News / Middle East

Political Instability in Iran Leaves Future Somewhat Uncertain

In front of portraits of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini (L) and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joins a ceremony commemorating International Day Against Drug Abuse, at the Azadi [Freedom] spo
In front of portraits of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini (L) and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joins a ceremony commemorating International Day Against Drug Abuse, at the Azadi [Freedom] spo

Multimedia

Al Pessin

The political turmoil surrounding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has raised questions about the stability of the country’s political system, and whether there might be an opening for the country's protest movement. Some analysts believe that while the president’s position has been weakened, it does not mean a fatal split in the hardline Iranian hierarchy.

After his re-election two years ago, Iran's conservative Ahmadinejad went through a power struggle with the country's more senior conservative politicians and clerics.

Even though Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his aides ensured Ahmadinejad was declared the winner of the disputed 2009 election, they made clear the president did not have as much autonomy as he had thought.

Analysts say that the clerical establishment, at least for now, likely will allow the president to serve out his term in the interest of stability.

However, former British Ambassador to Iran Richard Dalton said the mullahs likely will turn to a less fiery loyalist for the presidential election in 2013.

“You will see somebody, I think, who is less populist in his approach, more of a conventional manager of the economy and society, and somebody who is less bombastic, who makes less wide-sounding promises that turn out to be unfulfillable,” said Dalton.

Dalton and other experts are quick to point out, though, that Ahmadinejad’s problems do not necessarily create an opening for reform in Iran.

“The Iranian clerical, military, security and governmental apparatus have been dedicated now for some time to limiting not only reformism within the Iranian establishment, but also any street politics or dissenting politics outside it," said Dalton. "So that trend remains firmly in place.”

Security expert Metsa Rahimi at the Janusian Group in London, said observers in the West should not mistake Iran's political squabbling for weakness, or as an opening for reform from the streets.

“Iran kind of had its moment a couple of years ago, and I think if we were to see it happening, we would have seen it happen already at least at some point this year," said Rahimi. "The Iranian government has had the experience of controlling mass unrest, certainly. And there was not going to be a big surprise like there was in Tunisia and Egypt."

She said many of the Green Movement’s young supporters have shown signs in recent months that they are giving up hope of dramatic political change.

“A lot of the youth in Iran, having had this moment in 2009, I feel, are almost tired of the effort they were putting in trying to drive change from the streets," said Rahimi. "And many Iranian youth, if they can, are starting to leave the country as opposed to trying to change the country.”

Although Iranians sought reform years before their Arab neighbors, former Ambassador Dalton said the successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt may have an inspirational impact on Iran’s so-far unsuccessful protesters.

“I believe there are many in Iran who are saying, ‘The Tunisians could do it. The Egyptians could do it. Why couldn’t we in 2009? Why shouldn’t we try again in the future?’ There’s ashes there that are still warm and we can’t rule out it bursting into flame at some point in the future,” said Dalton.

Dalton said that possibility becomes more likely if Iran’s economy takes a turn for the worse. But he said if the price of oil remains high, as expected, a resumption of mass protests in Iran's streets is at best a “rather theoretical” scenario.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More