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The Race for Iran

THE GREEN MOVEMENT IS NOT THE FUTURE OF IRAN

Western analysts and policymakers need to rethink their basic calculations about the Islamic Republic’s domestic politics.  This rethinking should start with a recognition that the Green movement is not the future of Iranian politics; in fact, it’s not even the future of what at least used to be called the “reform movement”.  By sticking with the “conventional wisdom” about Iranian politics in the West—which has been proved wrong at virtually every turn in recent years—Western analysts and policymakers are missing two critically important trends: 

–First, the Green movement still cannot make up its mind about what it wants

–Second, Iranian “principalists” have cultivated a younger generation of political leaders to take them through coming parliamentary and presidential election cycles; “reformists” have not done this.      

On the Green movement’s intellectual coherence:  Karroubi’s most recent statement, published on his website on June 20, extends his previous criticism of what he describes as the “vote scandal” and illegitimate outcome in last year’s presidential election, as well as abuses by the security forces and judiciary; the statement goes on to denounce what Karroubi characterizes as an extraordinary arrogation of power under the rubric of velayat-e-faqih (jurisprudential leadership).  But there is very little that is “actionable” in his statement. 

Mousavi’s statement, published by his website on June 15 and available in English translation here, has been depicted more positively in some Western media reports as a “political charter” that “attempts, for the first time, to unite the opposition movement behind a clear set of goals”.  This is inaccurate. 

Mousavi himself published a statement on January 1, 2010, ostensibly commenting on the Ashura protests that had occurred five days previously (for the original Farsi text and an English translation, see here).  This statement included a five-point “solution to the current problems and present crisis” that was widely hailed at the time by Western journalists and commentators as a “manifesto” for the Green movement.  A few days later, five expatriate Iranian intellectuals (Abdolali Bazargan, Akbar Ganji, Mohsen Kadivar, Ataollah Mohajerani, and Abdolkarim Soroush) published a ten-point program—it even included the word “manifesto” in its title—which was also widely acclaimed in the West (for an English translation of this document, see here.  Then, Robin Wright somehow managed to amalgamate these two documents with a third—an open letter from 88 professors—to adduce a kind of composite “opposition manifesto”, presenting “sweeping demands” that “would change the face of Iran”. 

But, in fact, these “manifestos” are irreconcilable in important respects.  Mousavi’s January 2010 statement posits what has been described as a “civil rights movement” agenda for the Greens—an agenda emphasizing the release of “political prisoners”, greater press and media freedom, a new election law/process, and allowing public demonstrations and the formation of political parties.        

By contrast, the manifesto from the five expatriates is a much more radical document.  It was, in fact, issued after Mousavi’s January 1 statement, amid widespread perceptions in Iran and among Iranian expatriates that Mousavi was “backing off”.  One of the five signatories (Soroush) gave an interview in which he explained that “the five of us thought that because we are close enough to the leaders of the movement—Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami—and know their demands, we should start drafting a manifesto or statement about the Green Movement.  So we started drafting, and then Mousavi’s statement was issued.  Since we are living outside the country, don’t have to fear [the government] and know what is in the mind of the people, we decided to publish our own statement to make clear what Mousavi’s intentions and goals of the Green Movement are”. 

In their manifesto, though, the five expatriates articulate a set of “optimal demands” for the Green movement that go well beyond anything that Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami have actually proposed.  These “optimal demands” include:  Ahmadinejad’s resignation as President of the Islamic Republic and the holding of new presidential elections, abolition of the Guardian Council’s power to vet candidates for elective office, establishment of a new election commission including “representatives of the opposition and protestors”, barring the use of Friday prayers for the issuance of statements and “orders” by the government, and making all high offices elective and subject to term limits. 

In this regard, it is worth noting that at least one of the signatories of the expatriates’ manifesto (Ganji) is a long-time advocate of secular democracy in Iran; another (Kadivar) is a staunch critic of the idea and practice of velayat-e-faqih; yet another (Soroush) advocates a model of “religious democracy” which would effectively dismantle the Islamic Republic.  While, in their statement, the five signatories stop short of an explicit call to replace the Islamic Republic with a secularized alternative, Soroush described the manifesto as a first stage; in the “next stage”, the Movement “may demand a redrafting of the constitution”.     

Here, in a nutshell, is the Green movement’s essential intellectual problem, as we described it in a January 5, 2010 article in The New York Times:  “Beyond expressing inchoate discontent, what does the current ‘opposition’ want?  It is no longer championing Mr. Mousavi’s presidential candidacy; Mr. Mousavi himself has now redefined his agenda as ‘national reconciliation’.  Some protestors seem to want expanded personal freedoms and interaction with the rest of the world, but have not comprehensive agenda.  Others—who have received considerable Western press coverage—have taken to calling for the Islamic Republic’s replacement with an (ostensibly secular) ‘Iranian Republic’.”                 

Mr. Mousavi’s latest utterance certainly does not resolve this fundamental tension between the Green movement’s “reformist” and “counter-revolutionary” currents.  Mousavi’s June 15 statement is both longer and sharper in tone than his January 1 statement.  In his most recent message, Mousavi goes beyond criticizing the current Iranian government and the conduct of the judiciary and security forces to highlight what he describes as the “corruption” of a “totalitarian” system—e.g., by asking “who dares to open investigations into the centers of power regarding the great ‘privatizations’ based on Article 44 of the Constitution to expose this great monopolization of our economy”. 

But Mousavi also spends far more words in the June 15 statement than in his January 1 statement defending his loyalty (and the loyalty of those in the Green movement) to the legacy of Imam Khomeini, the Iranian revolution, and the Islamic Republic.  Just as the reform movement of earlier days tried to do, Mousavi seeks to depict the Green movement as the true heirs of Khomeini’s legacy—it is, in Mousavi’s presentation, those who oppose the Green movement who are departing from Khomeini’s principles.  Furthermore, in his June 15 statement, Mousavi underscores to a much greater extent than his January 1 statement his commitment and that of the Green movement to Iran’s independence and the full exercise of its national sovereignty, without being subject to foreign influence.  (It is a sign of how badly Mousavi is losing the “PR war” inside Iran that he now feels obliged to emphasize these things so strongly.) 

Neither in June 2010 nor in January 2010 does Mousavi make any statement that remotely suggests he wants to do away with the Islamic Republic—he remains a “reformist”, not a “counter-revolutionary”.  Indeed, Mousavi argues that the Green movement is “an extension of the Iranian people’s quest for freedom, social justice and national sovereignty, which had been previously manifested in the Constitutional Revolution, the Oil Nationalization Movement and the Islamic Revolution”.  Alongside a lot of rhetoric about the Green movement’s “identity”, “roots”, “values”, and “goals” (to be “a purifier and reformer of the course taken in the Islamic Republic after the Revolution” and to ensure “respect for the people’s votes and opinions”), the actual plan of action put forward in the June 15 statement is remarkably mild: 

“[T]he goals of the Green Movement can only be realized by: strengthening civil society, expanding the space available for social dialogue, increasing awareness, [facilitating] the free of circulation of information, [encouraging] the active participation of [various] parties and associations, and generating a [liberal environment] for intellectuals as well as social and political activists who are loyal to national interests. The achievement of these goals requires an emphasis on common demands, which will facilitate collaboration and coordination among various members of the Green Movement who, despite their own unique identities, have accepted the inherent pluralism of the movement and have gathered side by side under its umbrella.”

