Iran’s opposition leader defiant after new threats
Iran’s opposition leader on Friday pledged to remain defiant in the face of new threats — including calls by hard-liners for his execution — and said he was ready to sacrifice his life in defense of the people’s right to protest peacefully against the government.
Mir Hossein Mousavi’s remarks come after the worst unrest since the immediate aftermath of the disputed June presidential election. At least eight people died during anti-government protests on Sunday, including Mousavi’s nephew.
In one of his strongest statements to date, Mousavi said he was “ready for martyrdom” — the sacrifice of one’s life for a higher cause — and lashed out at the bloody crackdown the authorities are waging against the opposition. [continued…]
Israel seeks ‘crippling’ Iran sanctions
As the deadline for Iran to respond to the international community’s offer regarding its nuclear program passed Thursday, the US has toughened its rhetoric and is looking increasingly to sanctions rather than diplomacy.
That has pleased Israel, which wants strong action against the Islamic Republic as it continues to enrich uranium in defiance of international demands and has rejected US President Barack Obama’s outstretched hand.
The next step, according to Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, should be “imposing crippling sanctions” on the Teheran regime, which is in keeping with the pledge Oren said Obama made to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in May that the US would end the engagement phase toward Iran if it were unsuccessful by year’s end.
Oren told The Jerusalem Post that “there isn’t an Israeli view and an American view” on the Iranian question, but rather “one view.” [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — Israel is desperate to sustain the myth that Israeli and American interests are indistinguishable from one another, yet Israel’s insistence on pushing for crippling sanctions at this moment exposes the ugly truth: Israel regards the Iranian opposition movement as a threat.
If the Islamic Republic’s regime collapses, Israel will lose its indispensable enemy. An Israel that can no longer drum up support on the basis that it faces a so-called existential threat will find it much harder to cloak its own brutality.
The advance of democracy in Iran means the advance of Israel’s international status as a pariah state. If they could now secretly send advisers to coach Ayatollah Khamenei on how to most effectively suppress the uprising, I have little doubt the Israelis would gladly do so.
I have to disagree with your assessment for these reasons.
1) There really is little chance the opposition movement will take power. The Buddhist protesters did not take power in Myanmar, even though there was a lot of media attention focused on them at the time. Israel’s call for crushing sanctions isn’t because they fear the opposition in Iran will take over, it is because they know they will not, no matter what they, the US or the west do.
2) If they were to take over, and assuming they are an authentic movement and not a “color revolution” their policies will not be Israel friendly. No Iran government will give away the nuclear program for free. The opposition may halt it in exchange for a total end to US backed sanctions (possibly so would the current government). But that is an even worse outcome for Israel. Investment would flow into Iran by the 10’s of billions, technological exchange would fly and Iran would become the regional powerhouse, eclipsing Israel in a decade. That, far more than the nuclear program, is why sanctions have to be maintained and strengthened at all costs.
3) No authentic ran government will give up influence in Iraq or Lebanon.
4) While I agree that US/Israeli interests are not the same regarding Iran and much else, they are not entirely different. The US will not tolerate (unless it has no choice) a strong, independent Iran astride the Persian Gulf. It might accept, a Shaw like government, though. Which leads to…
5) If the opposition were ever to take power, they would quickly find that the requirements for better relations with the US are a lot more than the Nuke program or Hizbullah. No. The US will insist on having ‘input’ in who will be Iran’s new interior minister, army commanders, intelligence officials, etc. Iran has already been down that road. I doubt it wants to go there again. And yet without those concessions, they will find that the US is no less hostile than today.
Thanx and happy new year.
Lysander – thanks for you comment. I think there are much more significant differences than similarities between Iran and Myanmar. Myanmar has a military dictatorship, pure and simple. The generals merely had to show that they had power, not popularity, in order crush the uprising.
Iran’s revolutionary leaders on the other hand have to maintain some kind of facade of a popular mandate. That’s why Khamenei had to bus into Tehran thousands of supporters on Wednesday — he can’t simply rely on the Basiji and the Guard.
You’re right in saying that Israel’s call for sanctions doesn’t come directly from fear of the opposition ascending to power — from Israel’s vantage point sanctions are merely a politically necessary stepping stone prior to military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. But what the Israelis have known from prior to the summer’s elections is that the political window for military action will only remain open if Ahmadinejad stays in power. If the opposition gained power, the nuclear program would at least remain intact while a politically moderated Iranian government would quickly gain international acceptance.
As for the US being puppet-masters of such a government, I think that is far from likely. Indeed, the US will be grateful to receive whatever help it can get from Iran as it struggles to extricate itself from Afghanistan. However enduring the imperial afterglow might be, America is now a beggar nation that needs help wherever it can get it.
Thanks Mr Woodward,
I don’t want to be burdensome commenter so no more after this. Clearly Iran is different from Myanmar or China’s Tienanmen (as the Leverttes point out) But the differences are not crucial.
Without getting into an election fraud debate, It is Iran’s government has substantial public support. A lot more than the Shah ever had. Likely more than Myanmar has. Certainly, it has much more support than most western commentators care to believe. Yes, the government bussed in supporters. Yes it it might have offered free food or drink. But that alone does not draw a willing crowd of over a million chanting enthusiastically. I don’t think for a moment Egypt’s government could do that. Or Jordan’s. Or Saudi. Or Algeria’s.
This is not to say Iran government is not oppressive, or that there is no dissent, but that it has much more popular support than any of the aforementioned.
The best analogy for Iran is a Red State/Blue State divide. Think of the protesters as the anti-Vietnam war crowd. Think of the gov’t supporters as the good ol’ boys who would like nothing more than to smack those treasonous hippies upside their heads. When those two factions came to an election in 1972, the hippies here, much like in Iran, lost big.
Rest assured, as there are a good 25-35% Christian fundies in this country who view the US’ as on a divine mission to serve Israel’s every whim, there are at least that many Iranians who view Islam as under serious threat and Iran as having a divine mission to resist Islam’s oppressors. And they will not be frightened by green protesters.
On this much we agree — the Iranian government has far more support than does that of Egypt, Jordan or Saudi Arabia.
Will the division inside Iran lead to civil war, counter-revolution, peaceful reform? I don’t know, but I don’t see the protest movement fizzling out and I do think the people who make up the movement have good reason to believe that they are on the right side of history.