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January 28, 2004

Ad Inferna per Aspera: Part I
Kaveh Khodjasteh  [info|posts]

inferna.jpgThe coming year is expected to be a trying year for the Iranian government, in both of elected and non-elected parts. I wanted to document and list some of the most important challenges that the Iranian government shall face in the coming year here.

1. The Election Crisis: As almost everyone expected, but not many said, the Guardian Council decided to vet most of the Iranian parliament candidatory hopefuls, before they faced a public vote. Some interpret this as a power play between the left and right in the Iranian government and some expect more important political consequences.

2. Presidential Elections in Iran: Another equally important but often silenced question, has to do with the coming presidential elections in Iran, expected actually in no sooner than a year, if the current government finishes its term. The reformists [which I shall not dignify to the level of an opposition party] have no agreement on a new leader of the dying [or at best evolving] reform movement, and in fact have never campaigned on behalf of anyone in this regard. The conservatives, on the other hand, have already started campaigning on behalf of two strong candidates, namely Mohsen Rezaei and Mohammad J. Larijani. The election itself is expected to be free, but the lack of a real popular candidate will put the level of participation in the most fundamental election in Iran in a serious jeopardy.

3. Public Apathy: Along the above points another difficulty for the government will actually come from the overwhelming public apathy. People [middle class and higher, actually] seem to care less about how they are governed everyday. In case of the Iranian government that has always claimed the public trust but has never produced any loyal second generation, this could mean the end of a, once assumed, glorious path. The public participation in the elections will be a simple measure of this factor.

4. Globalization of Media:
Censorship and redirection of information is an essential tool of statesmanship since the oldest times. In case of an ideological state like that of Iran, it is the most important tool. TV and radio are under strict control of the non-elected parts of the government, while the elected part exercises a softer control on the written media, subject to harassment and prosecution by the judicial system, controlled by the non-elected parts. Foreign media, however, have been only countered with simple brute force measures such as laws against satellite dishes, actively filtering rogue websites and such. These crack-downs have already shown their shortcomings when it comes to the ever-growing international media and new technologies. Another good question would be this: Are global media going to shape the public opinion in Iran and how is the government going to react?

I'll continue this list in a coming post. My other items are the following, other ideas?
5. Elections in the US
6. Egypt-Iran relationships
7. Al-Qaeda members in Iran
8. Iran's Nuclear Programme
9. Iraq's situation

Comments
yaser at January 28, 2004 09:58 PM [permalink]:

Exagerating the pragmatist conservatives such as Larijani and M. Rezai seems to be a contagious disease spread by Hossein Derakhshan in the FToI's authors! This is just not true and based on no single evidence. Just remember the number of votes Hasan Rouhani or Mohsen Rezaie or even M. Larijani got in the previous elections.

ROO ASBE MORDE KASI SAHRT NEMIBANDE!

AmericanWoman at January 29, 2004 01:25 AM [permalink]:

Does the title of this article translate as "To Hell with Waiting?"
I vote for Egypt-Iran relations, also Iranian filmakers and films, Iranian culture abroad, like the difference between the Persians in Orange County, and the tekkie brain-drainers (Doctors, Engineers, Scientists) on the East Coast. A few Viable Economic Development plans for Iran, and what are the current governments long term goals? What are they trying to accomplish in not trusting to the Democratic Process? Are they afraid the non mullahs will make the wrong decisions?

Wessie at January 29, 2004 03:19 AM [permalink]:

"What are they trying to accomplish in not trusting to the Democratic Process? Are they afraid the non mullahs will make the wrong decisions?. . ."

Can't be anywhere near as dumb as the decisions the mullahs are making:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=586&e=8&u=/nm/20040128/wl_nm/iran_nuclear_dc

" Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment will be short-lived and the Islamic Republic will restart the program whenever it chooses, Hassan Rohani, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Wednesday. . . "

Loose Can at January 29, 2004 10:10 AM [permalink]:

Wessie,

That's not dumb. It's their way of keeping their devouted followers with themselves, without actually doing anything.

Here is my take on their nuclear capabilities (Is it irrelevant?): they already have a bomb or are very near to having it but they would never have the balls to use it anywhere, and would not even dare to declare it.