But the reformist, “civil rights movement” agenda no longer defines the Green movement—if it ever really did.  The movement’s “counter-revolutionary” current—which is the current that is so enthusiastically supported in the West—has trumped the “reformist” current, at least in popular perceptions inside Iran.  That is one reason why the Green movement’s base of popular support has declined so sharply over the past year—because, as we wrote in our New York Times article, “polling after the [June 12, 2009 presidential] election and popular reaction to the Ashura protests [on December 27, 2009] suggest that most Iranians are unmoved, if not repelled, by calls for the Islamic Republic’s abolition”.  Even Kadivar, in an interview after the five expatriates’ manifesto was published, acknowledged that “the majority of Iranians has no desire for a second revolution, thirty years after the last one”.    

Confusion about the Green movement’s objectives—along with a series of strategic and tactical mistakes—has marginalized both Mousavi and Karroubi.  In Iran today, it is not hard to find reformists/Mousavi supporters who complain that the Green movement was “hijacked” by elements with a more radical—and seemingly foreign-supported—agenda.  As a result, reformist politicians who want a future in Iranian politics are distancing themselves from the movement. 

Confusion about the Green movement’s objectives is abundantly reflected in analyses by pro-Green Western commentators.  Robin Wright noted in January that, while the movement is not yet a full-fledged “counter-revolution”, it is “headed in that direction”—an assessment we contested at the time and which is now increasingly acknowledged as an unrealistic description of the movement’s actual political impact.  On the other hand, Austrian scholar Walter Posch goes out of his way to stress the movement’s “Khomeinist” character.  Green movement partisans do not like it when we point this out, but the movement’s intellectual incoherence is an important factor in its by-now undeniable decline. 

On generational politics:  Publication of the Mousavi and Karroubi statements inadvertently highlights another important long-term reality about contemporary Iranian politics.  Over the last decade, on the conservative side of the Islamic Republic’s political spectrum, there has been a deliberately engineered process of succession in the upper echelons of Iran’s principalist factions.  This process of succession has effectively transferred leadership of these factions from an older generation of clerics to a younger generation of laymen who “came of age” not during the Iranian revolution but fighting in the Iran-Iraq war.  The goal of this transition was to make conservative political forces more electorally competitive with reformists, who dominated the Islamic Republic’s presidential and parliamentary elections from the mid 1990s until the 2004 parliamentary election and the 2005 presidential election. 

A comparable process of generational succession has yet to take place in the upper echelons of the Islamic Republic’s reform movement.  Since President Khatami left office in 2005, reformists have been in disarray, and ambivalence about the legacy of Khatami’s presidency continues to undermine their political prospects.  Above all, the reformists’ political difficulties are reflected in the absence of an obvious successor to Khatami.  Clearly, neither Mousavi nor Karroubi can fulfill this role.   

Thus, the ongoing political competition in the Islamic Republic between reformists and conservatives is more complicated than most Western analysts and commentators recognize.  On the one hand, Iranian voters seem to like some parts of the reformist agenda.  But reformists, at this point, lack an effective standard-bearer for that agenda.  Reformists also suffer from perceptions that they are not deeply engaged with bread-and-butter issues of primary concern to many lower-class and even middle-class voters, and that they did not really “deliver” on their agenda when in charge of both the presidency and the parliament. 

On the other hand, important parts of the conservative “platform” also appeal to Iranian voters.  But, in contrast to their reformist opponents, the principalists have cultivated younger politicians who are effective representatives of their message.  As we think about the future of Iranian politics, these realities leave the reformist camp at a real disadvantage.  Western analysts and policy makers have yet to come to grips with this.       

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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42 Responses to “THE GREEN MOVEMENT IS NOT THE FUTURE OF IRAN”

  1. Iranian@iran says:

    I repeat my previous response to Pak:

    I think it’s absolutely clear that all branches of the US regime are working 24 hours a day against Iran and that includes all intelligence agencies (only a munafegh can deny that). To put it bluntly, the greens are in bed with the CIA itself. On the other hand Flynt Leverett is no longer in government and he and his wife have taken a heroic stance against the dominating forces in DC. Their position is that it is in US interests to accept the will of the Iranian people. Pak should do the same.

  2. Pak says:

    Dear kooshy,

    I have heard the phrase you mentioned a number of times, except the part that goes:

    “but what we don’t know is, if they will be our SOBs or theirs, therefore not worth to try.”

    I have never heard that before! “We want reform in Iran, but if the West even gives an inkling of support to an Iranian reform movement, we no longer want reform.” That is basically what you are saying. I must say that such reasoning is quite flawed. The West would exploit anything anyway, just as the regime exploits the Palestinian cause, thus de-legitimising the poor Palestinians who actually want to resolve the impasse.

    Here is another phrase that I hear very often from Iranians:

    “You get what you deserve.”

    Dear Iranian@iran,

    Whatever! You are the one who is openly advocating the support of a former CIA agent. The facts speak for themselves my friend! How embarrassing.

  3. Kamran says:

    Bill:

    Few people in Iran take the green people seriously. By the way, there are now two Kamrans here!

  4. Iranian@iran says:

    Bill Davit,

    Rest assured the green movement only exists in the United States.

  5. Bill Davit says:

    fesenjoon,

    I read through your post at June 24, 2010 at 11:12 am and was stunned. It was awesome! You post was very much in line with what I wanted to write. Like you I am amazed that “subject matter” experts still try to write off the Green Movement. Its as if these people had blinders on and missed the fact the regime has arrested 18,000, 2,8000 behind bars still, has more journalists jailed than most of the world combined, killed over a 100, shut down over 30 papers, banned over 60 foreign news outlets, and even resorted to rape! Well now one would think a regime who so “soundly” holds power would have no need of these draconian methods to stay in power? I also find it quite ironic that people who don’t recongnize the strength and legitimacy of the Green Movement still find time to write about it. Quite odd considering this very movement is supposedly not that strong. Well my friend the best proof the Green Movement is alive and well is the very actions of its opponents trying to delegitimize. After all if the Green Movment is not viable why do these opponents keep having to tell us through a myriad of articles it is not? Ironic that the very opponents of the Green Movement are often the ones who validate its strength and viability through their actions to suppress it!!

    Thx
    Bill

  6. Iranian@iran says:

    To put it bluntly, the greens are in bed with the CIA itself.

  7. Iranian@iran says:

    Pak,

    I think it’s absolutely clear that all branches of the US regime are working 24 hours a day against Iran and that includes all intelligence agencies (only a munafegh can deny that). On the other hand Flynt Leverett is no longer in government and he and his wife have taken a heroic stance against the dominating forces in DC.

  8. kooshy says:

    Pak a few observations

    First- if you are to stand up for Iran’s rights and independence where better then on a site operated by a former CIA employee, this is the fastest, cheapest, easiest way for an Iranian raising their voice of disagreement with what CIA has done in the past or perhaps plans to do in future with our country, and shows them how solidly we stand for Iran’s right and independence, I am sure since at least one of the principals is a former CIA employee, current CIA employs will want to know what they write unless like in the days of condor they have already been sanctioned, so supposedly me and you will get the chance to raise our voice of opposition for their operations against Iran’s interests.

    Second- me and you we both live outside of Iran, let me tell you what I hear from Iranians inside Iran, mostly from formerly Greens , if you happen to have seen the Movie Patton, pay attention to the very last words he speaks about the Russian general, and this is what you hear in Iran:

    “These guys, might be SOBs, but we know they are our SOBs, Shah was also an SOB, but he was their SOB, and we know that, these new guys you like so much, are also
    SOBs, but what we don’t know is, if they will be our SOBs or theirs, therefore not worth to try.

