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September 16, 2003

Iran and the Future Scenarios
Arash Bateni  [info|posts]

choice.jpg On September 13, Ramin Jahaanbegloo, an Iranian intelectual, gave a lecture at the University of Toronto (read his similar speech in Washington). After the lecture we gathered in a nearby coffee shop and had a discussion about Iran considering the fact that the current reformist movement has virtually come to a dead end. We talked about three possible scenarios for the near future.

A break up and overthrowing of the current government is one scenario. It has been getting more possibility recently as the Iranian government shows less potential for any reform. This scenario could be triggered by street uprisings similar to those happened in recent years in Eslamshahr or even among the university students. However it requires participation of the people, better organization, and an established opposition group/party; None of which exist now.

The second scenario is a military coup d'etat by the hardliners. In case of any instability the chance of this scenario increases to prevent the first one! Although the hardliners have lost their positions to some extent, there is little doubt that they still have enough power to change the equations suddenly.

The third possible scenario and the most probable one in my opinion is a transfer of power to the centrists, i.e. the pragmatic politicians/clerics under the leadership of Hashemi Rafsanjani. There are indications that the centrists are getting more hope and power every day as the left-wing reformists fail to deliver their promises and the right-wing conservatives continue to loose their public support.

How likely is the third scenario, after the much publicized defeat of Hashemi and his allies at the parliamentary election? The Economist magazine believes it to be very likely! "Pragmatism, the flavour of the day" [available to subscribers only] is an article describing the desire of Iran to move toward more pragmatic approaches.

Comments
Steppenwolf at September 16, 2003 02:17 PM [permalink]:

Still, many of us has not rejected the idea that the level of questioning Islamic republic is not separating left and right and so called “centrist”, as Akbar Ganji has mentioned in his 110 page write-up, the problem of IR will not be solved by changing from left to right or to “Center”, all the clerics governing 60 million Iranians, are committed to some rules which have let them enter the power cast, and they won’t sacrifice them for the people whom they name “second hand citizens”.

Regarding Iranian government policy dead-end, I believe there are some probable choices for Iran ‘s future and I am asking your ideas about them, before writing down the ideas, I want you to consider the potential in today’s Iran for “anarchy”. It is a bitter fact that depression and the failure of the great hope which was created in young Iranian ‘s souls for reform, and the compilation of many unresolved wants have taken the society to the brink of a collapse. I believe those shouts and whole street unrests and those people watching and applauding, are a live evidence for the claim, Blind anger will take the country to some indefinite and harsh anarchy.
More generally speaking:
A period of anarchy will be inevitable, but the question is: how this anarchy will go to a stable point? Will it be self-consistent and reach to calm by itself or outsiders will try to do it for us?
1- Anarchy after beginning, does not ask about the reasons, about the facts or about the situation, which initiated it, the very clear example: Balkan! The source of ignition can be different but human disorder has the same shape, the bombings in lawless and wrecked Iraq kills the same way it was killing in early days of revolutionary Iran. If US see his benefits to stay silent about the chaos and just head it in a secret way, by stimulating different hostile groups; Iran will not end in a unified future. A long lasting anarchy will be continuing in the region, which can make the stage ready for American neo-colonizing the area.
2- Direct interaction: US can interfere in the inner equations of Iran’s diplomacy by many different tools, if they try to have a Pro-American government, they can achieve it from many different ways like using “centrists” or whatever, that ‘s why those opportunist clerics once upon a while use some friendly words not to lose this probability. If they do not comply, outer world headed by US can back some different radical pro-western groups, the fact that how these alternatives can be promising for Iran’s future depends on how much, Iran’s thinkers care about their country.

saoshyant at September 16, 2003 02:31 PM [permalink]:

Dear Arash Bateni (I wonder how the two go together ;), just a joke),

Thanks very much, I and Arash Jallali were just debating the ramifications of a surgical or all out invasion by foreign powers under the Tragedy posting (we just got deviated a bit from his main points).

Your postign does not clarify which case scenario you personally prefer to happen.

I have another question as well. Has Iran gone beyond a point of no-return concerning the necessity of some kind of legitimacy to rule?

