Just a Thought VII

Posted by sepoy on June 15, 2009 · 1 min read

Iran 2009 = US 2000 or maybe Iran 2009 = US 2006 or maybe Iran 2009 = US 2008 or maybe Iran 2009 = Pakistan 2007. I grow weary of all the punditry but the images are arresting. I especially love the one above, which appeared on NYT. The banner states: Patience, Dawn is Near. I am no expert on Iranian politics but I do know that it is the response of the theo-military junta to the election results which will determine the next few days and, more likely, next few years. That is to say, the more brutal the crackdown, the more severe the backlash. Watch the news, gentle readers.


Qalandar | June 15, 2009

I am one of those who thought Ahmadinejad would win, because of his advantage among rural and working class voters, and because I thought (perhaps incorrectly) that Moussevi (an ethnic Azeri) might have a hard time winning over many Persians. However, the haste with which the government has called these elections (barely a couple of hours after polls closed) that I am now wondering whether they have made the same mistake Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did in 1977 -- namely rig an election he would likely have won?

Salman | June 15, 2009

Stephen Walt : "Even if Ahmadinejad would have won fair-and-square, it looks to me like the clerics, the military, and the current President all panicked." http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/06/15/on_irans_election But this piece at Spiegel disagrees. "Look at the irregularities Mousavi is citing now: that they ran out of ballot paper in some polling precincts, that they did not keep some polls open long enough. There is no way such things could change the overall outcome which is clearly in favor of Ahmadinejad. If you compare this to the flaws of the presidential election in Florida in 2000, it seems very insignificant." http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,630552,00.html "While Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, initially endorsed the result, he has now ordered an investigation into the claims of vote-rigging and has called on Mousavi to pursue his appeal "calmly and legally." The powerful Guardian Council said on Monday that it would rule within 10 days on the complaints it had received." [...] "While security forces did not fire on the protesters, images of uniformed men on motorcycles hitting demonstrators with truncheons sent a clear message. Ahead of the elections, the hardline Revolutionary Guard had already warned that it would not tolerate a "velvet revolution" in Iran." http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,630515,00.html

Yesman | June 15, 2009

That is to say, the more brutal the crackdown, the more severe the backlash. Not really, Tiananmen square and Black September in Jordan proved that if the regime cracks down with overwhelming force, it will end the conflict.

Qalandar | June 15, 2009

Yesman: but even Tiananmen was followed by loosening of personal freedoms. i.e. it's one thing to crush the political opposition, but might be dicey for the regime to continue as if nothing has happened.

Salman | June 15, 2009

To your point Qalandar, "To substitute violence for power can bring victory, but the price is very high; for it is not only paid for by the vanquished, it is also paid by the victor in terms of his own power." (Hennah Arendt, On Violence)

Akbar | June 15, 2009

"The banner states: Patience, Dawn is Near. " It was year 1978 and I was reading this safarnama by Mustansar Hussein Tarrar, I guess. He travels by road through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey into Europe. While in Iran, he mentions conversation with a student who tells him about atrocities of Shah /SAVAK and concludes "It is dark night but dawn is very near ". Amazing banner and the things have come around almost a full circle. Only if Imperial philosophers/generals understood human nature.Alas there is neither understanding nor patience. Here is one example Obama: Iranian voters' voices should be heard Peaceful dissent should never be subject to violence that followed weekend elections that gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term, he said. "It would be wrong for me to be silent on what we've seen on the television the last few days," http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_us_iran

Akbar | June 15, 2009

"Not really, Tiananmen square and Black September in Jordan proved that if the regime cracks down with overwhelming force, it will end the conflict." Yesman your imagination don't have to travel to china to understand the point. Just carefully look at Iran's recent past history.

Qalandar | June 15, 2009

Off-topic: "I was reading this safarnama by Mustansar Hussein Tarrar..." Wow, never knew this was a real personality -- I only knew the name from a 50/50 skit on PTV (Ismail Tara and...not sure about the other guy's name, Majid Jahangir?). There was this skit on cops not being able to spell/write -- hence the guy would keep letting off a guy called "Mustansar Husain Tarrar". One day the cop was triumphant, as he had learned the name -- but was stumped by the response to his second question "baap ka naam?" ("father's name?"), to which the response was: "Mutazazzal-u-zamaan Tarrar"...

