Saturday, January 9, 2010

Is a Revolution Coming in Iran?

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The Atlantic Wire / Max Fisher

The protests and demonstrations in Iran, led by reformists and ongoing since the fraud-ridden 2009 Presidential election, are often called the "green revolution" for the official color of movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi's presidential campaign. But is it a real revolution? Or just dissent from a small and isolated sub-set of the population? Iran experts Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett argued the latter in a Wednesday op-ed in the New York Times, sparking wide and heated debate over the nature of green movement.
Should the U.S. engage Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or be rooting for their ouster?

* Iran's Non-Revolution Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett write, "The Islamic Republic of Iran is not about to implode. Nevertheless, the misguided idea that it may do so is becoming enshrined as conventional wisdom in Washington." They warn, "The focus in the West on the antigovernment demonstrations has blinded many to an inconvenient but inescapable truth: the Iranians who used Ashura to make a political protest do not represent anything close to a majority." They cite data to support their argument that the revolution is overblown in the U.S. and conclude that the U.S. should drop wishful thinking about regime change and work on engaging the current Iranian leadership, which they insist is going nowhere. Private intelligence company STRATFOR concurs with the Leveretts.

* Engage Khamenei, But Don't Dismiss Revolution Iran expert Juan Cole agrees with the Leveretts that we should engage Iran, but not their "dismissive attitude" towards the green revolution. "I think it is big, nation-wide, multi-class and significant. And I fear that they have fallen for the regime's phony counter-demonstration on Dec. 30 as a sign of wide and deep support for the regime. I don't deny it has its supporters. But I think the ground is shifting against Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, which helps explain why they are becoming more and more repressive." (Read more...)