First a vignette. My Iraqi friend goes to her favorite Persian restaurant in NOVA and asks the owner, a nice Persian fellow what he though of the protests in Iran if he thought it would lead to revolution and he said only if America intervenes. How so my friend asks. He responds only American can stop the problems in Iran because they are behind the Iranian government. The Americans control the Mullah government he says.
Second vignette. Shi’a parents of an Iraq friend, both well educated and liberal in many ways complain my friend is becoming too Americanized and complain the problems in Iraq are all because of the United States and their support/opposition to/ for the militant Shi’a groups such as the Badr organization, The Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asaib al Haq. It wasn’t clear if the Shi’a militants are the good guys or the bad guys, but in reality the bottom line is that the continuing turmoil is the fault of the United States.
Realistically had there been no Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam would still be running Iraq, or some members of the Takriti clan, probably Uday and Qusay. But most Arabs continue to believe that somehow a perfect world can be achieved if only the right leader is in power. Shades of gray are rarely considered in the Arab culture or Iranian for that matter.
Having written those two examples, which are by no means isolated opinions, how can we see a successful Iranian revolt coming to fruition with a democratically elected leadership?There is no a single Arab, Iranian, or Turkish democratic nation in the Middle East. Since the advent of Erdogan one can cross Turkey off the democracy list. Why is this?
Well, Democracy is difficult and requires many decades, are more likely centuries of development, and it is an extremely fragile form of government.
In the West and the United States, we see the politicization of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies and a willful blatant disregard of laws the establishment elite do not like. The trends are all in the wrong direction and as usual most people are apathetic and unwilling to face the truth.
The Middle Eastern societies simply do not have the political culture that allows a democratic trend to thrive. Majority rule does not define democracy. Only if the minorities in political orientation, races, religion are protected and allowed full participation in the political process. Even under the Ottoman rule, and the Millet system, while Jews and Christians at times rose to positions of wealth and power, but that was only as long :as they knew their place.” The Jews are gone, evicted or left due to understanding thy had no future and only a few Christians remain, hostage to the Islamic governments that use them as political fodder Example The “swine flu” epidemic in Egypt in which the livelihoods of Christian pig farmers were eliminated because the ruler needed to blame someone other then the usual incompetence and indifference of the government.
So in Iran I would love to see some sort of democratic government emerge from the wreckage of the Mullah regime but I cannot make myself believe it. Each morning I check to see if the protests are sill going on in Iran and happy if they are but not sure how much I am reading is true. Is it all just wishful thinking?
The protests, as they are occurring now, are unlikely to lead to anything revolutionary…. why?
–They have no central leadership
–Iran is a multi-ethnic, multi national society with centuries of antipathy toward one another. Kurds, Baluchis, Turkoman, Arabs, Azeris and many diverse tribes all want a voice. Will the patricians of the Persian elite allow it? I doubt it.
–Against the Ethno/religious leadership of Persians intertwined with the economic power of the Mullahs and the military power of the SS of Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Brown Shirts of Iran, the Basij, ordinary people have no chance. As in all despotic lands people are denied weapons of any real use and are powerless. The power to take away ones livelihood by state machinery, using executive powers, -as we are beginning to see here in the United States- is more effective in curtailing uprisings than using capital punishment.
So unless the Despotic mullahs, the IRGC and Basij suddenly lose heart and thrown in the towel as the Shah did , I see no future for the continued protest and uprisings in Iran. I fervently wish otherwise but I just do not see it.