Qalandar | June 15, 2009

Ha ha ha, Youtube zindabad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9MruabCJ0s Never realized the cop is a very young Umar Shareef (evidently he knew non-sexist humor back then)...

sepoy | June 15, 2009

1. I cannot believe you pulled out this 50/50 skit. I also used to watch MHT's morning-show Subh Bakhair every day after cricket practice. He enunciated. Good memories. 2. I hereby nominate this the best comment on CM. Evah.

Szerelem | June 15, 2009

Juan Cole had some interesting posts (as always) here and here. Qalandar - you mention why you thought Mousavi (an ethnic Azeri) might have a hard time winning over many Persians, but as has been pointed out he lost by some 80% even in his home town Tabriz, which has a majority Azeri population - something that was really not expected, given the Azeri dislike for Ahmadinejad and is just one of the slightly weird twists in this election. I think in most reports before the elections, almost everything I read said that it really was too close to call/ too hard to tell how the election was going to pan out - given the lack of any formal, proper exit polls per se Ahmadinejad's victory should not have come as such a shock, maybe everyone did read the mood wrong. But then again, a strong winner with a 60%+ majority wouldn't really need to resort to the kind of tactics that Ahmadinejad has.

Szerelem | June 15, 2009

Also, this Mustansar Hussein Tarrar safarnama sound very interesting. I had no idea about the guy though, so had to resort to the help of google. But thanks for that link Qalandar, I forsee even more youtube time suckage.

Szerelem | June 15, 2009

Also, the Iran on the Big Picture

Qalandar | June 15, 2009

Thanks sepoy -- you'll note that my Bollywood bred self got it wrong in one respect: the cop doesn't say "baap ka naam" but "vaalid-e-muhtaram" :-) My version was more Agneepath than PTV...

karachikhatmal | June 16, 2009

qalandar didn't you watch the PTV morning show, where Tarrar and some random lady would host every week day? that sequence of varzish followed by a smidgen of cartoons which ended just as the school van began to beep seemed to form the transcedental pakistani experience of 80's kids... however the fact that you pulled out the 50-50 reference is a lot cooler... i still haven't stopped laughing

Salman | June 22, 2009

Yo Sepoy, The latest from your bud ;-) "Is Facebook to Iran's Moderate Revolution what the mosque was to Iran's Islamic Revolution? Is Twitter to Iranian moderates what muezzins were to Iranian mullahs? " http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/opinion/17friedman.html And "in most Middle East states, power grows out of the barrel of a gun and out of a barrel of oil — and that combination is very hard to overthrow. Oil is a key reason that democracy has had such a hard time emerging in the Middle East" http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/opinion/21friedman.html

Akbar | July 03, 2009

“Is Facebook to Iran's Moderate Revolution what the mosque was to Iran's Islamic Revolution? Is Twitter to Iranian moderates what muezzins were to Iranian mullahs? ” "From what I have seen, with few exceptions, Americans are as dumb and insouciant as they come. And they think they are the salt of the earth." http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/roberts07032009.html

Akbar | July 08, 2009

Jason Jones go to Iran http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=231547&title=jason-jones-behind-the-veil

Akbar | July 10, 2009

"Twitter 140-Character Limit Foils Major Breakthrough in Iran Election Controversy" http://qifanabki.com/2009/06/17/twitter-140-character-limit-foils-major-breakthrough-in-iran-election-controversy/

Qalandar | July 17, 2009

Zizek on the recent events in Iran: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n14/zize01_.html

Akbar | July 18, 2009

http://www.antiwar.com/photos/iran-protest-071709.jpg What do our friends in WEST think about Burka clad women protesting against Iranian regimen? Are they protesting so that they could shed their attire?

