If this military dictatorship of the mullahtariat continues to appease its working-class support base with a little redistribution of oil revenues, they can stay in power for a long time.
The West may try to boycott them – but not Russia and China, as both made it clear in no time. Both are the driving force of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), of which Iran is an observer and sooner, rather than later, will be a member. Iran’s oil and gas are absolutely crucial to Europe – not to mention Asia. Nobody’s going to embargo Iran’s oil exports. So the military dictatorship of the mullahtariat will be able to repress and suppress whatever comes its way, using or not using Shi’ite eschatology to justify it.
There are echoes of the former Soviet Union in all of this. But what happened in the streets is more like Prague 1968 – and not the turbulence before the death of communism in 1989. In the end, the revolution was not YouTubed and Twittered simply because there was no revolution. The army – the IRGC – didn’t support the people. And the bazaari merchants and the oil and gas industry workers didn’t go on strike.
People were angry because they felt their vote had been stolen: there was nothing ideological about that. When they took to the streets they made clear that they wanted a better economy, less unemployment, a less stifling regime, a little more freedom of speech and of dress for women, less fiery rhetoric from Ahmadinejad, in sum, a better life. But on the other side of the spectrum there were the millions of pious Basiji – who are very happy with the meager and shabby existence the revolution grants them and who remain deeply, deeply alienated from Western culture.
This doesn’t mean this was a Gucci, YouTube, Twitter uprising of the petit-bourgeoisie. It’s easy to fall into this temptation as the people in the streets of Tehran were supported by the West en masse. But to believe that Iran’s national interest and the aspirations of the excluded Iranian masses will be defended by this new military dictatorship of the mullahtariat is to completely miss the point. [continued…]