tehranbureau An independent source of news on Iran and the Iranian diaspora

Iranian DNA or Fear of Déjà vu?

by TARA MAHTAFAR in Washington, D.C.

03 Mar 2010 17:5929 Comments

24358_1244093064968_1308628532_30674301_6756226_n.jpgIs the Green opposition beset by the inability of Iranians to work together, or is it simply trying to avoid repeating the mistakes of 1979?

[ analysis ] The one merit to 22 Bahman's failed 'Trojan Horse' plan was its exposure of the Green Movement's Achilles' Heel: the seeming inability to unify the scattered opposition, brainstorm the movement's future, and plan a viable strategy for change.

Observers are questioning the implications of this exposed weakness. Analyst Abbas Abdi believes the recent diminished turnout will spur the development of "new tactics" for the movement, and Columbia's Gary Sick points out that protesters "lack a clear agenda." However, these reflections are overshadowed by a larger question: Does the opposition's fragmentation and slapdash dynamics stem from an innate inability for Iranians to coordinate action toward a common goal? Or, are various actors within the opposition treading cautiously, wary of a repeat of 1979's failed inclusion of pluralism in an Iranian democracy?

First, let's look at the shortcomings of the individual actors within the opposition. Their strengths have been explored thoroughly here on Tehran Bureau, so I'll skip the deserved accolades and focus on defects.

Internal Leadership

For a movement born of broad popular support for reform and spearheaded by the Reformist Big Three (Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami), a disconnect exists between the rhetoric and action of the movement's nominal leaders vis-à-vis the proactive grassroots body they ostensibly represent. For instance, these leaders have never invited open interaction with their supporters, a fact that stands at odds with their sweeping advocacy of free discourse and accountability to the public. If Mousavi is able to issue one-way declarations and video messages, surely he can take a page out of his own election campaign and arrange for a live, interactive Twitter Q&A session. Even as a gesture, it would set an example for transparency and open interaction between leaders and their public.

The de facto Green leader has also failed to acknowledge the criticism voiced by protesters questioning the legitimacy of the supreme leader - criticism which began last July and has since escalated into slogans slamming Khamenei as the direct target of the movement's wrath and foretelling his downfall. Mousavi has thus far dismissed these calls on the street as a radical aberration in an otherwise allegedly pro-velayat faqih majority. His reticence is understandable, given the fine line he must walk in extending a hand of compromise to the hardliner camp while staying true to his self-declared 'minimum demands' for his Green supporters. But this tightrope act has perhaps eclipsed his capacity and willingness to engage with the increasingly anti-Khamenei sentiment of the movement. This is while the late Ayatollah Montazeri had candidly denounced the supreme leader's legitimacy of rule early on in the post-election aftermath. Mousavi, at some point, must directly address this not-so-nascent concern.

Diaspora Voices

Opposition figures based abroad -- prominent intellectuals, activists, scholars, analysts, and ex-Islamic Republic officials -- are notoriously loath to working together as a unified political front. As Inside Iran reports, Akbar Ganji and Mohsen Kadivar were at each other's throats just weeks after signing a joint statement. Shirin Ebadi, Iran's sole Nobel laureate, has according to several firsthand accounts, declined to head supplementary Green leadership outside of the country, claiming she prefers to confine her activity to the realm of human rights. Mohsen Sazegara dubs himself the "Asphalt General" -- responsible for "feet on the street," the former IRGC architect says -- but many of his dissident counterparts attach to him the stigma of alleged CIA backing. Fringe groups like the Monarchists and the MEK meanwhile pound the anti-reformist drum, calling for outright regime change louder than the most devout neo-conservatives.

These dissident voices, far from a cohesive force supporting the opposition at work on the streets of Iran, operate in isolated cliques and pursue separate agendas. In doing so, they squander opportunity for initiatives that require freedom and resources not available to the internal leaders in Iran, and therefore could significantly contribute to the movement's advancement.

Grassroots Activism

During lapses between street protests, the day-to-day activism by the movement's grassroots base is most visible online, in op-eds, blogs, social media, and "netizen" amateur footage. As many analysts note, the Web-based grassroots networks have taken shape as a non-hierarchical and decentralized structure. While there are undoubted advantages to the model, the downside is that it has thus far impeded the forming of broader, structured collaborations among the millions of scattered opposition supporters.

