Iran Explodes Again

It took a while for the American media to catch on, but there are anti-government and anti-fundamentalist protests erupting all over Iran:

The largest public display of discontent in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement has brought about a series of tweets from US President Donald Trump, pushback from the Iranian government and a scene that might have been unfathomable a decade ago — protesters challenging the rule of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Nominally, the protests are about Iran’s bad economy. But I suspect, as in 2009, there is more to it than that: a younger generation that chafes under the iron rule of the mullahs and wants Iran to move into … well, at least the 19th century. Trump has tweeted in support of it, a move I am a bit dubious of. The Iranians have a long memory of how the US propped up the Shah and it would be easy for the government to cast the protests as US meddling. However … well, I’ll get into that in a second.

Naturally, everyone is scrambling to claim credit for the protests. The Trumpists are claiming that Trump has inspired the protests because reasons. The Obamaists are given him credit because of the nuclear deal, which made it harder for the Iranian government to blame us for their spectacular incompetence and corruption. The Obama explanation sounds a little more plausible to me. I’ve never been convinced that sanctions do anything but empower dictators at the expense of the populace (see, e.g., North Korea, Cuba, Russia and Iran). We saw, with the collapse of the Communist Block, how a little bit of prosperity can fuel demands for true freedom. However …

OK, here’s the thing about that last two paragraphs. It’s tempting to try to wedge this is into our political tribalism. But the world does not revolve around the United States. Maybe Trump’s open support or Obama’s silence make a difference, but I really doubt it. The US will get blamed for the protests no matter what we do. And I don’t think the protesters really care what the President of the United States says. They’re far more concerned with what’s going on in their own country. And maybe Obama’s nuclear deal or Trump’s [insert something Trump didn’t do which he’ll claim credit for anyway] made a difference. But again, the protests happened when the sanctions were still in place.

No, I think this has way more to do with … stay with me here … Iran and the Iranians. They have a large population of young people who don’t want to live under a theocratic regime. This undercurrent has always been there — people I know who’ve been to Iran tell me it is far more pro-US than the media would have you believe. For example, they held vigils for the fallen on 9/11. I don’t think Iran’s going to become a secular Western non-Israel-hating state anytime soon. But we’ve seen a lot of baby steps toward a more moderate regime. And one of these days — maybe now, maybe ten years from now — we’re going to a big step in that direction.

So what should we do? Again, I don’t think it will make a huge difference what we do. But tempered statements of support for the people are probably fine. Maybe we can even hint at moderating sanctions further with regime change.

I’m just glad we’ve spent the last 20 years ignoring the neocon morons who wanted us to start bombing.

14 comments:

  1. richtaylor365

    Maybe Trump’s open support or Obama’s silence make a difference, but I really doubt it

    Real live Iranians, those in the actual fight, don’t doubt it one bit;

    Those protesters are being buoyed by messages from the Trump administration, says the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI),  a coalition of democratic Iranian groups and personalities.

    —–

    Safavi said: “When millions of Iranians poured onto the streets in 2009, the Obama administration reached out to the Supreme Leader Khamenei, enabling him and his president to suppress the uprising. President Trump’s expression of support for the Iranian people and his condemnation of the arrests of the protests send an encouraging signal to all those who want to see Iran liberated from the yoke of the medievalist mullahs.”

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  2. richtaylor365

    So…………….what are you saying? That they are fake Iranians who have a secret agenda and don’t speak for the protesters? Clearly their aims and those of the protesters are synonymous. You said you doubted whether Trump’s support made a difference, here is an Iranian organization that says it has, that’s all.

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  3. Hal_10000 *

    I’m saying NCRI is part of the People’s Mujahadeen, have been designated a terrorist organization and their main interest is in replace Iran’s current mullahs with their own.

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  4. richtaylor365

    A terrorist organization who has offices all over the world including one in Washington DC (somebody should notify DHS) now I’ve heard everything. Ya think Ali Safavi, the head NCRI official in Washington DC carpools in with al-Baghdadi?

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  5. richtaylor365

    Not sure where you got the idea that the NCRI wants to,”replace Iran’s current mullahs with their own.” 

    There own website espouses a democratic solution to Khomeini.

