The election of the Islamic Republic President in Iran has been carefully staged to reaffirm the rule of religious oligarchy. Only a few days ago the NY Times reported on the hard-line stance that each approved candidate had taken on the nuclear dispute between the regime and the Western alliance.
While busy with my previous post, reports came out that there is dissent among the candidates about the hard-line mandate of the supreme leader, Khamenei. It seems that the sanctions led by the U.S. are having deeper effects despite the regime's previous denials. I have to say there you go. There is the secret weapon that I was talking about in my previous blog: Western influence and intervention.
In this regard progressive forces in Iran need to realize that they do not have any joint "national" interest with the religious oligarchy, but they do have mutual interest with Europe and the U.S. Many both inside and outside Iran treat this election as a means to get closer to democracy, thinking that it could be achieved incrementally. This election has revealed and will reveal more cracks in the regime but it is unlikely to bring anybody closer to any kind of democracy. Democracy is not in the ability to vote alone. If that were the criteria, we would have been exchanging ambassadors with the cannibals.
Democracy is related to the real forces that struggle for freedom. Just a glance in the streets of Tehran would tell you who is struggling the hardest. They are the ones who are thumbing their noses at the regime. They are the women; and male intellectuals better understand this fact instead of fantasizing about their right to free speech and putting that above and beyond the real struggle of women. Any opportunity to exercise that right when and where one can express one's views that opportunity should be used to put women rights at the top of the agenda. That's where you will hit the regime at its weakest link.
The cracks in the regime are mainly due to the Western influence and intervention, as it was during Ghajar dynasty at the end of 19th century, and the umbrella that it provides for the struggle for freedom. This pivotal fact of the evolution of the Iranian society has been ignored at a great cost and unfortunately more has to be paid for its correction.
The nuclear issue and the regime's stance up to now is related to the regime's prestige and the dress up of its anti-western roots. Just imagine if the Western alliance against this regime was aimed at the regime's anti-women ideology, the core of its existence. Hard core stand of the Islamic regime on the nuclear issue gives it a nationalistic cloak which confuses many strata of the society. It prompts many to come to its assistance and even participate in its sham election. A clear stand on women's rights will tear up the façade of the regime and expose its barbaric ideology. I doubt that it would be able to stand the pressure. The disputes within the regime and the society at large will find different proportions and new alliances will emerge – more effective ones.
Some in the west might claim that the U.S. will have a dilemma if it took a hard stance on women's rights in Iran, considering its cozy relationship with Saudi regime. I believe that no such dilemma exists. The facts speak differently. Iran and Saudi Arabia have been developing at a different pace. The core question is the two regimes' stance toward emerging social movements inside each country. The Saudi's are expanding women's social rights against more backward social relations while mullahs in Iran are continuously trying to tighten and reverse the rights already gained by women in the past. I have written on this in an earlier blog "Iran: Convoluted US Foreign Policy". We just need to speak about the facts.
This secret weapon after all is not that secret. It has been there for the last couple of centuries and prompted Iran to move forward. This positive influence of the west and the need for an alliance with it has been turned upside down by the Iranian intelligentsia. This attitude of the intellectuals at its core was merely a resistance to the emerging social and economic relations that were developing in the west at a rapid pace. Marxism and the Russian Revolution of 1917 to its north gave this resistance an ideological cover. In appearance it was different from the religious and conservative past but in effect it helped its revival.
How did this weapon manifest itself in the past and what was the Iranian intelligentsia dilemma with it, more in the next post …