Sunday, June 21, 2009

Iranian Rebellion: linear or meandering?

Popular rebellions throughout history have proved extremely difficult to gauge. Pundits and politicians attempt to project their final results. Often sparked by dour economic conditions combined with repressive governmental actions, rebellions open the portals for inundations of demands for economic and social transformations.

The French Revolution started when peasants' crops failed leading to famine. Decades of deficit spending precluded the ability of King Louis the Fourteenth's regime from doing much to alleviate the suffering. The knowledge of the aristocracy's opulence sparked the peasantry's rage. Intermingling with this anger, advocates of the Enlightenment, enthralled with novelties called representative democracy and liberty, joined the anti-monarchical chorus. The fervor eventually led to verbal and physical assaults on Catholic installations and clergy. The urge to overthrow all peripherals of the system even lead to abolition of the Christian calendar and its replacement by a week of ten days and a year that started on the day of the autumnal equinox.

The Russian Revolution grew out of opposition to Czar Nicholas the Second's decision to enter the First World War. Political minorities, factions of Marxism, anarchism and capitalism, became involved in the opposition to the monarchy; they disagreed on what form of government should replace it but all openly pushed for the end of the Czarist autocracy. Eventually, the totalitarianism of the Bolsheviks replaced the autocracy of the Czar. This upheaval led to fundamental changes such as the full-scale oppression of the Orthodox Christian Church and its institutions, even its calendar which the monarchy had used for centuries.

At the present, the world is watching the tumult occurring in Iran. After thirty years under a totalitarian government, the Islam-based oppression is chafing some teens and twenty-somethings. Despite the mullahs' efforts to isolate Iranians, increased ease of communication with the Free World has allowed the penetration of non-Islamic concepts. During the street protests, women have dared to pull back their legally-mandated head-coverings to un-Islamic standards, if not remove them completely. Reports indicate that demonstrators have yelled, "Death to the dictator!" and "Death to Khamenei!" If those have been occurring, the rebellion exceeds a mere burst of outrage by devotees of a candidate who lost an election. The suicide bombing of the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution which installed the Islamic regime, carries profound significance. That act of violence may portend opposition to the entire theocracy, not simply to the loony figurehead who holds the position of President of the Islamic regime.

Some question Mir Mousavi's alleged reformist agenda. Considering that politicians truly antipathic toward Islamic regime are never permitted to seek offices in the government, such skepticism is warranted. Therefore, one can rightfully question Mousavi's commitment to advocate for personal freedom and legitimate democracy in Iran.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never attempted to hide his mental instability. He openly denies the Nazi genocide directed at Jews. He leaves a seat vacant just in case a supposed messianic figure called the "Twelfth Imam" happens to stop by wherever Ahmadinejad is making a public appearance. He actually says with a straight face that Iran wants a nuclear energy program for strictly peaceful purposes. How can any sane person justify the pursuit of nuclear technology for energy production in a country which is one of the largest exporters of petroleum in the world? I suppose Ahmadinejad expects that the "Twelfth Imam" will provide some sort of rational explanation or just bring the nuclear weapons himself, rendering the secretive program obsolete.

No one knows how this tumult will resolve itself. The theocrats in Iran may unleash a torrent of violence to crackdown on the protestors. However, that could possibly fan the blames of opposition causing undecided Iranians to side with the anti-regime forces. Middle Eastern experts might try to predict the outcome yet they have limited access to current developments inside Iran. Intelligence agencies of various countries are undoubtedly extracting all possible information that their agents can obtain. Nevertheless, a multitude of surveillance technology and inside sources cannot provide perfect clairvoyance and clairaudience. In the end, we will only know the fate of Iran after the demonstrations have concluded, either victoriously or in vain.


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