On Point: One Year On: Iran's Green Movement Struggles as the Mullahs Make War

by Austin Bay
June 8, 2010

Economic misery and repression played roles, but an overtact of corruption brought the people into the streets.

One year ago, election fraud ignited demonstrationsthroughout Iran. Stealing the national election held on June 12, 2009, was onetheft too many by the religious dictatorship and its cronies.

Established by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, Iran'sradical cleric-controlled regime ("mullocracy" is the pop term) cameto power deploring the Shah's theft and corruption. Khomeinist Islamicrevolutionary values would ensure two things: 1) a harsh, but clean Iraniannational government and 2) the spread of Khomeinist-led Islamic revolutionaround the world by any means necessary, including successful politicalexample, economic might, subterfuge, terrorism, guerrillas and, when necessary,all-out war.

The mullahs' attempts to fulfill their second revolutionarypledge to extend Khomeini's revolution beyond Iran's borders, however, havebeen destructive but largely unsuccessful. Decades of political finagling andterrorist activities in the Persian Gulf have not toppled a single Arabgovernment.

Iran's attempts to use proxies to destroy Iraq's nascentdemocratic government have left thousands dead and slowed Iraqi development,but "the Arabs" continue to build a new society in Mesopotamia.Afghanistan, the bloody puzzle to the east, has NATO troops. Global revolutionhas left Iran in a strategic vise. A nuclear weapon, however, might changethat.

The regime's failure to keep the revolution's first pledge,the promise the Khomeinists used to ignite popular revolt against the Shah,however, has divided Iran's people and created what is ultimately a more potentand dangerous threat to the mullahs than American or Israeli bombs. Harshdomestic government the revolution provided, but as for clean?

While Khomeini lived, the crooks kept up the pretense of spicand span -- maybe. Khomeini died in 1989. Economic decline in Iran, tied tomismanagement and corruption, was evident by the early 1990s, when the firstserious calls for systemic reform began.

The complaints received lip service. Reformers, like AyatollahMohamed Khatami (who was elected president in 1997), were isolated politicallyand rendered powerless. Subsequently, the Khomeinist regime rigged the votingsystem to exclude future Khatami-type intruders.

The situation faced by most Iranians deteriorated. A tellingconversation took place some six years ago when a knowledgeable Iranian told methe total bribe required for permission to acquire land and launch a majorconstruction project in Tehran had gone from $50,000 or so to around a halfmillion -- in American dollars, please.

Another source asserted the Shia clerics running Iran weremore aggressive thieves than the Palavis, the Shah's despised clan. Call it oldgossip -- perhaps CIA knows the precise Tehran bribe schedule circa 2004 -- butnew gossip says the corruption has gotten worse.

Public demonstrations and anti-regime declarations --verifiable facts -- show Iran enters the 21st century's second decade aprofoundly divided nation. Time is a threat to all revolutions. As years pass,the revolutionaries age and the fervor fades. A generational divide oftenemerges, and it has in Iran.

The Green Movement, the umbrella anti-government groupingthat emerged from the post-election demonstrations in 2009, has a largefollowing among Iran's youth and middle-aged.

Most Iranians under the age of 40 have little truck with theruling mullahs. The Shah is ancient history. The Council of Guardians' crueltyis current news. The cultural straightjacket of clerical puritanism chafesyouths who want to rock and roll, and the mullahs' blatant hypocrisy andcorruption adds to their disenchantment and alienation.

The mullahs know domestically they face a sustained, popularstruggle against their endemically corrupt regime. The Green Movement, however,is a hodgepodge of factions, including reformists (who support extensive, rapidreform), incrementalists (who favor certain reforms) and radicals of all sorts(some promoting Western-style democracy).

The mullahs and the Revolutionary Guards exploit thesedivisions. Their policy of jailing movement leaders, threatening family membersand selectively repressing Green Movement factions has kept the Green Movementfrom coalescing as a genuine revolutionary organization. So far. 

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To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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