    Cheers

    P.S. Scott knew that Leveret worked for CIA did he mention that?

  9. Pak says:

    Dear James,

    Nice try, but there is very little you can say to paint a good picture of the CIA.

    Dear Iranian@iran,

    Your accusation is based on anecdotal evidence at best. I have one word for you, which you probably chant very often: monafegh. I am so shocked that all I can do is laugh at regime apologists who are sleeping with the enemy; people who think that a former CIA agent is actually working in their favour. HAHA

  10. Iranian@iran says:

    I hope Pak doesn’t have a heart attack! The greens are in bed with the CIA and that’s ok with Pak, but he sees Flynt Leverett who was in the CIA once upon a time as discredited for taking an independent stance! That’s weird Pak!

  11. James Canning says:

    Pak,

    Iraq and its people were overwhelmed by an unnecessary catastrophe, not because of intelligence gathering by the CIA, but because of subversion of the role of intelligence, carried out by a cabal of primarily Jewish fanatical “supporters” of Israel, operating at high levels within the G W Bush administration.

  12. James Canning says:

    Pak,

    Are you aware the CIA opposes any attack on Iran by either Israel or the US? And that the CIA had determined Saddam Hussein had destroyed his WMD in the 1990s, well before the idiotic US/UK invasion was launched?

    The primary threat to Iran, in the US, comes from idiot Christian Zionists who want global war and end of the world, and from foolish other “supporters” of Israel who think Israel could resolve its issues with the Palestinians, to Israel’s complete satisfaction, if Iran were forced to end support of the Palestinians.

  13. Pak says:

    Dear fesenjoon,

    Thank you for your post. I had no idea that Flynt Leverett was formerly on the payroll of the CIA. I am absolutely shocked, but everything is falling into place. It now makes sense why he and his wife would interfere in Iranian domestic politics.

    This revelation totally discredits the Leveretts. I still cannot believe it. And, to top it off, so many regime apologists on this website are openly cosying up to them. I am ashamed for my compatriots. What a disgrace.

  14. Kamran says:

    Fesenjoon your mindless rant makes one laugh!

  15. fesenjoon says:

    Mr. and Ms. Leverett, You Gotta Be Kiddin’ Me
    Mr. and Ms. Leverett claim that “The Green Movement Is Not the Future of Iran” and the future of Iran will be in the hands of “younger generation of laymen who “came of age” not during the Iranian revolution but fighting in the Iran-Iraq war”, which probably refers to the members of Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRG). Basically the couple are telling their ‘Western’ audiences in a highly coded language to get over it because there was a military coup in Iran and the authorities have been successful in demolishing the opposition and in eliminating the reformists, so young IRG members will be the future of Iran’s politics.

    Leverett(s) say: “On the Green movement’s intellectual coherence: Karroubi’s most recent statement, published on his website on June 20, extends his previous criticism of what he describes as the “vote scandal” and illegitimate outcome in last year’s presidential election, as well as abuses by the security forces and judiciary; the statement goes on to denounce what Karroubi characterizes as an extraordinary arrogation of power under the rubric of velayat-e-faqih (jurisprudential leadership). But there is very little that is “actionable” in his statement”.

    Mr. and Ms. Leverett, what is the role of the state’s repression on there being “very little” actionable in Karoubi’s statement? By the way, did you forget to mention that protests for the anniversary of the June election were not permitted by the authorities? Why did you forget such an important issue, O former agent of “the CIA, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the National Security Council”? Let me guess the answer: that would not fit the line of your propaganda.
    Yes Mr. and Ms. Leverett, people were not permitted to protest on the anniversary of the June election which means the consequences of another huge protest could be the killing, arrest, torture, or beating of the protesters. Many people throughout Iran protested anyway. Now do you want to consider the legitimate fear of getting killed and prison raped as a lack of enthusiasm for the Green Movement? I am just sorry for you Mr. and Ms. Leverett, as this shows your lack of honesty and morality, not just a shortcoming in analytical ability.

    Do you want to know about the actions taking place in Iran by the people? Oh, I forgot that people are meaningless to you and only Mousavi-Karoubi’s statements count, O former agent of CIA. I suggest you read the letters of Majid tavakoli, Mohammad Nouri-zad, Farzad Kamangar,Mahdieh Golroo, etc. Read the words of the mothers of Sohrab Erabi, Neda Agha Soltan and Kianoush Asa and other Green Movement martyrs. Read what the wife and mother of Mansoor Osanloo has to say about the struggle of Mansoor. Read Ali Nejati’s letter. You can not honestly talk about the Green Movement unless you start including people into your equations; otherwise your shallow pieces (definitely lengthy but without evidence or consistent logic) will continue to be like the English translation of Hossein Shariatmadari’s articles, the official propaganda of the hardliners.

    Leverett(s) say: “In their manifesto, though, the five expatriates articulate a set of “optimal demands” for the Green movement that go well beyond anything that Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami have actually proposed. These “optimal demands” include: Ahmadinejad’s resignation as President of the Islamic Republic and the holding of new presidential elections, abolition of the Guardian Council’s power to vet candidates for elective office, establishment of a new election commission including “representatives of the opposition and protestors,” barring the use of Friday prayers for the issuance of statements and “orders” by the government, and making all high offices elective and subject to term limits. In this regard, it is worth noting that at least one of the signatories of the expatriates’ manifesto (Ganji) is a long-time advocate of secular democracy in Iran; another (Kadivar) is a staunch critic of the idea and practice of velayat-e-faqih; yet another (Soroush) advocates a model of “religious democracy” which would effectively dismantle the Islamic Republic. While, in their statement, the five signatories stop short of an explicit call to replace the Islamic Republic with a secularized alternative, Soroush described the manifesto as a first stage; in the “next stage,” the movement “may demand a redrafting of the constitution.”

    Contrary to what Mr. and Ms. Leverett suggest, the Iranian scholar Hamid Dabashi has comprehensively written about the fake dichotomy of secularism vs. religiosity of the state. He has explained that secularism in itself is a religion and in future Iran we should make sure that all the religions will enjoy equality and also religious repression should not be practiced (neither in the form of Islamic repression in Iran nor secularist repression like in France or Switzerland). The fact that Iranian people do not want to be discriminated and repressed by the state’s so called Islamic laws is not dismissible just because Ganji-Soroush-Bazargan-Kadivar-Mohajerani’s statement has not mentioned it. Were you sleeping all these years when the women’s rights movement was outspokenly against the state misogynistic “Islamic” rules? Were you busy in AIPAC and CIA when Iranians “Islamic” dress code and behavior have been imposed on Iranians from above with use of force for 30 years and the government still has problems as people are not following its “Islamic” cultural norms and orders? Do you see how shallow your arguments are, O former agent of CIA, now an apologist of Farzad Kamangar’s killer?

    Leverett(s) say: “Here, in a nutshell, is the Green movement’s essential intellectual problem, as we described it in a January 5, 2010 article in the New York Times: “Beyond expressing inchoate discontent, what does the current ‘opposition’ want? It is no longer championing Mr. Mousavi’s presidential candidacy; Mr. Mousavi himself has now redefined his agenda as ‘national reconciliation.’ Some protestors seem to want expanded personal freedoms and interaction with the rest of the world, but have not comprehensive agenda. Others — who have received considerable Western press coverage — have taken to calling for the Islamic Republic’s replacement with an (ostensibly secular) ‘Iranian Republic’.”

