Sunday, June 21, 2009

Iran: What Happens After the Green Revolution?

The revolt in Iran has been by far the biggest news story over the past week. The story has many different angles to draw the interest of the world. The underdog Iranian people are standing up to their own government after under taking efforts to prevent a free and fair election. The use of Twitter as the main source of news and coordination allows the average person to feel like they are making a difference by change the colour of their computer screen. President Obama has stepped into major quicksand with his new approach to foreign policy. He is trying not to move too much to avoid being sucked in before the dust settles. Will the world see long term political changes or thing returning to normal?

The President of Iran has a very limited amount of power. The Ayatollah is the Supreme Leader, who also has a council of religous clerics to keep the government in line. Approval must be obtained to run for President which eliminates the possibility of candidates that want to make signifigant changes. There was very little difference between Ahmadinejad, Mousavi in regards to major policies such as the development of the nuclear program.

Weeks ago, Obama had apologized for too much interference in the Islamic world. His hands are tied as he tries to walk the fine line of respecting the choices Iran makes for their leadership and objecting to human rights abuses directed protestors. The result is a weak position on both issues and with the hope that the dust settles soon. Too much commentary will result in the loss of goodwill he thinks he generated from one speech.

A lot of attetion is being focussed on the protests in Tehran with Twitter as the main source of information. Twitter may be a useful tool but it is not as widespread in Iran as countries whose citizens are following the events. Reporters have been observing that the protests are coming from every segment of society. It is not limited to students or upper class urbanites as reported at the begining of the protests. If this is a mass movement why are there not protests not spreading to other regions of the country? It would make it much harder for security forces to clamp down and contain reporters covering those events. It could be as simple as the people outside of Tehran are not aware of the events in the capital. The movement is realitivly small without some sort of ground support.

The Irananian government is taking all aggressive steps to put down the rebellion. Mousavi could face exile, life in prison or death. Protestors are being rounded up and efforts are underway to minimize the amount of information that gets to the outside world. Blame has been placed on Israel, United States and United Kingdom. This serves as justification for ignoring the voices of the people.

The Ayatollah as threated death to those who continue to protest and the death counts support a willingness to follow through. The world is going to be witness to another Tianamen Square. The world was horrified. Then they moved on. Iran is already dealing with sanctions for the nuclear ambitions. Putting down the rebellion will not add more sanctions, especially with a United States firm commitment not to interfere. Many protesters will serve lengthing prison sentences and possible death. Then it will be business as usual in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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