Iran: One Generation Further

JR is neither Iranian, nor religious. His view of what is going on in Iran is the view of a mere bystander.

Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the leading opposition contender in Iran’s presidential election, has cancelled a rally planned for later today yesterday. He is thought to be reformist, but he is loyal to the regime. Now, millions of Iranians are waiting for the election re-count, announced by the Guardian Council.

Iran’s pious regime is still around, and may be around for some years to come. It won’t necessarily “go with a bang”. But during the past few days, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei‘s authority has started to erode, and so has the authority of all leading clerics who believed that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president would be best for the stability of the clerical oligarchy‘s rule. If the regime survives for now, it will also be because Khamenei – apparently anyway – understands that he can’t simply sweep allegations of election fraud under the carpet. But whatever decisions he may take, the regime he stands for has become dented, for all the world to see. The dents aren’t really new. They were incurred long ago. The system that rules Iran has prescribed them from the beginning, in 1979.

Those who accuse Ahmadinejad’s government of fraud haven’t presented clear evidence yet – there is some evidence, argues Der Spiegel, but nothing irrefutable. If the re-count ordered by the Guardian Council, will be impartial isn’t clear either.

While the damage to the regime is becoming evident, the will of the people is not – at least n0t yet. It is still buried under public distrust from both the Ahmadinejad and the Mousavi camp, and the will of the people is split, no matter who carried the most votes. Either for the medium or for the immediate term, there is only one way out for Iran’s elite: to establish a transparent process which will produce an election process ( either by re-counting, or by a re-run) in which people can believe. To agree to such a process won’t be easy, as many of the real leaders (Ahmadinejad is hardly one of them) are deeply at odds with each other. But all further doubts would lead to the killings of more Iranians, and every Iranian killed in this struggle, be it in broad daylight or in the obscurity of the country’s police stations and jails,  will disrepute the regime further.

In the long run, a regime that wants to base the daily lives of more than 70 million Iranians on the ideas of just one man is bound to fail. Any government under the auspices of the “Islamic Revolution”, orthodox or reformist, is bound to fail. Iran, a country that would have all the makings of a success story, is busy with spilling blood, and with wasting the lifetimes of its people. The ways of the world – and a nation which wants to prosper – can’t be squeezed into the framework of just one philosophy or religion.

Last time when hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Iranians turned to the streets was thirty years ago. Many of the demonstrators back then probably didn’t want a theocracy – they only felt that Iran was in a dead end, and that their situation was unsustainable. Almost any kind of change was welcome.

So it is now. The current demonstrations may die out with the re-count, or be brutally quelled – or they may succeed. But whatever their immediate outcome will be, they have already begun to change Iran.

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