    I am sorry but you are completely lost. That statement of Mousavi was meant to put the ball in the field of the “enemy”. He gave a few trivial suggestions to the authorities in order to “resolve” the conflict. He showed that he (as the assumed leader of the Green Movement) is in favor of talking rather than brutal violence that has been the only means of the state to silence the uprising. Mousavi’s statement was issued at a time when people were receiving death sentences for holding stones while protesting. Not everyone is indifferent to the deaths of Iranian people like you are Mr. and Ms. Leverett. Sorry to break it to you. Mousavi and Karoubi feel responsible for children who have lost their moms or fathers, for women who have lost their husbands, and so on. That’s why they canceled the protest of the June election anniversary.

    Leverett(s): “Mr. Mousavi’s latest utterance certainly does not resolve this fundamental tension between the Green movement’s “reformist” and “counter-revolutionary” currents. Mousavi’s June 15 statement is both longer and sharper in tone than his January 1 statement. In his most recent message, Mousavi goes beyond criticizing the current Iranian government and the conduct of the judiciary and security forces to highlight what he describes as the “corruption” of a “totalitarian” system — e.g., by asking “who dares to open investigations into the centers of power regarding the great ‘privatizations’ based on Article 44 of the Constitution to expose this great monopolization of our economy?”

    I am sorry but could you please explain who the counter-revolutionaries are. Are you calling the radical protesters who sacrifice or endanger their lives for justice in their home country counter-revolutionary? Do you mean those critical of the state and in favor of fundamental change in their country are counter-revolutionary?

    Leverett(s) say:”But Mousavi also spends far more words in the June 15 statement than in his January 1 statement defending his loyalty (and the loyalty of those in the Green movement) to the legacy of Imam Khomeini, the Iranian revolution, and the Islamic Republic. Just as the reform movement of earlier days tried to do, Mousavi seeks to depict the Green movement as the true heirs of Khomeini’s legacy — it is, in Mousavi’s presentation, those who oppose the Green movement who are departing from Khomeini’s principles. Furthermore, in his June 15 statement, Mousavi underscores to a much greater extent than his January 1 statement his commitment and that of the Green movement to Iran’s independence and the full exercise of its national sovereignty, without being subject to foreign influence. (It is a sign of how badly Mousavi is losing the “PR war” inside Iran that he now feels obliged to emphasize these things so strongly.)”

    Maybe Mousavi has to emphasize “his commitment and that of the Green movement to Iran’s independence and the full exercise of its national sovereignty, without being subject to foreign influence”, as a result of the propaganda of the state and commentators like you, Mr. and Ms. Leverett. Why do you disregard the fact that the more the state feels that it has lost its legitimacy the more it spreads its propaganda that the Green Movement is orchestrated by the West and that’s why Mousavi has to over-emphasize the independence of the Green Movement? Let’s not forget that the whole national media is a stage for state’s propaganda so emphasis on the independence of the Green Movement is necessary.

    The fact that Mousavi- Karoubi-Khatami or some other reformists mention that the Green Movement is for society to go back in line of Khomeini is very complex, beyond what Mr. and Ms. Leverett can ever offer in their Kayhan-newspaper style articles. If I want to shortly explain this I would say that it’s partly because many reformists probably genuinely believe in Khomeni’s ideas but this has been challenged by the people. Their dedication to Ayatolah Khomeini is gradually changing as Mousavi recently, in response to the letter of Ayatollah Montazer’s daughter (who asked Mousavi to denounce the mass murder of political prisoners during 80s), said that Ayatollah Khomeini was not an infallible person and thus it’s possible that Khomeini has made mistakes. Mousavi continued that he would rather not criticize Khomeini at the time as it would be used for propaganda by both the state and outside enemies (paraphrase). Two other reasons that some of the reformists refer to Khomeini are to criticize the current order of the state and to gaining legitimacy. Let’s not forget that after the election some of the hardliners like Larijani were comparing the reformists to MKO which would have meant much more prosecution of all the reformists than we are witnessing now, if it had been widely accepted. In fact, by referring to Khomeini they state that the current regime is not what it was supposed to be and is far from the ideals of the 1979 revolution and we reformists are closer to the ideals of the 1979 revolution and Khomeini than those in power currently. In other words, it’s their hurtful baton that they once in a while hit on the head of Khamenei by saying that they are in favor of going back to Khomeini’s era.

    However, many people in the Green Movement, including myself, see this as a failure (or contradiction) of the reformists as they don’t offer a truthful uncensored narration of the post-revolution history. But we are hoping as time passes people force the reformists to criticize the events of the first two decades of post-revolution. Tajzadeh and Mohajerani are two examples of reformists who have already criticized themselves for not having taken a strong stance to criticize the events of post-revolution when those events took place.

    Let’s not forget that reformism is not the only opposition in Iran and for that matter within the Green Movement. Thus the different forms of opposition in Iran go beyond the reformist vs. principalist dichotomy that Mr. and Ms. Leverett offer. For instance, socialist students have been considered reformists because it’s way more costly for them to announce their true political affiliation.

    Leverett(s) say: “Neither in June 2010 nor in January 2010 does Mousavi make any statement that remotely suggests he wants to do away with the Islamic Republic — he remains a “reformist,” not a “counter-revolutionary.” Indeed, Mousavi argues that the Green movement is “an extension of the Iranian people’s quest for freedom, social justice and national sovereignty, which had been previously manifested in the Constitutional Revolution, the Oil Nationalization Movement and the Islamic Revolution.” Alongside a lot of rhetoric about the Green movement’s “identity,” “roots,” “values,” and “goals” (to be “a purifier and reformer of the course taken in the Islamic Republic after the Revolution” and to ensure “respect for the people’s votes and opinions”), the actual plan of action put forward in the June 15 statement is remarkably mild: [T]he goals of the Green Movement can only be realized by: strengthening civil society, expanding the space available for social dialogue, increasing awareness, [facilitating] the free of circulation of information, [encouraging] the active participation of [various] parties and associations, and generating a [liberal environment] for intellectuals as well as social and political activists who are loyal to national interests. The achievement of these goals requires an emphasis on common demands, which will facilitate collaboration and coordination among various members of the Green Movement who, despite their own unique identities, have accepted the inherent pluralism of the movement and have gathered side by side under its umbrella”.

    Any of these mild demands, as Mr. and Ms. Leverett describe them, put in action by the state would drastically change the current form of the state. The reasons that the system has more or less sustained its post-June-election form, albeit at the (very high) cost of its legitimacy, are the barbaric Kahrizak detention center, prison rapes, widespread arrests of worker activists, journalists, students, etc., harsh sentences and rushed executions of political prisoners before of each scheduled protests in order to scare off the people of political actions. Offering mild demands, actually, in themselves are pretty revolutionary as they indicate that the very basic mild, as Mr. and Ms. Leverett describe them, rights of the people are denied and can raise the awareness of those undecided about the Green Movement that the Movement is not for having McDonald’s in Iran but to achieve the basic human rights of people.

    However the basic point that Mr. and Ms. Leverett love to miss is that the Green Movement is the heroic actions and sacrifices of the people in the streets, universities, prisons of Iran or in their underground activism and is not restricted to what Mousavi, Karoubi or Khatami have to say.

