I’d like to hear some different perspectives on what is going on in Iran right now. The huge demonstrations since the election don’t make a lot of sense to me. After all, Ahmadinejad was never the real power in that country and, whoever the president turns out to be, the true leaders of Iran wear robes and turbans and rule from mosques. The Ayatollahs have been running Iran since 1979. That’s why it’s referred to as an “Islamic Republic”.
When Khomeni came to power during the “revolution”, he promised the people of Iran a secular government and democratic elections, in addition to the dismantling of the Shah’s secret police force. Within months, it became clear that all Khomeni was doing was setting up a theocratic dictatorship with a new secret police of his own, the so-called “Revolutionary Guard.” When Khomeni died, his successor began to use the Guard in the same ways that the Shah used his secret police, and that practice is continuing today in the streets of Tehran.
I don’t see how a totalitarian theocracy can exist in today’s world. It would continually feel threatened by the increasing number of democratic, pluralistic nations, which could only result in a paranoid and belligerent leadership that is more interested in preserving its power than doing what is right. The existence of the internet has changed a lot of things in Iran, but until that country has the secular, democratically elected leadership that Ayatollah Khomeni promised nearly 30 years ago, it will never be truly free. Supreme Leader Khamenei is the ruler of Iran today. The office of president and this election does nothing but give the appearance of a democratically elected government.
It would appear that the Iranian government’s tactic of inciting anger toward the United States and Israel in order to help its citizens forget the serious problems they have in their own country has been quite effective. That’s what happens when the media is controlled by the people in power. Those that are hopeful about change in Iran should remember that a very small percent of the population in Iran have internet access, so YouTube and ‘tweeting’ will provide no panacea for that country’s troubles. In the end, it will amount to nothing more than a way to vent. While the Iranian government may have thrown out the international press and tried to block the cyber-rebellion, xenophobia is alive and well at the grass-roots level in Iran.
Despite these huge demonstrations, I don’t hold much hope at all that we will see any real change in Iran. But, it’s their country and Iranians are the ones who have to live with all the repression and violence. If demonstrating about a meaningless election makes them feel any better, who am I to suggest otherwise?