Mollahs in Iran, after Khomeini, are far from the ideological type that we seem to fear most. They are mostly after money, sex, and opium. Anything that becomes an obstacle on their plans for the above is simply out of question: A nuclear program would certainly damage Iran-EU relationships, and as soon as the flow of oil(=money) is stopped, they will loose the first one. Occupation of Afghanistan has already put pressure on the opium flow.

Mollahs are not dumb, they are just the worst kinds of human garbage.

Kaveh Kh. at January 29, 2004 11:20 AM [permalink]:

Yaser, we all know what happened in the municipal elections in Iran. I think it is you that should actually stop betting on the dead horse. The reformists simply do not have ANY alternative for the presidency, a position that might become vacant in a month, while the conservatives have quite a few, despite being weak.

Yaser at January 29, 2004 11:56 AM [permalink]:

Kaveh, I am not talking about the reformists. I am just saying whatever happens to them, New-conservatives are not the alternatives. The conservatives have a fixed number of supporters which is %15. Now, whoever, Larijani or Asgaroladi or even Mortazavi, run for the election, he will get the support of that number. So why do you emphasize on Larijani and New-Cons? Moreover, if you are counting Mohsen Rezaie as a presidential candidate for the conservatives, then I can count 100 candidates from the reformists camp.

Mehrdad at January 29, 2004 01:28 PM [permalink]:

My understaning is that the whole country is now turning into hands of certain military figures, i.e., high rank generals in SEPAAH. Almost all means of coercion are now in their hand. They have the money, the media, and the gun. All semi-govermental financial institutions like Boniad, are now under the control of SEPAAH. State radio and TV is their safe haven, Ershad ministry now is their realm. They have several newspapers, they have their own security apparatus and judiciary system is just a play tool for them. Even the leader himself has no control over them, or rather his is being controlled by them. They even have their own foreign policy channel and deal and negotiate with foreign powers. Now the only pseudo-democratic institution that remained semi-independent is Majles and it seems they are in the process of taking it over, you can realize it just by looking at the kind of arrangement of candidas in different constituency all over the country. The situation of the country now is something like the end of Ghajar era and the rise of Reza Shah. I'm sure some of these SEPAAHI figures see themselves as Reza Shah in their wet dreams. For example Mohsen Rezaei, who had Reza Shah's picture on his first website if you remember, although I dont think he could be their ideal candidate because he is too SOUKHTEH in SEPAAH view. Personally I do not take him seriously, I guess Hasan Rouhani probably could be the ideal candidate of pragmatist conservative, he has also military background. But again he is not ideal for SEPAAH, and I think they are thinking of some non-cleric figure without any real intellegence and power who can be easily manipulated some one like Velayati.

Wessie at January 29, 2004 01:49 PM [permalink]:

LooseCan I just meant "dumb" in the sense of then getting their a**es bombed if they don't stop development. The U.S. may not do it, given the recent bad press due to Iraq. However, the Israelis surely will take their capabilities out just as they bombed the Iraqi reactor. They already have a plan in place. Besides, now with the Pakistani nuclear sale scandal no one in the world is willing to look the other way.

Wessie

AmericanWoman at January 30, 2004 12:23 AM [permalink]:

Mehrdad:

"I think they are thinking of some non-cleric figure without any real intellegence and power who can be easily manipulated some one like Velayati."
Are you saying they are going to try something like what happened in the last US presidential election? It isn't so difficult. Evidently, the secret to success is to just announce that you have won, thank everyone for all their efforts, and start putting the cabinet together. So simple, so effective. I don't know if you have to have the long, tedious dronings of mind bending media coverage which carefully avoid any undue emphasis on things like issues, or record of public service, rather all money and effort goes into dirty laundry detective-work, hilarious repetitions of on camera "bloopers," polls, polls, polls, etc., so that finally even the major network anchors are so relieved to hear the good news that it is over, so they can go home and put on Baywatch again. It probably wouldn't hurt. Then, when the votes finally are counted, and the chads settle, and those pesky questions like "wha..." come up, its Wartime! Thats the way to run a country.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at January 30, 2004 12:41 AM [permalink]:

I really must protest against using terms such as 'new conservative' for islamic animals in

Iranian regime. This was one of Derakhshan's inventions, but with his recent assertion that

we should try help Howard Dean for it could become a US 2nd Khordad, I think he has already

proven his astounding shallowness and superficiality.
The system in Iran is gone. It might go soon or late, but its doom is sealed.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at January 30, 2004 12:43 AM [permalink]:

I really must protest against using terms such as 'new conservative' for islamic animals in
Iranian regime. This was one of Derakhshan's inventions, but with his recent assertion that
we should try help Howard Dean for it could become a US 2nd Khordad, I think he has already
proven his astounding shallowness and superficiality.
The system in Iran is gone. It might go soon or late, but its doom is sealed.