    Leverett(s) say: “But the reformist, “civil rights movement” agenda no longer defines the Green movement — if it ever really did. The movement’s “counter-revolutionary” current — which is the current that is so enthusiastically supported in the West — has trumped the “reformist” current, at least in popular perceptions inside Iran. That is one reason why the Green movement’s base of popular support has declined so sharply over the past year — because, as we wrote in our New York Times article, “polling after the [June 12, 2009 presidential] election and popular reaction to the Ashura protests [on December 27, 2009] suggest that most Iranians are unmoved, if not repelled, by calls for the Islamic Republic’s abolition.” Even Kadivar, in an interview after the five expatriates’ manifesto was published, acknowledged that “the majority of Iranians has no desire for a second revolution, thirty years after the last one.”

    Each time that Mr. and Ms. Leverett call the heroic radical protesters of Iran counter-revolutionary makes me feel that I am listening to Khamenei, Falahian, Hoseinian, or Shariatmadari. They are revolutionary, Mr. and Ms. Levrett. Those who rape them, arrest them or kill them because of their uprising are in fact counter-revolutionary. You get it?

    What’s your evidence for your hollow claim that the Green Movement has declined and Iranians are not in favor of abolition of the system when even Mousavi’s mild demands would result in abolition of the current from of the system? If the Green Movement has declined, then why still about thousands of people are in prisons? Why the state didn’t let the people to protest on the anniversary of the June election to show that the Green Movement has lost its popular support?
    If your claims were true then the state that you are the apologist of its murder would let the people to protest on the anniversary of the June election to show to the whole world that the movement is gone with the wind. Don’t you think? Could you please explain for us that what was so scary about the presence of the people in the streets for the regime to not issue a permit for anniversary protest? What’s the reason for the heavy presence of the security forces in the streets and universities? What’s the reason that many innocent people are in prisons without having access to lawyers?

    Leverett(s) say: “Confusion about the Green movement’s objectives — along with a series of strategic and tactical mistakes — has marginalized both Mousavi and Karroubi. In Iran today, it is not hard to find reformists/Mousavi supporters who complain that the Green movement was “hijacked” by elements with a more radical — and seemingly foreign-supported — agenda. As a result, reformist politicians who want a future in Iranian politics are distancing themselves from the movement”.

    Could you please show us your source for the claim that the reformists have claimed that the movement is hijacked by a foreign-supported agenda? Who has distanced her or himself from the movement, O former CIA member?

    If Iranians are in favor of overthrowing the system, it is their right, Mr. and Ms. Leverett. Reform is not the only legitimate form of opposition. What gives legitimacy to a form of opposition is not the safety of the ruling class but rather the objectives and methods of the opposition. If Iranian people are in favor of a referendum, which is what Ahmadinejad suggests for Palestinians, it is none of your or any other mouth piece of the regime’s business to dismiss or delegitimize that demand. Get it?

    The situation in which reform is considered the only acceptable form of resistance, while all other forms are portrayed as illegitimate and “counter-revolutionary” by the state is a result of human restriction and a sick desire to respect the power, the ruling elite, legality, the laws of the state but not (as you use it) a fact, not at all.

    Leverett(s) say: “Confusion about the Green movement’s objectives is abundantly reflected in analyses by pro-Green Western commentators. Robin Wright noted in January that, while the movement is not yet a full-fledged “counter-revolution,” it is “headed in that direction” — an assessment we contested at the time and which is now increasingly acknowledged as an unrealistic description of the movement’s actual political impact. On the other hand, Austrian scholar Walter Posch goes out of his way to stress the movement’s “Khomeinist” character. Green movement partisans do not like it when we point this out, but the movement’s intellectual incoherence is an important factor in its by-now undeniable decline”.

    Mr. and Ms. Leverett, the Green Movement, as you mistakenly think, has not been happening in vaccum but in action and reaction to the reality of the outside world. The movement is alive and changes its methods and demands according to the reality of outside world. When the repression and violence of the state increases against all different sociopolitical layers of the society, and most reformists and former officials are deligitimized, the legitimacy of the state becomes a question and you can not expect the people to ask only for their votes and not more. The 1979 revolution belongs to the people of Iran, not the state; it’s the people’s history. Thus people who re-demand the ideals of 1979 revolution by sacrificing their lives and freedom can not be called counter-revolutionary and easily dismissed.

    Leverett(s) say: “On generational politics: Publication of the Mousavi and Karroubi statements inadvertently highlights another important long-term reality about contemporary Iranian politics. Over the last decade, on the conservative side of the Islamic Republic’s political spectrum, there has been a deliberately engineered process of succession in the upper echelons of Iran’s principalist factions. This process of succession has effectively transferred leadership of these factions from an older generation of clerics to a younger generation of laymen who “came of age” not during the Iranian revolution but fighting in the Iran-Iraq war. The goal of this transition was to make conservative political forces more electorally competitive with reformists, who dominated the Islamic Republic’s presidential and parliamentary elections from the mid 1990s until the 2004 parliamentary election and the 2005 presidential election”.

    Mr. and Ms. Leverett say: “This process of succession has effectively transferred leadership of these factions from an older generation of clerics to a younger generation of laymen who “came of age” not during the Iranian revolution but fighting in the Iran-Iraq war. ”
    This is what Iranian people know as the militarization process of the establishment (or military coup) in Iran. But the analysis that Mr. and Ms. Leverett offer is too simplistic: “The goal of this transition was to make conservative political forces more electorally competitive with reformists”. The IRG grew into its current state as a military-economic-ideology-security-intelligence power because of many different factors, and was not quite engineered purely for the purpose of competing with the reformists, although in its latest June 2009 coup it tried to completely remove the reformists from power. To briefly name some of the main factors which made the IRG a main player in politics-economic-security-military-intelligence, I would list the Iran-Iraq war (which made the IRG a strong military and security force), the post-war reconstruction during Rafsanjani (which made the IRG an important economic player), the growth of dissatisfaction among different social classes of society and some uprising by the people in different areas of Iran (which caused the need for IRG to become a major player to save the establishment from the danger of the people), the reform movement and the relative freedom of the media (which caused Khamenei to rely on IRG to save his power and smash the media and restrict the new waves of sociopolitical activism), the danger of a US-Israel military invasion of Iran (which urged IRG to become stronger than ever to protect Iran’s sovereignty against a military invasion by US-Israel), the Bush administration’s harsh treatment of the reformists during Khatami in both nuclear energy and calling Iran the access of evil (which caused IRG to claim that its way of treating the US would serve Iran’s interests better), etc.

    Note that Khomeini was against the interference of IRG or any military organization in politics. Thus one of the reasons that reformists mention Khomeini and his ways as their mentor or ideals is to denounce the militarization of politics in Iran.

    Yes, Mr. and Ms. Leverett are right in claiming that this wave of newly rich younger generation, the generation of the Iran-Iraq war and not the 1979 revolution, is not necessarily in favor of clerics and currently is monopolizing the power. Mr. and Ms. Leverett seem to acknowledge that the 2009 presidential election was an IRG coup to monopolize power for some of its members. We can go back to the 2005 presidential election when IRG and Basij forces imposed their interests. Note that Ahmadinejad’s announced ministers were mostly IRG members. This group is usually against the clerics, claiming that the clerics and their children are economically corrupted. Also, IRG was highly responsible for smashing the opposition groups during the Iran-Iraq war inside and outside the country and many of their forces sacrificed their lives in that long war. Thus they claim to be the real owners of the post-1979 revolution regime. What Mr. and Ms. Levrett are belittling and disregarding though, is the power of the people in the Green Movement who empty-handedly stand up to a emptied regime in which only a military force remains. Sorry to disappoint you, Mr. and Ms. Leverett, the IRI has a hard time to silence people with guns, rapes, batons, prisons, and bullets when people are not having their bread, butter, and basic human rights.

