The Post-Election Analysis

First things first, this is without a doubt the most significant unrest in Iran since the 1997 student-led protests, if not bigger. But lets be clear about one thing, this generation is far from revolutionary. Of course, I wasn’t alive in the 1970s, but I am certain when I tell you that that generation was something extraordinary. Regardless of political orientation, Islamist, Marxist, or nationalist, those revolutionaries were fervently committed to their revolutionary aims and would not hesitate to lay down their lives for their cause.  They braved bullets and massacres… one after another. And up to the run-up to Feb. 11th, 1979, the date of the triumph of the revolution, an estimated 20,000 died. As much as I respect my own generation, I strongly believe that we don’t have the stones to see any protest movement through until the very end. Our generation, to which I am of course a member, is far from revolutionary like in the 1970s. The 1970s was about self-sacrifice and I just don’t see that amongst our generation today, even though the protests in Iran are very powerful. Also, I think it’s important to note that unlike the Shah’s regime, this regime has mastered the art of making sure that protests don’t spiral out of control into a full-blown sustainable nationwide protest movement. The regime’s ability to use force and its effectiveness in quarantining and isolating protesters is unmatched in recent Iranian history. Furthermore, their access to an ideologically die-hard segment of the population (see Ahmadinejad’s victory rally) provides the regime with crucial support in crucial junctures. This is in stark contrast to the Shah and his regime, which could not even muster the support of the peasantry, the supposed benefactors of the White Revolution, in his final hour on throne. But make no mistake about it, what’s happening in Iran is massive and very very serious. Although it’s still too early to tell how long Mousavi will drag this out, he has already proven a more formidable opponent than former reformist President Muhammad Khatami. When he was president, Khatami cowed in every power struggle with the conservatives in power and refused to draw on his popularity amongst the people to pressure the unelected conservatives to desist from blocking his reforms. Mousavi, however, has lodged a complaint against the election results with the Guardian Council and, more importantly, has made effective and unprecendented use of his popularity by calling on his supporters to continue to protest against the election results.  I think it is also important to note that the issue of Ahmadinejad vs. Mousavi is part of a bigger contest pitting Khamenei against Rafsanjani, which is why Ahmadinejad, a Khamenei loyalist, was attacking Rafsanjani and his sons (he called them all thieves) during his debate with Mousavi, because Mousavi is perceived as being a Rafsanjani loyalist. In other words, the struggle between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi is part of a bigger internal power struggle between Khamenei and Rafsanjani, which is also why Khamenei quickly endorsed the election results. Anyway, although I was late in offering my analysis on the post-election turmoil (I was preoccupied with family events this past weekend) I was covering the events closely and will be frequently posting here. Stay tuned.

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