Advocacy groups, such as United for Iran, Where is My Vote NY and Week in Green, for the most part work on their own. Dozens of blogger-run websites have sprung up since last summer, vying for attention in an over-saturated media landscape. It appears that the motto "Every Iranian is a Medium" has been interpreted as "Every Iranian is an Island" -- no one seems inclined to collaborate together or pool resources to create "umbrella" media and advocacy groups that could build a farther scope and reach, expedite the circulation of information and expand discourse on the movement's strategy and goals.

A diaspora umbrella group, while maintaining diversity within unity, would be in a position for stronger fundraising and a larger budget to expand its activities and platform. This in turn could enable it to foster a higher level of organization among opposition supporters and thus pave the way for new functions and tactics for Green supporters inside the country.

The Weak Link

With this brief overview in mind, we should ask once more: What is the weak link that has thus far hampered the emergence of supplementary leadership and stronger platforms within the opposition?

These are vital requisites for the movement's endurance and progress. Obviously, the Greens have come a long way in the past nine months. But by June 12, 2010, a year after the elections, if the opposition finds itself at a stalemate without viable means to effect change, the movement is in danger of falling into decline as supporters sink into apathy or despair.

The weight of this responsibility -- to save the movement from waning -- rests primarily with the opposition outside of Iran, who can act unrestrictedly and have far better access to resources for coalition-building and for finding constructive approaches to galvanize and empower those on the inside.

Everyone seems to agree that these steps are crucial for the survival of the Green Movement, yet no one has stepped up and taken initiative. A line I hear over and over from members of the Iranian political community in Washington and other cities is: "We Iranians can't work together." Another oft-repeated cop-out is, "Not yet rulers, [and] there's [already] a power struggle over ruling" [hanuz hakem nashode, sar-e hakemiyat davast]. Rather than connoting aggression, this dictum seems to suggest a defensive stance born out of the fear of a potential sidelining if and when the movement succeeds, as was done to liberals and leftists in the aftermath of the original revolution.

If the best and brightest in the pro-democracy opposition can't put ego-driven rivalries aside and pool their forces for the greater good, what hope is there that a so-called majority of Iranians will ever succeed in instating true representative government?

Tara Mahtafar covers politics and activism for Tehran Bureau.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

SHAREtwitterfacebookSTUMBLEUPONbalatarin reddit digg del.icio.us


Dear Tara,

This is a very astute critique of the current problems facing the Iranian opposition. A few historical points may shed light on this poblem. For instance, Khomeini was only able to direct the 1979 revolution from outside Iran. In fact so long as he was in Iran he did not directly criticize the Shah; his protests addressed only concessions given to the US military personnel, not Shah's rule. Had Shariatmadari not saved his life by declaring him a Marja, Khomeini would have been executed by the Shah in Iran. Further, had he not had the best media and communication tools at his disposal during the 1978-79 period in France, he would not have been able to direct the revolution as he did. I have no doubt that given the dictatorial tendencies of Iranian regimes, change leadership must direct the opposition from outside Iran. As to your comments on Iranian diaspora, I suggest an Iranian World Congress that drafts a minimum set of democratic demands that we can all agree on, as well as a set of practices and tactics that are acceptable to all, before moving towards fundraising and forming a real alliance of Iranian opposition groups. By employing some of the established practices of diaspora and exiled communities we can overcome the so called Iranian inability to work together. This inability has long existed in Jewish, Middle Eastern, East Asian diasporas but has sometimes been overcome by adhering to organizational and behavioral principles of community building. Babak Shahrvandi.

Babak Shahrvandi / March 3, 2010 8:01 PM

I am rarely shocked, but this piece is truly shocking in terms of callowness and naiveté. I wonder if this is intentional.

Live, interactive Twitter Q& A?! Is the writer talking about IRAN? If she claims to know enough to be able to write an analysis piece for the country, surely she should know of the absurdity of such a thing? The link that phrase leads to in this article belongs to June 1st, 2009. A WORLD away from the Iran we are living in TODAY.

The "failed 'Trojan Horse' plan"? Instead of talking about "the seeming inability to unify the scattered opposition, brainstorm the movement's future, and plan a viable strategy for change" why not discuss the absurdity, absolute idiocy of this plan to begin with? Which by the way, began with Ebrahim Nabavi, which really should make us reconsider the expat communities relationship to the movement and how damaging it can be.

