Sunday, June 21, 2009

Green [R]evolution in Iran

As I was watching the images captured by camera and listening to Amanpour's reflections on the recent elections on Iran, the idea came about of a Green Revolution and its parallel to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine... Similarities were pretty stark. Interestingly, while I felt this independently, I was not the only one. Other commentators had the same feeling and parallel visions... see here

It came as a big surprise to many in the West that Iran is not united, as it seemed from afar. But that is a mistake we have always made in our assumptions, miscalculations and fears. That was the mistake we made after the 9/11, viewing all Arabs united, all Islamists united: against the United States. The naivete of that view was to dissolve pretty quickly in the ensuing years. And now it is with Iran. Iran like many other Islamic countries is far from united. This division only now came to the surface with greater force. Obviously, the elections are a perfect opportunity to express disenchantment with Ahmadinejad's extremist policies, views and statements. But I really do not know if political commentators are correct that there is political maturity in Iran currently. While there is grassroots movement and some political culture geared towards democratic principles, the existence of violence suggests lack of maturity. Disobedience and protests that result in violence and shedding of blood that are not necessarily caused by the militia, but simply by people getting angry with each other, is not the modern democratic way as we envision it here. In the United States the last elections were pretty emotional and dramatic, but there was no blood shed and the whole atmosphere was not dangerous. Watching the images on the screen from Iran, my blood chilled in my veins: people yelling and screaming, walking with rocks, angry...

Is this because of the fear on part of Moussavi's supporters that there will be a violent crackdown by the government that has bestowed victory (fraudulently or otherwise) on Ahmadinejad? Is there any expectation that the government backed by Khomeini will endure this opposition? Will the opposition get more organised and more level-handed? It remains only to be seen. At this point there is a lot of support for Ahmadinejad. There was a lot of support in Ukraine for Yanukovich. But it is quite reassuring to see Muslim women walking in the streets, demanding rights, respect and opportunity to be heard! If nothing else, this development will prepare a stage for something else... The very fact that people dare to express their discontent and voice against the current government is quite a big step forward.

Democracy gets developed through stages, oftentimes unseen to the ordinary eye. It all begins from the bottom, in the mindsets of the people, and slowly stage by stage, step by step, it develops from theory into real practice... Obstacles to it make the urge stronger and greater... That is why, it occurred to me, that this movement in Iran is rather evolutionary, than revolutionary. On the surface, this change seems revolutionary. But fundamentally the process of democratic growth is never revolutionary and more slow and evolutionary. Think about it, how many years did it take for the United States to become what it is?

The Iranian government will not be able to contain these forces for long... Either it will have to adjust and finetune itself to these demands, or else it will collapse, just like the Soviet Union.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Somalia in rage

The radical Islamists in trouble-ridden Somalia have undertaken to further agonize and terrorize more moderate religious groups. Beginning from heinous desecration of graves, they are now bombing mosques where the opposing groups are gathering for prayer. Violence has been the story of the day for already many years in Somalia, a country separated into many tribes, groups, and 'states', whose interests do not coincide. Unfortunately, most of these interests are not based on any rational thinking. Much of it is simply violence for the sake of violence. Many causes have been pointed out by scholars for this crisis: lack of centralized government, economic backwardness and poverty, secessionism, radical Islam. It seems, solutions have been identified and there have been some efforts made towards them. But there is no political will and/or political culture to sustain any progress towards these solutions. Stability in these types of countries unfortunately has been associated with dictatorship. For example, Somalia did much better under Siad Barre and Iraq was more stable under Saddam Hussein... Of course, 'better' is a very relative term. Peace under fear does not last long.

At least 13 people died in a shooting at a mosque on Wednesday. Today BBC reported that in another suicide car bomb attack Somalia's minister died along with at least 10 others. here

For a story

photo credit here