Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tipping Points in Iran

Last week, Haleh Esfandiari spoke in Santa Fe. One of the things she said that particularly struck me was that the participation of women in the demonstrations was something that the regime was not mentally prepared to deal with. The strictures on interactions between men and women put women demonstrators outside any of their models of public order.

Today, the New York Times reports that Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has been criticizing the regime as acting against Islam. Because the 1979 revolution was supposed to make Iran into a thoroughly Islamic country, this criticism strikes at the roots of the government's legitimacy. More so because Montazeri helped to set up the form of the government.

Events that are impossible by the mental models held by a repressive government and criticism that goes to its basis for existence can be devastating. That was what happened in the Soviet republics particularly, and Moscow didn't realize what was happening until too late.

These two factors are likely to be the most powerful. Whether they are used successfully depends on the insight of the Iranian opposition and the willingness of the regime to use force.


Anonymous said...

I'm not quite sure what you are driving at here, but you do know that Montazeri and Mousavi are aiming to topple the government and take power, don't you? That means that the things he says are self-serving and not necessarily true. And I guess you know that Esfandiari's job is to stir things up, encourage dissent, maintain contacts with dissident intellectuals, and generally further the aims of the US (regime change) while not being exposed as a CIA agent, and while working in the luxury Ronald Reagan Building just a block up the road from the White House.

Cheryl Rofer said...

Quite a few assertions there, with not much to back them up.

Anonymous said...

Lots more on Esfandiari at Is Haleh Esfandiari a CIA asset ? Ask yourself what it is she actually does that makes her so valuable to the government that she works in a prestigious office and met with Obama just a week before his inauguration, when her only claim to fame is she knows a lot about Persian poetry.

Montazeri's ambitions are well known. He was the main rival to Khamenei in Khomeini's time. Politicians lie, that's standard practice.

Mousavi was the lynch-pin at the Iranian end of the Iran-Contra Affair in 1985-6, when he was Prime Minister and was dealing with the CIA/NSC/Mossad while publicly denouncing the US as the Great Satan. The CIA knows it can work with him, hence he is the one they (and Esfandiari) are angling to get into power. I'm not so sure the crowds in the streets know what a duplicitous politician he is.

Incidently, Mousavi was the one who met with AQ Khan and bought the nuclear weapons plans off him in 1987. He was also Prime Minister in 1988 when the government purged all their political prisoners, over 3,000 were killed according to Amnesty International, making Mousavi a much more brutal leader than Ahmadinejad.

Cheryl Rofer said...

Looks like we've got a troll.