The downfall of khameneie is to be expected from a few hundred/thousand protesters shouting something in the streets of Tehran? That's the link you give? The role Ayatollah Montazeri has played in the Islamic Republic is leagues different than the role Mousavi is playing today. The role of the leader has greatly diminished/damaged, and it will not last forever, but as things stand right now, we are years away from a "downfall".

United for Iran, Where is My Vote NY and Week in Green may serve to educate/inform some expat communities and non-Iranians. But they are completely irrelevant in terms of influencing the dynamics inside Iran.

The author puts forth these VERY, VERY questionable comments so matter-of-factly, it reminds me of the argumentative style of the Iranian officials - who put forth all sorts of very questionable assumptions/personal opinion as if they are undisputed "facts".

Geez, I see that as we move further away from the election, everybody is moving further away from reason, logic and just that tiny hint of rationality.

Pedestrian / March 3, 2010 8:13 PM

Its Iranian DNA.

Actually its middle eastern DNA.

For centuries, middle eastern/muslim nations have been far behind their neighbors because they have never trusted modern forms of capital ownership: be it economic, political or social.

Instead they have relied on small scale, local, tribal, religious forms that dilute not aggregate power.

Case in point: economic forms of ownership.

Muslim nations never embraced the joint-stock company, which gave rise to exponential increases in capital formation, capital markets, currency appreciation, transparency and risk management. Rather they rely on small family partnerships; which are inefficient, and largely dissolve over time or are split into smaller less viable units via marriage/inheritance.

All this matters, because economic forms of ownership directly influence political forms of participation and ownership.

In the Middle east, there is largely still an agrarian economy reliant on one commodity: oil.

The political forms of political capital are concentrated in the hands of few, which leads to corruption, waste, and disintegration of political/economic power. Worse case scenarios are Africa where the system has crumbled into a mono-economy rule by warlords. Not far off for Iran (or present state Iraq) if oil markets are disrupted and income stops.

On a soacial/familial basis this translates into further absurdities like dowries, blood vendettas, and honor killings....which are masked in sexual/purity contexts...but really are about diminished value of that persons worth in marriage markets, and hence familial capital. Almost every Iranian family is not speaking to someone b/c of an inheritance or marriage issue!

Even in exile communities in USA/EU the level of distrust is epic. Many an LA Irooni will murmur: "I wont do a deal with an Iranian". The LA Iranian/Jewish Ponzi is one example; many abound.

Now back to the Green Revolution what matters is the "Sea of Feet". In the end this is what was the tipping point in the falling of the iron curtain. It was not abour Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Walesa. It was hordes of people that refused to be sheep; and believe the nonsense of senile old men.

Debating whether Mousvai or some other revolution 'has-been' is relevant is the same as debating whether the shahs ministers were up for the job of next Shah.

The revolution will be exactly like '79. Some players; lots of noise; lots of false starts; and then a winner take all change agent, that opens a floodgate that wont be closed again.

The IRGC is 125,000 men jailing 69 Million people. Mathematically that wont last; it didnt for Nazi, Stasi, KGB, Saddam, or even KKK.

The good news about Iranian DNA is it has a distinct breaking point. We have hung our leaders every 30 yrs for centuries. We dont have a Confucious loyalty mentality; or Latin diety obedience; or African tribal fatality.

Youth triumphs over old age.

The Mullahs are old and dieing; they are guarded by legions of brain dead drones.

All it takes is feet on the street.

Shah / March 3, 2010 8:28 PM

this was a fantastic article, one of the few articles clearly underlining the weakness of the regime. Im afraid that the characteristics of the movement that once seemed like a strength is increasingly looking like a weakness. But the strongest weakness of them all is the fact that NONE of the socalled leaders of the greens are pro change since they are strongly pro IR.

The only way change can come is when the big three are put aside and a call for referendum for/against IR is called for. As long as the big three are pro khameneis position nothing will happen.

rostam / March 3, 2010 8:48 PM

22 bahman was a shock to all, a dissasterous event that in my opinion showed how fragile the movement is and how weak it is. Im starting to think that iranians have not developed enough to actually want a democratic system, otherwise millions would be in the streets every week regardless of which date it is.

people/nations have the government they deserve.

rostam / March 3, 2010 8:52 PM

Excellent article. The Green movement was born out of power struggle between the RafsanJani Mafia gang (Reformers) and the Military-Industrial Fascist faction of the totally corrupt Clerical Custodianship regime.

