Iran: Trying to Control the Uncontrollable

Events in Iran since election day on June 12 have been truly breathtaking. The Islamist status quo faces a crisis of legitimacy, very reminiscent of that which raged through Eastern Europe twenty years ago, and the upsurge of popular rage further calls to mind the popular wrath that drove Shah Muhammed Reza Pahlavi from the Peacock Throne thirty years ago.

In an insightful blog post on Saturday, Laura Secor of The New Yorker asks the question though: Will this end with Wenceslaus Square, or Tienanmen Square? Can Iran have a Velvet Revolution, akin to that in Prague, or bloody repression, as in Beijing in 1989?

Michael Hirsch in Newsweek also addresses the issue, today. He points out the inherent vulnerabilities of the Islamic Republic, and that there might not be a right answer for the clerics. The could hold onto power for now, but the regime's shortcomings of legitimacy bode ill for its future.

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Comment by Jim Werbaneth on June 17, 2009 at 10:15am
That's interesting. However, did it reflect Mousavi's surge in the last three weeks?

Also even if the election were perfectly legitimate, Iran has such a history of rigging elections, including through the Guardian Council's refusal to vet reformists, that it would be reasonable to expect the worst.
Comment by Gerald-Markus Zabos on June 17, 2009 at 8:34am
I can't tell if the outcome was predetermined in any way, but this article might give a view on what an independent survey during May 2009 found out: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/14/AR2009061401757.html

In their way, the surprise was not a surprise.
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on June 17, 2009 at 7:03am
You mean that they're not still alive?!?!?

I honestly don't know how anyone could trust this election to have even a modicum of legitimacy. There were no independent monitors, none from the opposition either, no confidentiality in voting, and illiterate voters were "assisted" by government poll workers, who owed their jobs to the regime. In addition, the results were so far out of whack with any logical expectations, and the ballots were counted and certified so quickly, that one has to believe that the outcome was predetermined.
Comment by Gerald-Markus Zabos on June 17, 2009 at 5:21am
Laura Secor's assumption "There can be no question that the June 12, 2009, Iranian presidential election was stolen" might look insightful, but she presents evidence with the quality of people saying Elvis and Andy Kaufman are still alive.

Transition to more western style democracy rights will happen in future with slow speed, but the fall of Islamic Republic will never be a matter of talks. Why should it ?

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