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  6. stogy

    Rich, the NCRI is the political arm of the MEK, a group that worked with Saddam Hussein in attacks on both Iranians and Iraqis. This includes widespread allegations of human rights abuses against the Kurds, bombing of civilians in Iran, and a long history of atrocities against military and non-military targets. US tacit support for them was used across the ME throughout the Bush and Obama administration was completely hypocritical about terrorism – i.e. supporting terror when it is used on our enemies is fine, when used on us it should be condemned. The decision to delist them as a terrorist group in the US was taken by Hillari Clinton, among the very worst decisions she made while SoS.

    The MEK and NCRI have absolutely zero support within Iran – the best way to destroy the current uprising (which I completely support) woud be to link them to the NCRI and the MEK. By all means, cite support for Trump’s agenda in Iran, but this particular link is an own goal.

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  7. stogy

    Sorry, should have checked that for typos – I meant to say:

    US tacit support for the  MEK was used across the ME to demonstrate that the Bush and Obama administration was completely hypocritical about terrorism – i.e. supporting terror when it is used on our enemies is fine, when used on us it should be condemned. 

     

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  8. richtaylor365

    Stogy, thanks for the info, very helpful, a few questions;

    Clearly any support the protesters get from international on lookers, even if it is Trump tweets, his lobbying other nations to support the protesters or his willingness to impose fresh sanctions on Iran for violent government crackdowns , is welcome news to those actually in the fight, correct? And Obama’s shameful silence in a rigged election and acquiescence to the Guardian Council certainly hurt the protest movement, correct?

    Also, Hal mentions continual animosity in Iran over our backing of the Shah, I disagree. Young adults, the backbone of the protest movement, do not remember or hardly care about what happened 60 years ago. And those that do, take a different tone;

    In a number of cities, demonstrators have expressed nostalgia for the last monarchical rulers of Iran, the Pahlavi dynasty, by evoking the name of its founder Reza Shah. Many Iranians consider Reza Shah to be the father of modern Iran and his era is associated with a time of economic prosperity.

    Thoughts?

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  9. stogy

    Clearly any support the protesters get from international on lookers, even if it is Trump tweets, his lobbying other nations to support the protesters or his willingness to impose fresh sanctions on Iran for violent government crackdowns , is welcome news to those actually in the fight, correct? 

    I highly doubt it. I woke up to the news that Khomeni was blaming the protests on international interference. So every time Trump fires off a tweet he is actually playing into the ruling cabal’s hands.

    The protestors need to show that their demands are local and not the result of an international plot. The only legitimate role for the international community here is to condemn the inappropriate use of violence against protestors, and the main tool for that may well be sanctions.

    Young adults, the backbone of the protest movement, do not remember or hardly care about what happened 60 years ago. 

    Heh. I’ve met Mexicans who are still angry over 1848. And Serbs who still carry a chip over  1389. There is a difference between being on the winning (‘let it go’)and the losing side (‘carry it round forever’). So Iranians do remember.

    I have never met an Iranian I didn’t like. All hated the ruling council. But none of them was ever calling for greater US involvement in their affairs.

     

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  10. richtaylor365

     But none of them was ever calling for greater US involvement in their affairs.

    That is not what this is about. No nation wants another nation meddling in their affairs, but I think you too easily dismiss the importance of moral support from democratic nations to those fledgling democracies in their gestation process;

    If only the North Koreans would follow suit.

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  11. stogy

    To some extent. But much better if that moral support comes from non-government groups. Otherwise it is too easily used to discredit protests as foreign meddling.

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  12. richtaylor365

    Another Obama official who thinks Trump is doing the right thing while Obama didn’t;

    Former President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Israel and Senior National Security Adviser Dan Shapiro lamented his administration’s decision not to vocally support Iranian protesters in 2009 in an interview with the New York Times.

    Obama offered only tepid support to thousands of Iranian protesters in 2009 drawing intense criticism. “For a lot of us who were in the administration, there is some regret,” Shapiro admitted, adding, “It’s inspiring to see Iranian citizens going into the streets to protest a brutal and corrupt regime.” Shapiro’s sentiments were shared by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who wrote in 2014, “I came to regret that we did not speak out more forcefully and rally others to do the same.”

     

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