It has morphed into something unexpected by both factions and the outsiders, an uprising against tyranny of the Mullahs regime as a whole.

The REFORMER faction (led by Mousavi/Karoubi)actions and communications show that they are acting as followers of the GREEN MOVEMENT and not its leaders. They are always one or two steps behind.

Other political groups behavior has become more parasitic as they try to feed on the movement for their own political ends.

The GREEN movement is evolving quickly and we need to wait just a little bit longer to see the shape it is taking.

Maziar Irani / March 3, 2010 9:30 PM

I don't understand why there is so much animosity towards the ex-pat community. People forget that the majority of ex-pats are actually the best and brightest Iranians who have been denied an opportunity to enrich their own nation by a barbaric regime. They have fled to receive the respect they deserve; respect that some Iranians are still too backward to recognise. I agree with the author that, if united, the ex-pat community is the best hope for change (change being an ambiguous term). This is mainly because of the inability of opposition supporters to act freely within the borders of Iran. Plus, Iranians abroad have tasted what democracy, pluralism and freedom really mean (whether good or bad), so they can share their knowledge and experiences to help elevate Iran to the greatness it deserves to be. Of course, there are also limitations, notably the fact that ex-pats are outside of Iran. Ultimately, only those within Iran will be able to actually implement whatever change comes, but the ex-pats will be the backbone.


I sensed a lot of hatred and anger in your comment - take a chill pill. Instead of berating the ex-pat community - which you are likely to be a member of - why don't you offer some constructive alternatives to what the author has said? I doubt many, if any, Iranians are still naïve about the situation; it's more likely they have a difference of opinion. In fact, thank you for demonstrating the "ego-driven rivalry" that still exists in the opposition.

Next time, please put a warning at the beginning of your comment if it's going to be a waste of time to read.

Pak / March 3, 2010 10:30 PM

This is an instructive article!

Many commentators have articulated in the past that there appears to be a serious disconnect between the aspiration of ordinary Iranians living in Iran and the desires and goals of various factions, both Iranian and non-Iranian, living abroad.

This article is illustrative of this disconnect!

In many respects, the "opposition outside Iran" has marginal and circumstantial relevance to the movement inside Iran. After all, those people with the commitment to live in Iran and work for change in Iran should set the agenda. Eventual leadership of the movement in Iran will arise from unforeseeable dynamics - as it did in 1979. However, in organic and indigenous movements it is the movement that drives the agenda and through its course gives birth to a leader - not the other way around. Color revolutions driven by outside forces are not (by and large) for the benefit of the locals.

If the opposition outside Iran wants to usher democracy and independence to Iran, it must set aside its own agendas and support the wants and needs of the indigenous movement in Iran.

Jay / March 3, 2010 11:01 PM

I realy wonder who could lead the Iraninan nation?Who could save the people out of this dark times?
Is there a person that could motivate the people to march on the streets and keep them motivated and given them a hope that like there is no choice but removing this saitanic rulers.like there is no tomorrow.there must be someone who could unify all political group with one goal to free iran. unlike 1979 Iranian have NO backing from Russian, Iraq,Turky,Saudies,British,American and Etc.Green Movement is fresh and young and no solid ground,wrong leaders, wrong direction, Existing so called leaders don't have someone out of Iran to deal with Foreign policies and Engage with other leaders for their support.otherwise their agenda is lost among the thousands of others.

jamshid / March 3, 2010 11:10 PM

Babak Shahrvandi,

"Had Shariatmadari not saved his life by declaring him a Marja, Khomeini would have been executed by the Shah in Iran."

You don't know that. That is a mere guess work on your part. We know with much certainty today that much of what was claimed about the pre 1979 era are nothing but pure leftist or Islamist lies designed to discredit that establishment. You don't have any idea. Many of Islamist murderers of that era are alive and walking around in Islamic Republic i.e. Yesterday's Pennyless Rafsanjani and today's Billioner.


"For centuries, middle eastern/muslim nations have been far behind their neighbors because they have never trusted modern forms of capital ownership: be it economic, political or social.

Instead they have relied on small scale, local, tribal, religious forms that dilute not aggregate power.
Case in point: economic forms of ownership."

Are we not exaggerating a little dear? In this very United States and only 2 to 3 generations ago people practiced much of what you mentioed above. The major change occured through 'public education' in conjunction with an economy that left its isolationist stance in favor of a global role.

