A revolution’s anniversary: Iran’s creeping military rule
- Iran’s revolution marks its anniversary on Feb. 11. What is the political situation in Iran today?
Iran marks the revolution’s 32nd anniversary in dramatically altered circumstances. It emerged from the disputed 2009 presidential election as a far more militarized state. The commanders of the Revolutionary Guards now exercise influence in the principal seats of power. The security apparatus has grown more repressive. The government inclines towards a confrontational style in foreign policy. And while the regime remains firmly in control, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s populist style has opened fissures within the ruling establishment.
The Revolutionary Guards now have a much larger say in domestic and foreign policy, government jobs, and the economy since its Basij paramilitary wing played a principal role in crushing mass protests after the disputed elections, thereby saving the regime. Men closely associated with the Guards are prominent in the cabinet and in key government posts. Companies associated with the Guards get lucrative government contracts in the energy, construction and industrial sectors. The hand of Revolutionary Guards commanders, in collaboration with the Intelligence Ministry and their judicial cohorts, is also visible in the arrests, trials and executions that continue unabated.
- What forms has this crackdown taken?
Widespread arrests were followed by a televised show trial of over 100 prominent political figures and ordinary protesters. The aim is clearly to silence all dissent and warn would-be political activists about the harsh consequences of challenging the state. Recent individual trials have produced unusually harsh sentences:
- Nasrin Sotudeh, a human rights lawyer, was sentenced to 11 years in prison and barred for 20 years from practicing law and traveling abroad merely for defending political and human rights activists and criticism of Iran's human rights record made when she was abroad.
- Mohammad Seifzadeh, also a lawyer, was sentenced to nine years in prison.
- Zahra Bahrami, a Dutch-Iranian woman, was hanged ostensibly for drug trafficking but principally for taking part in the post-election demonstrations.
- Bijan Khajehpour, a business consultant, recently had his five-year prison sentence confirmed by an appeals court.
- What has been the role of Iran's Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in these developments?
- How do you see President Ahmadinejad's role in Iran today?
Ahmadinejad cultivates a populist style that is more reminiscent of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez than of previous Iranian presidents. Although a member of the ruling elite, he poses as the champion of the "little man" against the establishment. He and his coterie of appointees represent a new generation now challenging the first generation of revolutionary leaders, such as former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, for their hold on power.
- What are the regime's vulnerabilities?
The Islamists Are Coming
The Islamists Are Coming, edited by Robin Wright, surveys the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring. Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties. They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.
New Articles Archive
Articles By Author
Recent New Articles Posts
05/21/2013 - 14:57
05/21/2013 - 14:50
05/20/2013 - 06:48
05/20/2013 - 06:47
05/20/2013 - 06:37
05/20/2013 - 06:35
05/16/2013 - 17:35
05/16/2013 - 17:32
05/15/2013 - 11:12
05/15/2013 - 10:59
05/15/2013 - 10:31
05/13/2013 - 14:10
05/13/2013 - 12:58
05/13/2013 - 12:00
05/13/2013 - 11:19