What I mean is as simple as this: can any body stage a coup and/or suppress people, and yet continue to survive, by just putting a lid on people's anger and thinking that no explosion may ensue? Especially when there is an AMERICA hovering over its head, on both sides (East and West) and from underneath (from south, the Forever 'Persian' Gulf)?

What do you think?

saoshyant at September 16, 2003 08:20 PM [permalink]:

One point of clarification, by "Forever Persian Gulf", I am not being sarcastic. For some odd reason during my international trips, I happened to realize when I say the Forever Persian Gulf, people around me keep saying the "Persian Gulf", instead of just saying the "Gulf".

Arash at September 17, 2003 09:23 AM [permalink]:

Dear saoshyant: regarding you question about my personal preference, naturally I don’t like the coup case. The break-up scenario can also be very risky (see steppenwolf comment). However, the third scenario may need more consideration. Actually, there was a sentence at the end of my note, saying that I will discuss the possibility and outcomes of the third scenario in the following notes. The sentence was deleted by the board of editors, but I am still planning to further evaluate this case.

I simply do not have the knowledge to answer your second question (the necessity of some kind of legitimacy). But it seems to me that the regime does not much care about the American hovering!

Arash at September 17, 2003 09:25 AM [permalink]:

I absolutely agree with steppenwolf, regarding the possible outcomes of the uprising (i.e. a long lasting anarchy or a direct interaction of US). Actually that’s why the students have tried to limit the boundaries of their demonstrations: to prevent an uncontrolled anarchy.

However, I would disagree with your sentence that “a period of anarchy will be inevitable”. As I mentioned in my note the uprising/anarchy would be just one of the possible scenarios (not the most possible one, in my opinion).

Steppenwolf at September 17, 2003 12:31 PM [permalink]:

Arash, "inevitable anarchy" may not be a close event to "now", but what makes it "inevitable", are the major defects of IR constitutions and governor's will to make a closed loop in Iran's political interactions. I am grabbing your attention to the fact that Islamic republic Constitution cannot tolerate a reform, because using many intelligent ways, they have blocked the escapes for change. As you mentioned they might be convinced to go to a way in the middle, but this does not mean: "Iran is going toward tolerance and positive spirit of pluralism". The only people, who can make changes in the IR's future like aiming it to moderate directions, are of such power in IR harmony, which can only achieved by a sincere attachment to its dogmas and special rules of the Oligarchy. So definitely these people won't take the country's future to a stage ahead, it might take many years, but it does not mean a "change", it is an obstacle to change. Does any one think that Rafsanjani will be a source of reform in this country?!

A Reader at September 17, 2003 04:09 PM [permalink]:

Since there are a million Arashs in the world, could Arashs please write their FULL family name?

http://www.arash.com/arash/names/index.asp?alph=A

An Iranian Student at September 19, 2003 03:37 AM [permalink]:

I think what you might be ignoring in your assessment is the fact that after 9/11, American policy changed substantially especially in regard to the middle east.
In my view there is no chance Americans would accept Rafsanjani and his gang as a long term solution now, especially after his speeches about an Islamic A-Bomb or how only one would be enough to finish Israel....
The world has changed a lot since the early 90s when Rafsasnji could win some backing with his well known methods.

Arash Jalali at September 19, 2003 04:10 AM [permalink]:

I am too not sure about Rafsanjani being endorsed (or rather made a secret deal with) by the Americans either. However, I cannot completely reject the possibility. He and his Mafia have always proved to be very skillful in putting lucrative offers on the table and he is among the few people who can make very positive remarks without being persecuted by the justice department. He has recently suggested that the council of guardians should not base their rulings on the decrees of only a single person whoever he might be, i.e. even if it is the supreme leader. I am sure he has not really changed his views but he is someone who has no problem shifting positions.

It is true that America's policies have changed a lot since 9/11, but I think given the expereince in Iraq, they might be starting to realize that direct action in Iran is not feasible for them in the near future. If they can find someone as powerful as Rafsanjani, who is capable of easily adopting a new face and making sure American interests in the region are secured, then they will give making deals with him a very serious thought.


saoshyant at September 19, 2003 11:18 AM [permalink]:

I tend to agree with Arash J. The Islamic Republic of Iran's elite have provent to be amongst the most survivalist of all autocratic oligarchies in the region.