You choose to ignore Turkey's florishing management and economy. A great example for a muslim country and a neighbor of Iran. In pre 1979 era, Iran's economy was ahead of Turkey's. What changed? There is your answer.

Niloofar / March 3, 2010 11:18 PM

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings"

----William Shakespeare

Ahvaz / March 3, 2010 11:49 PM

Pak, so good of you to notice. There was a lot of anger. And I think people are free to pick & choose what comments they want to read, that's the first rule in any forum, maybe you should learn how to use them first.

As for "constructive alternatives" - I was pointing out the inaccuracies in this article presented as FACT. That's a PROBLEM. If we want to be constructive, we can start by putting our "beliefs" where they belong - in the "belief" section of things, and not present them as undisputed facts.

And this very ex-pat community you speak so highly of seems to be caught up in its visions of sugar plum fairies. Quite evident in this article, many of the comments here, and your own. I see you like the idea of picking the plums. Enjoy eating them too.

Pedestrian / March 4, 2010 1:17 AM

I believe the person who wrote this as part of his comment is right on the point.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings"

----William Shakespeare

Democracy is not something people do. Democracy is what people do.

Howard Zinn

The root of democracy is based on deep respect - respect for human sanctity and freedom to be and express.

Until such a time that we as Iranians, regardless of where we live, do not learn the ways of respect, outside of being seemingly polite and proper, we will continue to draw rulers and dictators who will treat us like sub-humans who deserve to be controlled and manupulated; of course for their own good.

This administration is doing it under the religious banner of velayeth faghih, others in the past have done it under different names but the same practice: corrosion, violation, death and destruction.

in short,a deep and fundamental lack of respect for for sanctity of life and humanity unleashed on individuals and groups.

I personally hope that no change will be forth coming in our country unless we make a shift in ourselves.

If we don't, another group of people will come to power who will in due time unleash their wrath on us once again. Another thirty years will be gone and we will remain the same.

Why, because we allow it by acting that way

Jamal / March 4, 2010 6:02 AM

The Mullahs are affraid of crowds.

The wiki description of the '79 revolution says:

"There were literally too people to arrest"

In essence something as simple as that is the key.

Tehran doesnt have prisons space for 1 Million people, much less 6 million or 60 million.

At most 10% of IRGC or Basij are in Tehran; so again 12,000...100,000 thugs vs. millions.

The June events freaked them out b/c they knew after the first waves of crowd deaths they would run out of bullets and be trampled.

Somthing as simple as a national day of holiday, planned by the people....will destabilize their authority.

Showing up is 80% of this revolution.

Shah / March 4, 2010 7:05 AM

Thank you for the analysis, which rings true with much of what I've observed. I disagree, however, that the main burden of responsibility for spearheading a unified opposition voice rests with the Iranian diaspora outside the country. I can think of no instance in history where a struggle for democratization, national liberation, or a revolution was successfully led from outside the country. Take the PLO experience in Lebanon, for example - and that was a clear, defined leading body, something the Green movement unfortunately lacks. I'm afraid that even with the dangers and threats they face from the government, the Green movement must first define itself and clarify its goals at home. Then the rest of us, Iranians and internationals, will have the political basis to support it - in action, not just in words.

Rebecca Minnich / March 4, 2010 3:14 PM

Ped's right.

And where does the exile community get off stating that Iranians cannot work together? Obviously these people are completely ignorant of the shared experiences during the Imposed War, where there was a common enemy and a common goal. Or is it because that wasn't an external activity bent on subversion, it somehow doesn't count?

Pirouz / March 4, 2010 4:08 PM


You have the right thought and I commend you for it. However, you need to realize 'they' is us. 'They' who came 31 years ago. 'They' who do not respect the sanctity of life. 'They who do not respect the way of democracy.
"unless we make a shift in ourselves." Now you are on the right track.

"If we don't, another group of people will come to power who will in due time unleash their wrath on us once again." Oh no, you are off track again. The 'other group' is us.

'We' make them into who they are in life. 'We' give them their titles, bow before them and praise them as Gods. 'We' follow them blindly and when the results are unfavorable 'they', sorry, 'we' come up with yet another conspiracy theory called 'they did it.'

Niloofar / March 4, 2010 5:27 PM

Dear Jamal,

Why go far! We have a great quote in our own language: "Khalayegh har cheh layegh"

Ahvaz / March 4, 2010 5:47 PM

This is a very important discussion and needs to be developed further. Below is a related post I made on Iranian.com that to some may seem negative but does point out a basic reality all Iranians need to deal with; our inherently undemocratic culture.