    Leverett(s) say: “A comparable process of generational succession has yet to take place in the upper echelons of the Islamic Republic’s reform movement. Since President Khatami left office in 2005, reformists have been in disarray, and ambivalence about the legacy of Khatami’s presidency continues to undermine their political prospects. Above all, the reformists’ political difficulties are reflected in the absence of an obvious successor to Khatami. Clearly, neither Mousavi nor Karroubi can fulfill this role.Thus, the ongoing political competition in the Islamic Republic between reformists and conservatives is more complicated than most Western analysts and commentators recognize. On the one hand, Iranian voters seem to like some parts of the reformist agenda. But reformists, at this point, lack an effective standard-bearer for that agenda. Reformists also suffer from perceptions that they are not deeply engaged with bread-and-butter issues of primary concern to many lower-class and even middle-class voters and that they did not really “deliver” on their agenda when in charge of both the presidency and the parliament”.

    Young people in Iran are mostly unsatisfied with the lack of socio-political freedom, unemployment, sky-rocketing prices of food and housing, and more. None of these factors with which young people have issues is going to be resolved or even addressed by the principalists. Principalists are openly against socio-political freedom and economic disparities and the rate of privatization has become much bigger and faster after Ahmadinejad came to power.

    It’s so funny because Mr. and Ms. Leverett explain here why people of Iran are disillusioned with the possibility and potential of meaningful reform from within the establishment. It’s disturbingly untruthful, however, when Mr. and Ms. Leverett pretend that those people disillusioned with the reformists are taking refuge in principalists. I have a hard time to believe that Mr. and Ms. Leverett’s mistake here is one of carelessness; rather, it seems to me an intentional distortion of the truth. Mr. and Ms. Leverett say: “Reformists also suffer from perceptions that they are not deeply engaged with bread-and-butter issues” How about the principalists? Aren’t principalists known for their passion of privatization (or as we call it in Persian Sepahization), import of cheap products, reduction of full-time workers to part-time ones, the spread of unpaid workers and imprisonment of worker activists, unionists, and teachers? Then which kind of logic do you use to conclude that the people who have little hope in reformists for achieving economic justice are instead in favor of principalists?
    Mr. and Ms. Leverett say: “On the one hand, Iranian voters seem to like some parts of the reformist agenda” Oh really? Who are these ghosts then? Do people find those agendas (probably Mr. and Ms. Leverett mean sociopolitical freedom) in principalists? If not, then why do you suggest that disappointment in reformists is a reason for people to switch to principalists? I know the answer Mr. and Ms. Levrett: you are just mediocre propagandists and Iranian-haters who try to represent the people, but really just represent the oppressive state.

    Leverett(s) say: “On the other hand, important parts of the conservative “platform” also appeal to Iranian voters. But, in contrast to their reformist opponents, the principalists have cultivated younger politicians who are effective representatives of their message. As we think about the future of Iranian politics, these realities leave the reformist camp at a real disadvantage. Western analysts and policy makers have yet to come to grips with this”.

    Mr. and Ms. Leverett have taken the 2009 coup too seriously. They believe that those who seek to monopolize the econo-political power in Iran (and who use the most ruthless brutality towards achieving their goals) are going to be the future of Iran’s politics. Mr. and Ms. Leverett have no hope that the Green Movement will succeed because their mentality is oriented toward the ruling elite and is unfriendly to the ordinary people of Iran. Have we ever heard Mr. and Ms. Leverett talking about the issues of Iranian ordinary people? Have we ever seen people being included in their equations? Thus Mr. and Ms. Leverett state that the future power in Iran will be the IRG. We in the Green Movement will continue our struggle against the bullies inside and outside of Iran and stand next to Mansoor Osanloo and Sohrab Erabi’s mother instead of submitting to the brutal military forces as Mr. and Ms. Leverett ask us to do so.

    I will end this piece with this question: what does it tell us about the current form of the establishment in Iran and the Green Movement that a former member of “the CIA, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the National Security Council” is so desperately against the Green Movement and is an apologist of the state’s oppression against Iranian people?

  16. Ahmad says:

    Your Analysis is far away from the truth, with lenses of non-pragmatic view. The first mistake is that you assume we have two political parties in Iran: reformist and conservatives. That is totally wrong. There is no real freedom in Iran. People in Iran are fall into two groups. First, those who think that this governing situation is progressing, they are the advocates of the “current situation”. Second, those who believe that Iran is in “downfall situation”. These people want fundamental changes. Moosavi is not a political party leader, neither literary, nor figuratively. Mossavi is just the representative for the second group, not the leader, so, what is important is the “wants” of these people not what he is saying.
    You have also taken a mistake when you depicted the factual evidences inversely. The number of dissatisfied people are growing everyday, because of the corrupted politicians and immoral system, intervention of army forces in business, weak economics, lack of freedom, lack of privacy, rude political statesmen and so on. Even many of governors feel this problem in their personal family, in that, children do not think like them.
    Your third and the most unreal claim is that there is a younger (from what?) generation of “political leaders”. It was first officially stated that about 70% of youth in the universities had voted for Moosavi, what was denied lately. But anyone in Iran know that the “current situation” is a way back to 30 years ago, what young people do not want to live in. No younger generation is really exist, as there is not enough freedom for political parties to introduce these persons to Iranian nation. You can see that two reformist parties have been shut down by the governors. Also, the young people that you supposed rule the country, are uneducated and inexperienced people who are neither popular, nor capable of exiting Iran from this situation.
    Ahmad

  17. Iranian says:

    Anyone who spends significant time in Iran knows that the GM does not exist as a significant force within Iran’s boarders. Not even among the upper classes in Tehran.

  18. Iranian says:

    Saeed Leylaz was not an expert, he was a talking head. The reason why he’s in prison is because he was one of the people behind the riots in Tehran.

  19. Pak says:

    Dear Bussed-in Basiji,

    You make some interesting points. However, I would think that opposition to “privatisation” is generally derived from the fact that nothing is actually being privatised; assets are merely being re-allocated from one public institution (the government) to another (the military). Saeed Leylaz has written extensively on the Iranian economy and offers a very interesting insight into this matter. Unfortunately, he is now in prison. Actions speak louder than words.

  20. Pak says:

    Dear Persian Gulf,

    I am still waiting for your reply. Is your paper really taking that long?

  21. Pak says:

    Once again the Leveretts publish a piece that reads more like a regime manifesto. Instead of offering a sound argument as to why the US should engage with the Iranian regime, they are openly and brazenly interfering in Iranian internal politics, which has nothing to do with these American politicians. And they are clearly ill-informed! For example, is the following line a joke?

    “Iranian “principalists” have cultivated a younger generation of political leaders to take them through coming parliamentary and presidential election cycles; “reformists” have not done this.”

    Their analysis is so shallow and out-of-context that they simply attribute the decline of the reformist movement to “disarray”. It must have taken them a whole minute, if not a second, to come up with such a detailed conclusion. Of course, there is no mention of the immense pressures imposed on the reformist movement. There is no mention of why Khatami’s administration failed. There is no mention of the mass disqualifications of reformist politicians during elections. There is no mention of targeted assassinations (Hajjarian is not in a wheelchair out of choice). There is no mention of the political interference in Iranian universities (students are not starred because they perform well). The list in endless.

    “The movement’s “counter-revolutionary” current—which is the current that is so enthusiastically supported in the West—has trumped the “reformist” current, at least in popular perceptions inside Iran.”

