News

    Fallout of 2009 Iran Protests to Carry Over into New Year

    2009 marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Shah of Iran and the establishment of a new Islamic Republic to replace the monarchy. But a questionable presidential election in 2009 also sparked the largest anti-government demonstrations in Iran since that revolution.

    Supporters of Iran's defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi dressed in black during a mass protest in Tehran, 18 Jun 2009
    Supporters of Iran's defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi dressed in black during a mass protest in Tehran, 18 Jun 2009

    Multimedia

    When protests erupted over the declared outcome of the June presidential election, many Western analysts proclaimed Iran was on the eve of a new revolution that would topple the theocracy.  But it did not happen.  Not only was there was no revolution, but the theocratic rulers remain in power and many of the protesters have been arrested and tried.

    No revolution

    Some Iran-watchers say that was because the protesters were not able to draw support from the middle-class shopkeepers and merchants.  But others say the explanation is simpler. 

    The head of the National Iranian-American Council, Trita Parsi, says it is because the protesters were never demonstrating for regime change - at least not in the beginning.

    "I think the reason there was not a revolution was that they were not aiming for a revolution.  This movement started off by people demanding that their votes be counted.  As the government showed itself to be completely uncompromising and radical in its clampdown and started to use violence in the extreme, then of course the demands of the protest began to increase," said Parsi.

    Demonstrations continue

    The protests have continued, but more sporadically, and Parsi says the situation remains very, very volatile.  The protesters have gotten more radical and the government's rhetoric against the reformists has correspondingly ratcheted up as well.  Parsi says the protesters will have to bend a bit to avoid a government bid to totally wipe out the reformists.

    "If they manage to continue this fight, if they manage to continue deprive the government of any normalcy, then, in order for them to actually claim victory, they need to offer a way out.  Otherwise, the government will feel they have no other option but to be radical as well," said Parsi.

    Reformists criticized

    Senior officials have publicly criticized key reformist figures, like Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and former presidents Mohammad Khatemi and Hashemi Rafsanjani for the protests but these figures remain at liberty. 

    Editor Alex Vatanka, of the English-language newsletter on the Islamic world, Jane's Islamic Affairs, says that may indicate President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have concerns about a potentially explosive situation.

    "If Khamenei or Ahmadinejad factions were so powerful, why are they not arresting Rafsanjani and Khatemi and Moussavi and Karroubi?  Why are these people, despite the allegations they are making, why are they still free?  That right away brings to my mind the question, maybe they are not powerful enough, brave enough, to do it because they know might unleash something they can not control," said Vatanka. 

    Nuclear complications

    The protests complicated U.S. President Barack Obama's plans to reach out to Tehran and Iran's response to those overtures, particularly on the sensitive nuclear issue.

    Iran continues to insist it has only a peaceful nuclear program.  But in October Iran appeared to finally agree in principle to sending nuclear material to a third country for enrichment.  But Iranian officials then backed away from the proposed deal after it came under criticism in Tehran.

    Alex Vatanka says it is not clear if the shifting response was a sign of political overreach by President Ahmadinejad or a stalling tactic.

    "Question is, was this miscommunication?  Was this Ahmadinejad's people getting ahead of themselves in pursuit of perhaps reaching some sort of dialogue with the West and Khamenei being upset about it and stopping it in Tehran? Or is it a deliberate, fully calculated, tactical game that Iran, some have argued for a while, plays, which is, plays for time?" asked Vatanka.

    Other analysts suggest it was because power is too deeply fractured and diffuse for Iran's leaders to reach a consensus on such a sensitive issue.

    Will sanctions work?

    Whatever the reason, the response has heightened a push for new sanctions against Iran at the UN and from the U.S. Congress as well. But analysts say any sanctions should be carefully calibrated against the government of Iran and not the Iranian people. 

    Trita Parsi says sanctions could backfire against the reformist movement.

    "What you do not want to do is put the opposition into a position in which they suddenly now, instead of focusing their energy on challenging Ahmadinejad, have to defend themselves and defend their nationalistic credentials by coming out and blasting the U.S. sanctions.  The opposition is in a tough position enough fighting such a brutal, repressive system," said Parsi.

    But analysts point out that no significant sanctions will be coming without the backing of Russia and China.  Both have so far been reluctant to back such measures. 
     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora