian government to cast its dissidents as part of an American plot. Any hard military intervention would provoke a nationalist backlash that would sideline calls for change from within.”
Dean Vali Nasr in Foreign Affairs: “Some observers see Iran today, with its use of militias and insurgents abroad, as the United States saw the Soviet Union or China at the height of its revolutionary fervor—as a power intent on using asymmetric means to upset the existing order and sow chaos. Iran’s goal is to “expand its malign influence,” Mattis said at his confirmation hearing, “to remake the region in its image.” But Iran is closer to modern Russia and China than to their revolutionary predecessors. Like them, it is a revisionist power, not a revolutionary one. It opposes a regional order designed to exclude it. Iran’s methods often defy international norms, but the national interests they serve, even when at odds with those of the United States, are not uncommon. Iran’s view of the world is shaped less by the likes of Lenin and Mao than by those of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. And it is driven less by revolutionary zeal than by nationalism.”
AlJazeera: “According to an the underlying causes of the widespread discontent in the recent protests were social and political. The head of Strategic Analysis Centre, Hessamudin Ashna, said that the polls show 60 percent of the population want reform but another 31 percent want ‘substantial changes’.”
The Intercept: “The safe zone appears intended to keep the Syrian army and its Iranian and Lebanese allies as far away from Israel’s border as possible, as well as solidify Israel’s control over the occupied Golan Heights. Israel seized the Golan from Syria in 1967’s Six-Day War. Expanding a buffer zone would likely make any negotiations over the return of the Syrian territory more difficult in the future, because the Golan Heights will be surrounded on both sides by areas with significant Israeli influence.”
Prof Asef Bayat in The Atlantic: “How do we explain the eruption? Among the numerous observations, two broad explanations stand out. The first views the unrest as a prelude to a revolution. The other understands it as an example of how Iranians typically air their public concerns. The reality, however, seems different. Neither simply an extension of routine protests, nor a prologue to revolution, what transpired in Iran recently was an extraordinary popular revolt. At its core: The “middle-class poor,” the rising angry class produced by a neoliberal age in which people’s welfare is left to the mercy of the market. With the opening of Iran’s economy, this class has benefited from educational opportunities, but failed in the job market; their expectations are high, but their livelihood less certain. With a disposition distinct from both the middle class and the poor, this disenchanted and restless class is poised to haunt indifferent authorities.”