Qalandar | July 18, 2009

From the Zizek piece, three excerpts that stood out for me were: "The events in Iran can also be read as a comment on the platitudes of Obama's Cairo speech, which focused on the dialogue between religions: no, we don't need a dialogue between religions (or civilisations), we need a bond of political solidarity between those who struggle for justice in Muslim countries and those who participate in the same struggle elsewhere." "What all this means is that there is a genuinely liberatory potential in Islam: we don't have to go back to the tenth century to find a 'good' Islam, we have it right here, in front of us. The future is uncertain — the popular explosion has been contained, and the regime will regain ground. However, it will no longer be seen the same way: it will be just one more corrupt authoritarian government. Ayatollah Khamenei will lose whatever remained of his status as a principled spiritual leader elevated above the fray and appear as what he is — one opportunistic politician among many. But whatever the outcome, it is vital to keep in mind that we have witnessed a great emancipatory event which doesn't fit within the frame of a struggle between pro-Western liberals and anti-Western fundamentalists. If we don't see this, if as a consequence of our cynical pragmatism, we have lost the capacity to recognise the promise of emancipation, we in the West will have entered a post-democratic era, ready for our own Ahmadinejads. Italians already know his name: Berlusconi. Others are waiting in line." "What is the reality of this state of emergency? On 7 August 2007, a crew of seven Tunisian fishermen dropped anchor 30 miles south of the island of Lampedusa off Sicily. Awakened by screams, they saw a rubber boat crammed with starving people — 44 African migrants, as it turned out — on the point of sinking. The captain decided to bring them to the nearest port, at Lampedusa, where his entire crew was arrested. On 20 September, the fishermen went on trial in Sicily for the crime of 'aiding and abetting illegal immigration'. If convicted, they would get between one and 15 years in jail. Everyone agreed that the real point of this absurd trial was to dissuade other boats from doing the same: no action was taken against other fishermen who, when they found themselves in similar situations, apparently beat the migrants away with sticks, leaving them to drown. What the incident demonstrates is that Agamben's notion of homo sacer — the figure excluded from the civil order, who can be killed with impunity — is being realised not only in the US war on terror, but also in Europe, the supposed bastion of human rights and humanitarianism."

Salman | July 19, 2009

"All this however is unlikely to lead to a collapse in the élite; or signal a coming end to the Revolution. More likely is a counter-reaction that will lead to Mousavi associates being isolated, and removed from power - as emergent forces seek to inject new stimulus into the Revolution." Tehran troubles By Alastair Crooke http://conflictsforum.org/2009/tehran-troubles/#more-435

Salman | August 04, 2009

Immanuel Wallerstein on Iranian election - http://www.agenceglobal.com/Article.asp?Id=2086 "Some self-identified members of the world left argue that the supporters of Mousavi are largely middle-class and wealthy persons, whereas Ahmadinejad draws his supporters from the popular strata. Therefore, they say, a leftist should support Ahmadinejad. Some other leftists analyze the situation differently, arguing that this is merely a struggle between two varieties of privileged groups, and that Ahmadinejad's support in Tehran's poorer zones is largely the result of top down populism (or worse still, of bread and circuses à la Berlusconi). " ..."There are two things to be said about popular uprisings wherever they occur. The first is that it is never easy for people to go out in the streets to make demands on a government to change its policy. All governments are ready to use force against such demands, some more speedily than others. So when people do go out in the streets, it is never simply because "outsiders" are manipulating them. When the CIA arranged a coup in Iran in 1953, it did not do it by inducing Iranians to go out in the streets. It did it by working behind the scenes with military officers. One ought to respect the political autonomy of groups who actually risk going out in the streets. It is too easy to blame outside agitators. On the other hand, the second thing to say about popular uprisings is that they are always and inevitably a coalition of many elements. Some of the demonstrators are those with specific immediate grievances. Some are aiming to change the personnel in the government but not the regime as such. And some want to change, that is, overthrow, the regime. Popular demonstrations have seldom been composed of an ideologically consistent group of persons. Uprisings normally only succeed when they are such coalitions. But this always means that the post-uprising outcome is inherently uncertain. So the world left has to be careful in offering moral and political support to popular uprisings."