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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Moussavi warns of revolution

In response to new, harsher sanctions imposed by the European Union and Canada, Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi warned that the current Iranian government could suffer the same fate as the Shah if it did not reform.
Iran's opposition leader said Monday that Ahmadinejad's regime could suffer the same fate as the deposed Shah if they continue to consolidate their grip on power.

The internal pressure comes as western countries imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, including Monday's sanctions from both the EU and Canada, which came in the wake of UN sanctions and a harsher set of unilateral US sanctions in June.

The comments by opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi represent a clear break with a ruling system he was once firmly a part of. The former prime minister was a fervent supporter of the 1979 revolution that brought cleric-led government to Iran before recasting himself as a leader of the reform-seeking opposition in last year's disputed presidential election.

In comments on his website Monday, Mousavi accuses hard-liners of moving toward an oppressive, one-party system. Previously, he limited his criticism to authorities' post-election crackdown rather than taking on the ruling system.
I have a number of comments: First, Moussavi's comments put the lie to the notion that harsh sanctions would cause Iranians to rally around the flag, i.e. Ahmadinejad. Could military action also not cause Iranians to rally around the flag? Opponents of military action have used that 'rally around the flag' effect as one of their main arguments against military action.

Second, has Moussavi come to save the Islamist system? It certainly seems that way, which is why many of us were not crazy about Moussavi all along. Either Moussavi has to go on to articulate a political vision that places the mullahs on the outside (and risk the consequences of articulating that vision) or those who want real change in Iran have to find another leadership figure who will articulate such a vision.

Third, it's not the Iranian one-party system that has brought about the harsh sanctions - it's Iran's insistence on developing nuclear weapons that has brought it about. Moussavi has been an even more ardent supporter of developing nuclear weapons. If he is the person to make the sanctions go away, he must articulate a vision that disavows nuclear weapons altogether and that limits nuclear power development (at least) to such development as is done under international supervision with the enrichment done elsewhere. Is Moussavi willing to do that? Can he be trusted? If the answer to either of those questions is negative, someone must be found in Iran who can be trusted on the nuclear issue. Otherwise, the sanctions ought to continue.

Fourth, is the opposition in Iran actually behind Moussavi on this? Are they out ahead of him? Do we even know?


At 6:12 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Mir Hossein Moussavi is an Islamist. There is no such political animal as a "moderate" Islamist. One suspects he wants a kinder and gentler version of Khomeinism. There is no indication he wants a Western-style democratic system to emerge in Iran. If all we're going to get is a softer-spoken version of Ahmedinejad, we're better off with the current regime in power.

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

I agree with NormanF: Mousavi is an opportunist. From what I gather from various Iranian sources, many green people have never wanted him from the start.

But you can guarantee, once the current regime falters, the West will rush to promote Mousavi.


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