I would further add that when some unbalanced psycho like Ghaddafi of Libya is forced to compromise, it is inevitable that there would not be a power crisis amongst the ultra-conservatives of today and pragmatic opportunist ones (such as Rafsanjani) at the time of heavy pressure.

Nonetheless, I wonder if we are indeed witnessing that time of heavy pressure. I just do not see that the US is actively exerting the pressure necessary to force the conservatives to undergo a change of heart and/or get rid of some the most ardent advocates of no-compromise that easily.

Actually, I am not familiar that much with the inner working of the power structure and do not know if Jannati, Yazdi, and Kashani of the Guardian Council together do yield to Rafsanjani as a matter of principle or not?

The rummour had it at the time that Rafsanjani forced Ayatollah Khomeini to accept the UN 598 resolution. I wonder if Rafsanjani can command the same amount influence as per Khamenei, if the situation gets worse for the "Maslihati Nizami Islami".

I also remember that in the early 1990s when the late Central Bank Governor Noorbaksh and Rafsanjani, after an article published by Mojerani called Direct Negotiations in Ettela'at Daily, wanted to startsome type of negotiations with the US, Khamenei and the Guardians and Yazdi opposed it vehemently and were joined by Mohtashami and Karrubi.

Today, everything has changed and I am totally confused to see Motashami (one of the founders of the Hezbollah of Lebanon) seems to be in the campe of those who want a detent, if not entent, with the US. Although, I might be mistaken: Are the reformists united in foreign policy as well?

I think either of the Arashs or someone who reads Iranian papers on a daily basis can answer, roughly, some of my questions.

A Reader at October 27, 2003 08:40 PM [permalink]:
Why I am not a Monarchist? While I was contemplating unveiling my interior motive of writing an article about why I am not a monarchist, I recalled the words of Sophocles. He said, "Man is only a trivial shadow", and the words of Calderon that life is only a dream. If this is indeed true, any active-minded human being should ask himself why a man must obey another man for life in that dream? When ordinary circumstances dwell within the secret depths of our being, We must start questioning and coming up with the right answers as to why a man should unconditionally worship and praise another man or woman in the most disgusting and insulting fashion in humanity? The history of mankind is replete with many tales of despotic kings and tyrant queens and a variety of little despotic princes and princesses. Since the beginning of time, the egomaniacal tyrants wrecked havoc on humanity and have steadily tended to efface those who stood up and faced this monster, this serpent who call himself the shadow of God, the light of the Almighty and the Lord of his servants. Samuel Rutherford, stated "that since all men are born free, there is no reason in nature why one man should be king and lord over another". Rutherford went on to assert that "no man bringeth out of the womb with him a Sceptre and a crown on his head". Therefore it is the "public, which is feebleminded...will never be able to preserve its individual reactions from the tricks of the exploiter. The public is and always will be exploited", said Mr. D.H. Lawrence As we march through life, we all are followed by an invisible and ever present recording device that registers everything we do and all that we have done and accomplished. This is called history. In the era of the Internet and information, no sovereign, no dictators can hide in their palaces and ignite their torture chambers, without someone else on the other side of world hearing about it. John C. Calhoun said, " The very essence of a few governments consist in considering offices as public trustees, bestowed for good of the country, and not for the benefit of an individual or party." And followed by Billy Mitchell, " The best guarantee of a just, equitable and pluralist society lies in a system of representative democracy where all power is vested in, and derived from, the common people. It is imperative that government is not only composed of representatives of the people but that it is accountable to them at all times". Our own Persia has also gone through her share of many Kings. Some good kings and some bad kings. It is like good cops, and bad cops. This is part of our history and it cannot be changed. The secular press of the day and secular historians would consider Cyrus the Great of Persia, who established the first Human rights charter some twenty-five hundred years ago, a good king. However, we have also had our share of terrible kings who were brutal, merciless, and ruled with iron fists. We do not need to go too deeply into the history books to find such men who ruled Iran with absolute iron fists. My question to my compatriots is this: is it fair to a nation, which lost hundreds of thousands of people to end this dogmatic, absolute, despotic in nature serpent, to resurrect and revive the rule of boots? Should we make the same mistake we have made before, simply because our country is in worse shape than it was before becoming Islamic? Please let me answer this with a sweet Parsi axiom, " Nish-e aghrab nah ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]