Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Iranian Turmoil--latest thinking--William O. Beeman

I recognize a real social movement when I see one, and the Iranian turmoil is likely to have long-term consequences. Eventually, I believe those agitating for governmental change are going to prevail and revise the constitution, but it will take better organization and a long time to come to fruition.

On the other hand, I recognize several things about the current regime:

1. Ahmadinejad's supporters, the Abadgaran, Isargaran, etc. had a large component of Iraq war veterans. They complained bitterly that they didn't get enough power when AN was elected, and he responded by giving many of them very important posts throughout his administration, where he had the authority. They are now dependent on his retaining is office for them to stay in power. I wrote about this in the last chapter of the Great Satan book. These folks are real power-mongers. They want to maintain their status at any cost.

2. As Neil MacFarquhar noted in today's NYT, Ayatollah Khamene'i also has a coterie of folks dependent on him. If he goes, so do they. Same deal, patron-client relations mean that they will fight fiercely to make sure he stays in his post. Thus for both AN and AK, they are shored up by people whose very lives and fortunes depend on their staying in office, and they will go to ruthless measures to see that this is accomplished.

3. The Iranian regime has saddled up to both China and Russia, and has seen how useful their models for government are--placate the people with electronic toys and slightly improved living conditions and crack down ruthlessly on dissent. I think this is what they have decided to do.

4. Russia and China have a very important stake in keeping things as they are. They have good energy and trade deals with Iran, and these relations are a counter to the United States and Europe. I would not be surprised if they have a heavy hand in this. There are confusing reports of soldiers who don't speak Persian breaking heads in Tehran and elsewhere.

William O. Beeman