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Iran; Whose Country Is It, Anyway? A Postscript

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse


I knew fully well that my post-Iranian-elections commentary, IRAN; WHOSE COUNTRY IS IT, ANYWAY?, would cause a stir among the readers of my articles. I wrote that piece simply because I was so sick of watching and listening to the media chatter and the coverage of the post-elections events in Tehran.


I watched how a legitimate opposition movement - and it is quite legitimate - was being hijacked by the overzealous media hogs and spin artists, which could create a potentially bloody mess from what otherwise might have been a harbinger of a natural "normalizing" social evolution. Nobody can deny the honest truth that there has been a growing social resentment and internal unrest against the Islamic regime, which is blamed for everything from poor economic conditions, lack of necessary social and political reforms and, thanks to Mr. Ahmadinejad's crude and undiplomatic ways, to the negative image of the nation in the eyes of the global powers.   


I became sick and tired of watching and listening to so many "Chief International Correspondents" from this or that network, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX, BBC, etc., and their wide-eyed, salivating, reporters on the scene fanning the fire to raise the temperature of anxiety, actually hoping, even predicting, that the social unrest would lead to major clashes between the demonstrators and the security forces: They always love to see blood flowing; as long as it is not their blood! Some were actually predicting that this movement would bring the Iranian regime to its knees.


This also applies, quite tragically, to so many among our expatriate crowds who are voicing their support and cheering the demonstrators to remain relentlessly defiant, each group hoping that the Islamic regime would somehow morph into their particular desired system, even if it would mean massive devastation and bloodshed. Again, that devastation would not affect their lives here, and the bloodshed would not cost them a drop of their own precious blood.


When the exuberant newscasters talk about the "Iranian people" expressing their outrage by showing placards written in English, WHERE IS MY VOTE, or "DEATH TO THE DICTATOR", which segment or percentage of the Iranian people are they referring to? Are the international audiences expected to believe that the entire Iranian nation is mobilizing to stage a revolution against the regime?


Nevertheless, I am not trying to minimize or delegitimize the anger and frustrations of great numbers of Iranian people who have taken up to the streets of Iran's major cities to demonstrate their hatred for the current establishment and their impatience for their long awaited reforms.


There are, however, many legitimate issues that encompass the current events in Iran, which deserve dispassionate, objective analysis, if one is truly interested in cracking the current dilemma. These issues could prompt the following questions:


Has Iran reached the time that the legitimacy of the concept of the "velayat-e-faghih", or the authority of a Pope-like supreme religious jurist, or even a council of such jurisprudents  (Cardinals in Catholicism) should be challenged?


Is the concept of an Islamic Republic for Iran an anachronism for a nation aspiring to compete in the 21st century world?


How risky is it and how much should the nation be willing to give up in its pride and independence in order to avoid potential confrontations with the global superpowers? In other words, how much longer should the nation resist what it deems as unjust pressures from outside interests, and when should it bow down and capitulate? 


What are the ramifications of foreign influences capitalizing on major political upheavals in Iran; and how would such interference and influence peddling affect the Iranians' best national interests?


Would a more moderate, reform-oriented government be able to meet the expectations of the oppressed intelligentsia, the urbanites, especially the women, and the nation's growing, mobile phone and iPod-carrying young middle class?


Is a more moderate, reform oriented ruling class less prone to political and financial corruption than their current counterparts?


Kam Zarrabi is the author of
In Zarathushtra's Shadow

Should the Iranian people aspire toward establishing true democratic reforms, or should they press for some form of aristocracy (by the more educated and Westernized elite), a reformed mollahcrocy (by "pragmatic" or enlightened religious leaders), a benevolent dictatorship (modeled after Darius the Great), an oligarchy (ruled by the moneyed, merchant class), or a neo-socialistic bureaucracy (perhaps under the baton of an amply "enlightened" pretend-Trotskyite)?


Finally, and most significantly, who speaks for the great majorities, those ordinary people of Iran who are not as well educated or nearly as Westernized and who are more comfortable within a traditional environment and who honestly believe in their Islamic faith, not like the urbanites who grudgingly pretend it to escape the wrath of the orthodoxy? Should these "ordinary" folks not be granted the same voting rights as those "extraordinary" people parading in the streets?


I am simply talking about real democracy here! Do our demonstrators truly believe in universal suffrage, meaning the right of participation in deciding the affairs of the nation for all Iranians regardless of their socioeconomic status, or do they think that would be going too far, as, without proper guidance, they wouldn't know what's good for them?


I do not claim to have answers to these questions, only personal opinions, which might or might not prove workable for the Iranian people living and dying there in Iran.


Like most other former Iranians living abroad, I am also anxious to see what the current unrest in Iran will lead to. But unlike most commentators, Iranians or not, I do not believe that these recent developments are headed toward a significant change of course for the ship of state. I do, however, expect certain incremental changes, including some softening of the tone by the Iranian administration, leading to more meaningful reforms as we approach the next presidential elections in Iran.


I also do believe that President Obama is approaching the current Iranian issues in a very measured and intelligent manner, and hope that his strategy is not affected by congressional zealots with ulterior motives.


Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the only complements I have thus far received for my article have been from individuals from the rural areas of Iran who clearly struggled to write their e-mails to me in English!


Kam Zarrabi

Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He is available to conduct lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues, at formal and informal gatherings or academic centers anywhere in the country. To make the necessary arrangements, please contact him at More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at:

... Payvand News - 06/20/09 ... --

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