    This proves how ignorant the Leveretts are when it comes to Iranian politics (no surprise there – they are American at the end of the day). In fact, it is a clear indicator of just how much the regime and regime apologists fear an Iranian grass-roots reform movement. The regime will never, ever reform; thus any reform movement is automatically a “counter-revolutionary” movement. Thank you for implicitly acknowledging this! Regardless, why “counter” revolutionary? I thought the revolution happened over 31 years ago? I thought the regime is now represented by “a younger generation of laymen who “came of age” not during the Iranian revolution but fighting in the Iran-Iraq war”? Please, at least be coherent.

    “That is one reason why the Green movement’s base of popular support has declined so sharply over the past year”

    Where is your evidence? Hey, Santa Claus is going to become president of Iran tomorrow. Trust me, I know.

    Of course the Green Movement has flaws, which you correctly identify. It is young and under immense pressure. It is also very pluralistic, which you somehow spin as a negative, when in fact it is a positive and a welcome change in Iranian politics.

    Dear Leveretts, the Green Movement is clearly significant. It is significant enough to be considered a greater threat than an 8 year war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It is significant enough to send thousands upon thousands of security personnel on the streets every time there is a hint of protest. It is significant enough to make absurd claims that Iran is the most democratic nation in the World. It is significant to dedicate almost an entire blog too!

    If you are afraid that the West is over-dependent on the Green Movement, then you are doing a poor job of downplaying its significance. In fact, you are doing the opposite, so I thank you!

  22. James Canning says:

    Mousavinia,

    Bravo! The American people indeed should worry about the US military and the adverse effects on American liberty that may be resulting from the idiotic “war on terror” and remarkable stupidity in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    US stupidity in not dealing with Iran as a way to bring stability to Afghanistan is helping to gurantee failure of the US/Nato mission. Americans can thank the generals for delusional thinking that gung-ho American “can-do” spirit, and hundreds of billions of dollars, can impose on Afghanistan something willed from without.

  23. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    IranianLady
    Why don’t you tell us about these crimes. If you referring to the 5 PEJAK members, 2 Tondar members who bombed the Shiraz hosseiniye and to the Rigi brothers that would be 9 people (out the 40) who have killed and injured hundreds people and thank God Iran has the death penalty for these crimes. That leaves 31 other executions which would be nice if you informed us about. If you oppose the death penalty on principle no matter what crime was committed (mass murder, child rape, pick whichever crime you like) than this a view which is debatable and it is certainly not the view held by the majority of Iranians (or Americans). The stoning, again please tell us more about it.

    As far as newspapers, the media court meets once a week and complaints against newspapers are heard and the majority of complaints are brought by private citizens or organizations against papers under slander and libel laws. A minority of complaints are brought by public prosecutors in cases under public order and national security laws. All cases are heard by a special panel consisting of legal and media experts (not all judges) that vote on it. And yes in Iran and under Islamic law slander and libel are serious crimes and your right to say and publish whatever you like is not absolute (nor is it by the way in western countries).

    I suspect you don’t really care about the truth, you just repeat whatever you hear or read. And remember the Leverret’s job is not to be advocates of “human rights” in Iran. There job is to analyze the world as it is- not as they want it to be- and to offer policy options for the US government that best serves American interest.

  24. IranianLady says:

    It would be great if Hillary and Flynt talk about the human rights violations of the Islamic Republic, such as the execution of 40 people just last month, the highest execution rate per capita in the world, the imminent stoning of a woman this week, and the closure of scores of newspapers who want to write whatever they want to write.

  25. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    JohnH
    A major problem among western analysts (influenced by Iranian exiles) is the notion the RevGuards and Basij are somehow separate from “the people”. RevGuards and Basij are part of Iranian society. And I repeat when Reagan and Rumsfeld were buddies with Saddam they were the ones fighting him and preventing him from taking over Iran together with what was left of the Iranian army. So yes as I said earlier, there is an economic shift towards these people and it is a good thing and they deserve it. Furthermore they are more nationalist than the liberal and capitalist types around Moussavi and Rafsanjani. The issue is somewhat comparable to the way Americans in liberal areas view US veterans versus Americans in conservative areas.

    Also in the economic sphere, the Khatami era was a seamless continuation of the Rafsanjani era. In fact the agreement between Rafsanjani and Khatami was that Rafsanjani will support Khatami’s social agenda if he gets to keep his economic influence.

  26. Mousavinia says:

    The US should worry about it’s own civil rights and the role that the US military plays in politics and the economy. The Islamic Republic is strong and will not dissappear. American policymakers should try to comprehend this and throw out the garbage that “Iran experts” in the US are feeding them. This is especially important as the US is losing the war in Afghanistan.

  27. James Canning says:

    Cyrus,

    Speaking of Cuba, many analysts think that US sanctions helped to keep the Castro regime in power and impeded the growth of more personal freedom in that country.

  28. James Canning says:

    Rehmat,

    Yes, Israel has several simultaneous substantial demographic challenges. The BBC had a good report on this latest problem, just the other day (on BBC America).

  29. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Come on, by now everybody knows that the “green movement” is the illegitimate lovehcild of Mousavi and Mike Ledeen of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

    A color revolution that never was.

  30. Ahmed says:

    The funniest thing is that quite a few Green supporters are anti-Islamic zealots who back Mousavi as there is no alternative except a few grump old men who can do nothing more but talk on Persian language channels in Los Angeles. From a start they were a rabble (the protesters) fighting for an idea-freedom. Too bad they never defined a meaning of freedom and some goals.

  31. Rehmat says:

    I don’t expect the West will ever give up on its “Green Revolution” as long as Hamas and Hizbullah keep fighting Israel. However, as expected, the western mainstream media did not mention the “Blue Revolution” going on in Israel.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/jewish-racism-against-jews-in-israel/

  32. Kamran says:

    A good article.

  33. JohnH says:

    Bussed-In Basiji–thanks for the analysis. It makes a lot more sense than the drivel that is normally served up. I had heard that Ahmadinejad and Khatami had managed to pry Rafsanjani loose from control of the national oil company, but I wasn’t aware of the significance of the rest of the privatizations to Rafsanjani and Moussavi. However, the suspicion is that, while shares are passing to ordinary people, control is actually going to the Revolutionary Guards. Care to comment?

  34. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    As you probably know, Hezbollah builds sewer lines,water lines, bridges, etc., in southern Lebanon, and does so much faster and less expensively than the government itself can do. So, assistance to these public works projects will be “supporting terrorism” according to the US Supreme Court?

  35. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Arvin,
    It’s very difficult to know what to believe about Iranian suppression of protest when so much propaganda passes for reporting in the US.

  36. Fiorangela Leone says:

    slightly off-topic, but of tremendous importance for people like me who advocate FOR Iran’s rights to conduct its own affairs as a sovereign state:

    Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal law that makes it a crime to provide “material support” to foreign terrorist organizations, even if the help takes the form of training for peacefully resolving conflicts.

    State Department diktat can now trump First Amendment rights of US citizens, and peace activism is now criminalized.

    The US is becoming what we fear — or, at least, what we are propagandized to believe we should fear.

  37. Green an illusion says:

    GREEN ‘WAVE’ NEVER WAS A FACTOR IN IRANIAN POLITICS AND NEVER WILL. It was a color revolution backed by the US, Israel and EU, appeared on the scene with election ‘fraud’ slogan HOAX and died when Dr. Ahmadinejad was re-elected as President of Iran for the next four years. The enemies of Iran better to see the reality and don’t waste their $$$$$$$ on stooges and opportunists based on an illusion.