Kaveh Kh. at January 31, 2004 10:45 AM [permalink]:

American Woman, My Latin knowledge is substanial in its non-existence! However the title translates as "Towards Hell, through all the difficulties", compare it with the motto of Kansas, "Ad Astra per Aspera".

AmericanWoman at January 31, 2004 01:04 PM [permalink]:

Thanks Kaveh! I see it now. Aspera is "bitterness." So I think you are saying bitterness leads to Hell. I couldn't agree more. Only despair is failure. As long as you are still in there swinging there is hope for a better day.

AmericanWoman at January 31, 2004 01:23 PM [permalink]:

Actually, here is the translation on google:
http://catholic.archives.nd.edu/cgi-bin/lookit.pl?latin=aspera

It does mean "rough or severe." I was thinking that English words like Aspirin and Asperity were derived from it.

j.pickens at February 5, 2004 12:13 AM [permalink]:

AmericanWoman,
Gore lost the election, get over it.
To equate the Iranian farce of a supposed elected government with the U.S. government is just stupid.

Christopher at February 5, 2004 09:38 AM [permalink]:

What would you recommend, or want, the US to do regarding Iran? How can we drive out the Ayatollahs without having to invade? I am proud we went into Iraq, and hope the threat of invasion combined with the bravery of the Iranian people would force the Ayatollahs out. It seems are government isn't intersted in supporting regime change in Iran. What do you and your readers think?

Kaveh Kh. at February 5, 2004 10:08 AM [permalink]:

That's a hard question, Christopher. As an Iranian citizen, I don't even know what I myself should be doing, even if it is a simple question like "Will you vote in the Iranian elections?"

These dilemmas are not particular to me but apply to a generation of hopeful young Iranians who wanted a change, in a good direction, but were betrayed and left on their own. This is why we can only have "free thoughts" [even that is maybe an illusion] and not freedom.

I don't want to close the debate here, by reiterating sad and hopeless rhetoric, because on the other hand I also believe that the survivalist nature of Iranian civilisation is one of its greatest strengths. This might be a new starting point. For more on the Iranian survivalism, [sounds like a non-existent word] look at here [by Bernard Lewis]:

The Iranians

Wessie at February 5, 2004 01:29 PM [permalink]:

J. Pickens, While I agree that one cannot compare the Iranian government with that of the U.S.—I dispute your contention that Bush was "elected." Bush was NOT elected! He was appointed by the Supreme court— a grave error that we hope will be rectified by the upcoming election—before the Bushies take the whole world to fiscal ruin.

Christopher, I, for one, am not proud that we went to Iraq—particularly not proud we went without allies. Especially not proud of our intelligence failures that continue as we speak.

We have made a bad situation worse. If I were the parent of a child who has been killed or worse yet, maimed for life in this unjustified war I would forever hold GW and his monstrous administration personally responsible. We have the LARGEST deficit of ALL TIME perpetrated by the tax-cut-and-spend republicans. We have 43 million people without insurance and 3 million people out of work and lots of children being left behind. Our environmental protections, put into place over the last 20-30 years, have been dismantled and still the Bushies want more money for the military.

It is a disgrace!

Poll after poll shows that Americans want the Bushies to pay attention to our issues and not those of foreign countries. Promoting a perpetual war mentality with lies such as those spun for the Iraq WMD—45 minutes to launch—will make us paranoid and broke. This administration is a one-trick-pony—that one trick being the promotion of the fear of terror.

I have warned over and over again, since before the war, that our grandchildren will be paying for this fiasco. A one trillion deficit and counting is not exactly chicken feed.

Iran and the Arab world need to figure things out themselves. We can only assist them with engagement and education. The media and the net can be very helpful. But, they must themselves decide how they want to be governed. The U.S. nor anyone else cannot force democracy on a culture that really appears not to know what it wants.

Wessie