Samstag, Januar 28, 2006


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Few articles about Iran provide interesting insight into the complex political and economic system of Islamic Republic. The articles by Tom Porteous in Prospect Magazine and the late Paul Klebnikov in Forbes are among them. According to Porteous "The usual analysis of Iranian politics—favoured by western commentators, journalists and secular Iranian intellectuals alike—follows what one might call the political-science approach, which takes as its starting point the complex constitution and formal institutions of the Iranian power structure." This approach in my view is the source of misreads about Iran. Another way to look at the situation is through the approach called "shadow state" by Porteous or “shadow government” by Klebnikov. According to the shadow state theory political institutions "serve as a façade or as tools that are manipulated, subverted and instrumentalised by an oligarchy of competing networks of politicians, mullahs, senior security officers, speculators and bazaaris (merchants) as a means of accumulating and maintaining wealth and power." So where am I going with all this? We lack information about the real political structure. Not even Alireza Nourizadeh’s extremely entertaining and detailed but mostly irrelevant biographical accounts of Iranian political figures helps much. When people like Mohsen Sazegara come to the west, our number one priority should be neither target practicing on them nor worshipping their bravery and analytical skills but rather squeezing them for information. Before then all we can do is speculating and guessing. Here are some which I find more qualified than others. The new regime in Tehran (symbolized by Ahmadinejad’s presidency) has its base in a generational (mini) wave that gained its experience during the Iran-Iraq war. It is a mini-wave because the represented time span is rather small in demographic scales. The revolution’s first generation represented by Rafsanjani, Khamenei, and many exile figures are on the way out. As such I doubt the traditional leaders of IRI (e.g. Rafsanjani) despite their wealth and influence can pose any serious challenge to the new rulers as asserted by Michael McFaul and Abbas Milani in Washington Post. Since it is not clear to me who MacFaul and Milani refer to when they write about challenges from the “embattled democratic movement”, I cannot comment on that one. The future struggle will be between the government and the revolution’s third and fourth generations who want to live a normal life like their counterparts in civilized societies. They want jobs, security, personal freedoms, and the right to enjoy life: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.The current regime by reason of its corrupt real structure, discriminatory legal construct, and backward ideology is incapable of fulfilling the needs of Iranian young and vibrant society.