    Anyone with Persian language skills knows that many Iranians don’t pay slightest attention to the defeated candidates where Iranians found UNFIT to be president. Mousavi is considered as stooge of Rafsanjani, a corrupt business man who is close to the West and Israelis, otherwise Israel would have not allowed the Iranian pistachio, Rafsanjani’s business, into Israeli market despite Americans’ displeasure and repeated warning from them to stop it but Israelis continue to allow the flow into the market. Israel have used its fifth column, Israel lobby, to force many sanctions on Iran against American’s interest, but Israel has rejected Americans warning so far to stop the flow of pistachio.

    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/furuhashi210610.html

  38. Cyrus says:

    The Western analysts are “betting on” the Green Movement (?) because they’re still trying push the narrative that the IRI is fundamentally unpopular and about to fall, and so should not be engaged. Thirty-two years, they’ve been saying this! Indeed regimes rise and fall on their own all over the world but surely our vaunted diplomatic Corp can do better…bit then again if Cuba is any example I guess not.

  39. Mohammad says:

    While I don’t agree with Arvin that Mousavi had got the majority of the votes (which most evidence seems to point at the other way), he makes a valid argument: that reformists are not short of young politicians. Many of they have been nurtured in the Mosharekat Party’s youth branch, including both Khomeinists and more radical secularists. As Arvin pointed, many are jailed or have been jailed. MohammadReza Jalayipour and Hamze Ghalebi are two of the more moderate examples, which I think have high hopes of becoming reformist politicians in the future.

  40. Arvin says:

    “Thus, the ongoing political competition in the Islamic Republic between reformists and conservatives is more complicated than most Western analysts and commentators recognize. On the one hand, Iranian voters seem to like some parts of the reformist agenda. But reformists, at this point, lack an effective standard-bearer for that agenda. Reformists also suffer from perceptions that they are not deeply engaged with bread-and-butter issues of primary concern to many lower-class and even middle-class voters, and that they did not really “deliver” on their agenda when in charge of both the presidency and the parliament.”

    Believe it or not I actually enjoyed reading this article. It’s the only article by the Leveretts worth considering, because it seems that for the first time they actually recognized existence of an opposition and the fact that as they say “Iranian voters seem to like some parts of the reformist agenda.” (Though they continue to ignore IRI’s human rights violations and brutal crackdown of protesters over the past year). We may disagree on which parts of the reformist agenda Iranian voters like and in what percentages. But I liked this article for two reasons:

    1. It could serve as a wake up call for the Green Movement and reformists who weren’t able to deliver on their promises when they were in charge. It was in fact the hardliners and the principalists who kept them from “delivering” what they promised, but they did NOT deliver nonetheless. They can blame others about their failures for so long, but at some point they have to take responsibility for their failures and find ways to move forward and position themselves in a place where they can overcome obstacles by the hardliners and deliver on their promises of more social freedoms and political as well as economic reform.

    2. The reformers have always taken for granted their public support. I still believe a majority elected Mousavi and that the election was rigged. But in today’s Iran this doesn’t mean that Mousavi and his supporters will automatically get what they want. They actually have to work harder and FIGHT for their demands. Because the hardliners with their financial interests at stake will not give up their monopoly on power easily. Perhaps the rigging of the elections will serve as a wake up call for reformers to grow some balls! So far they have managed to get the anti-establishment votes which is a clear majority. A vote for them was a vote AGAINST the hardliners – meaning people were voting AGAINST someone not FOR anyone. But the younger generation of reformers that the Leveretts say need to come on the political scene are in fact the Green Supporters who have paid a price and have so far fought for their demands. People like Majid Tavakoli. If they manage to survive their prison terms, soon they will be a political force far more powerful than their play-it-safe “Khomeinist” reformist-minded grandpas… So ironically, the next generation of reformers are being raised by the hardliners in prisons as we speak!

  41. Bussed-In Basiji says:

    Thanks for saying this. Now please get it published in some big newspaper or go on some TV show. BTW it’s interesting that Moussavi has been crying the loudest about the privatizations that are occurring under Article 44. If any western journalists (or academics) were competent they would have figured out the reason for this. Don’t forget that long before the elections, Moussavi resigned from the Expediency Council when it agreed to the structural privatization programs. Unfortunately many of his young and naive supporters have no clue why he is slandering everyone regarding corruption in privatizations. You wanna know why? Are you ready to hear the truth? can you handle it?

    Well long time ago before the revolution there is was an Islamic-Marxists party called “Hezbe Ommati” led by Habibollah Peyman (I think he is currently living in London). Zohreh Kazemi (real name of Moussavi’s wife) and Mir Hossein were part of this group. The difference between this Islamist-marxist party and the MKO was that the MKO focused on using militant tactics whereas Hezbe Ommati focused on using non-militant tactics. Ommatis used a Marxian critique of Iranian society meaning that they viewed Iran as a feudal system that required a socialist-type government to bring it into a state-capitalist phase. The Islamic part of the Islamic-marxist is the recognition that such a shift cannot be done Iran without Islam as the key cultural element of society.

    Fast forwind, Mir Hossein becomes prime minister and at the beginning of the war the economy is nationalized. By pure accident (wink) the people that Mir Hossein puts in charge of nationalization and hiring the managers for the newly nationalized companies happen to all be former members of Hezbe Ommati. The “infiltration” (I say this with detached irony of westerners skeptical of such things) is so complete that Hezbe Ommati officially and voluntarily seizes to exist. The result is that within a few months the choice companies of the Iranian economy come under the control of these state-centric marxists with the resulting power this brings with it.

    Fast forwind, Rafsanjani presidency and his drive to “privatize” also vehemently criticized at that time by Moussavi camp. Rafsanjani privatizations result in companies going to his crew know as “Kargozarane Sazandegi” (Karbaschi, Adeli etc.) After this a tacit agreement exists between these two crews not meddle in each others turf continued during Khatami era, but the status quo becomes shaky with the insistence of the Supreme Leader on real privatization under Article 44.

    Next something happens that neither counted on. The majority of people vote for Ahmadinejad and against Rafsanjani. Not blindly but because they see the economic corruption of the Rafsanjani crew and the social corruption of the Moussavi crew and in a democratic- yes religious democratic, not secular and liberal- decide they prefer Ahmadinejad for a while given what he says during the campaign. They vote for a government that is serious about Article 44 and privatization, things like highest rate of privatization on Tehran Stock Exchange since revolution, issuing shares of privatized companies to low-income individuals and yes the serious involvement of former RevGuards and Basij AS MEMBERS OF IRANIAN SOCIETY WHO ACTUALLY FOUGHT TO PREVENT SADDAM OCCUPYING IRAN AND A PUPPET MKO GOVT. something that very few of the westernized and privileged ladies and gentlemen in north Tehran (with some notable exceptions) did who have suddenly fsallen in love with a Rafsanjani and Moussavi.

    So yes, Moussavi should be crying because 40 years of efforts by him and by Rafsanjani are thankfully being challenged. It is clear that those who benefited from these efforts would oppose Ahmadinejad. Unfortunately many young educated and smart Iranians have been used to preserve the power and privilege of Mir Hossein and Rafsanjani and at some point in their lives these young people have to take responsibility for the mistakes in judgement they have made.

  42. Persian Gulf says:

    It would be great if we could somehow see a softening of the following two extreme tendencies in the Iranian political and social system:

    حزب اللهی های متعصب، و سبزاللهی های متوهم!
    (zealous Hezbollahis, and disillusioned Sabzollahis or Greenollahis)