Revolution, not Reform, for Iranians

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In light of ongoing uprisings and historical, political and social shifts in the Middle East, the Iranian regime continues to skillfully distract the world’s attention from the region’s most detrimental cancer: itself.  In timely fashion, the Iranian government brings to the forefront completely inconsequential developments and fabrications in order to keep its sizable opposition out of the spotlight.

Last week, reports of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s exit from Iranian politics filled international media headlines. Rafsanjani, seen as a more moderate Iranian politician, withdrew from the race to become president of the Assembly of Experts, an 83-member group entrusted with appointing and removing Iran’s supreme leader. He will nonetheless remain a member of the assembly, which he has been a part of since 2007. Conservatives in Iran’s government had called for Rafsanjani’s demise since 2009 as he spoke out against harsh crackdowns and was “excessively tolerant” of the opposition.

Recently, news of Presidential Election candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi’s and Mehdi Karoubi’s alleged arrests and imprisonment in Tehran’s Heshmatieyeh Jail made waves in the media. Soon after, news agencies and websites called the arrests a rumor and claimed that the men, along with their families, were in their homes. The two had been under house arrest for weeks in the backdrop of other Middle East uprisings and for fear that they would be instrumental in organizing Iran’s opposition movement.

Developments about Rafsanjani, Mousavi and Karoubi serve a two-fold purpose for the regime.  On a simple level, the regime seeks to streamline and consolidate its own grip and rule over the country by sidelining political dissenters. At the same time, the regime is handpicking and tailoring the coalition it wishes to call the “opposition.” Mousavi and Karoubi are labeled “moderate,” although many would contest the claim, but even so, they have bloodied their hands alongside the regime’s brutality and have been dutifully devoted to its hard-line ideology.

What the government has not considered in its entirety is that alongside its own repetitive and cleaver antics, the Iranian people, now having the experiences of their last unsuccessful uprising in the post-election demonstrations of 2009 and watching as their neighbors in the region successfully overthrow their dictators, possess a matured and refined view of opposition and reform.

The Iranian government is evading the reality that should the Iranians organize and rise against their regime, it will no longer be in reaction to a fraudulent election led by two of the regime’s own candidates. On the contrary, what makes the task of the Iranian opposition so daunting is that they are out not to oust an individual, the way the Egyptians or Tunisians did. They are out to oust a regime.

Perhaps the benefits that accompany the Iranian experience, the passage of time and even the taste of failure, is the realization that reforms and moderation will not answer their calls for freedom and justice. Only a change in regime and political ideology will.

It would be inaccurate to call Mousavi and Karoubi opposition leaders when their mere approval as presidential nominees substantiates a resolute allegiance to the Islamic regime and its doctrines. Iran’s Guardian Council, a body of 12 Iranian men, six clerics selected by the Supreme Leader and six lawyers, referred by the head of Iran’s judiciary and elected by the Parliament, is entrusted with the vetting process and obligated to literally “guard” the values of the Islamic Republic. Consequently, they must chose candidates who will do the same. According to the Iranian constitution, presidential candidates must possess a “convinced belief” in the founding principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Within these guidelines the Guardian Council vetoes candidates who are deemed unacceptable — in other words, those who possess views that stray from the regime’s agenda.  In the 2009 election, 476 candidates had applied. Only four passed through the sieve of the Guardian Council. Mousavi and Karoubi made the cut.

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  • Chezwick_Mac

    I don't know, Lisa. I have been reading about the "imminent" collapse of this regime since its inception 32 years ago. I'll remain a skeptic until it actually happens.

  • http://www.thedailybeast.com/author/jason-shams/ Jason Shams

    Simplistic, biased view of Iranian dynamics. Very bad, walk into any Iranian house party and some bitter old guy or woman who hasn't been there in forty years will present his ideals as analysis, like this one, except that person probably can't write English as well.

    • Guest517

      Jason, I'm curious as to what you are basing your opinion on. It is an editorial, so the bias slant is appropriate. The author is a journalist who specializes in Iran. I assume that she spends hours every day communicating with people and researching on the subject. In what way is her opinion the same as a non-professional? What are the complexities that aren't captured in this and other editorials or articles?

  • Lisa_H

    History has demonstrated over and over again that we cannot know for certain what lies ahead. I, too, hope that the right mix of elements shall converge and lead the people of Iran to freedom. Sooner rather than later.

  • Zohreh

    Acharya is absolutely right. The Persians have abandoned Islam and most have already converted to others or have become agnostics. The Iranian people see religion as problematic, any religion, so they want religion out of their life.

  • SAM000

    Dear Acharya and Zohreh; you are both right,
    From the first day of the Mullahs Regime, I and my familly fought this regime, two third of my familly are the martyrs, and we were all the Muslims.
    But, Political Islam (or Islamic Government) is the most dangerous, the most Un-human, the most DIABOLIC power that one can imagine.

    We stay Muslim and we continue to dissmantel from inside Islam, this shame of Islamism.

    From outside, you will never be able to destroy and explode this DIRT.

    Islam, like Judaism, or Christianity is a religion, but, any religion on political position with a repression force becomes a SATANIC power.

    If you organize a free election on any muslim nation, the Islamists will gain the Majority of the seats (except for Iran and Iraq), and this is the danger, how we can do with those 1,2 Billions who will ellect democratically Islamists to GOVERN?

    The solution is to dismantel, and uproot the Mullahs power in IRAN, and demonstrate the MONSTRE who was hiding inside.
    With this methode, we can educate the other muslims that their faith is something private forthemselves and using their fait as a tool on politics will become immediatly a SATANIC POWER.

    The race of the Islamists should be dried,
    The religion should remain in the private.