The Green Movement is Not Doomed

by Mohammad Alireza

"Almost everything that has been written about Iran these past months has made the assumption that one of the primary goals of the Green Movement is to transform Iran into a democracy.

However, there exists a fundamental problem; everybody is making the assumption that Iranians in Iran know what democracy is and how the democratic process works.

The truth is Iranians in Iran do not have the faintest idea how democracy works simply because Iranian culture and Islam, as practiced in Iran, are both undemocratic.

Almost every Iranian home has a petty tyrant shouting orders at the rest of the family. Companies, organizations, educational institutions, are structured and run on a dictatorial system. Even those protesting in the streets are assuming that some "leader" will emerge to show them the way to end their misery.

So, when Iranians shout death to the dictator they need to understand that removing Ahmadinejad or Khamenie will not achieve anything if the rest of Iran operates along dictatorial lines.

Only when Iranians learn how to sit around a table and conduct themselves in a democratic manner will this country evolve out of this backwardness.

Dictatorship will end in Iran when Iranians have a very clear understanding of how the democratic process works and how it is implemented.

It is pointless to say you want democracy and "Death to the Dictator" if you do not have a clue as to what democracy is and how it works.

If you don't believe me then next time you see or hear people shout "Marg Bar Dictator" ask them what they want instead and quiz them about the democratic process. I am willing to bet you that those individuals all live in a home that the father behaves like a dictator and they themselves will behave like a dictator with their own children. Gather ten or twenty of them in a room and watch them arrive at a decision; almost certainly they will not know how to implement democratic principles and instead will chaotically stumble towards a decision by way of who shouts loudest.

Iranian society is undemocratic on almost every level so how can it possibly transform itself into a democracy when nobody knows what democracy is and how it works?

As they say, if you don't know where you are going then any path will take you there."

Mohammad Alireza / March 5, 2010 1:44 AM

The notion that Iranians outside of Iran are out of touch and irrelevant to the movement is, quite frankly, absurd. Many in the Iranian expat community are people who were protesting in the streets of Tehran a few months ago. Many others are journalists, political activists, or former public officials that have fled Iran in fear of persecution or after imprisonment. Those that follow news, actively pursue ideas, and propose strategies for the green movement are much more “in touch” with the movement than the millions of Iranians that live in Iran but carry on their daily lives, use state sponsored media as their sole source of information, or live in complete oblivion to the developments of the green movement.
To those that believe that a movement spearheaded by Iranians outside of Iran is not plausible one must point out that history disagrees with them. Sun Yat-sen overthrew the Qing dynasty while spending most of his life in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Japan, raising money from the Chinese expat communities and dissidents outside of China. He wrote his political philosophy, Three Principles of The People – which was used as the basis of establishing The Republic of China, while living outside of China.
In fact, history is abundant with revolutions led by people in exile. We can of course look at a closer example, Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the revolution in 1979 from Paris. The truth of the matter is that one’s relevance is determined by their knowledge, experience, and effort they put forward, not by their physical location. And since those of us that live outside of Iran have greater freedom to organize and strategize, it should be our responsibility to carry this movement toward its success.

Aras / March 5, 2010 2:09 AM

Thank you for clarification, Nillofar. You are right, They is US and we are Them.

I also read Mr. Shah's comment citing the number of Basij and prison cells in Iran. It appears that he is trying to justify a "revolutionary" movement.

I personally believe we first need a cultural evolution that can lead to a political transformation.

In my humble opinion the age of revolution, in its traditional sense is over, and we Iranians may want to consider leading an evolutionary transformation which is distinctly different than a reform movement.

Fundamentalism is steeped in the past and looks into past to control the now and direct the future.

Fundamentalism, regardless of its roots and origin, freely employees, and readily justifies, use of force and destruction to forward its goals. This reptilian behavior has ensured their survival for centuries. Neither its ideological outlook powered by the past nor its self-preserving destructive nature can or should be reformed.

Therefore, those connected with the current fundamentalist establishment, past and present, should not be considered for any role in the future of Iran be it leadership, advisory or otherwise.

We need to be very careful not to select any “leader” just because of the existing leadership vacuum. It is like drinking poison to quench thirst!

Also Mr. Pirouz's comment challenges the lack of unity among Iranians and cites the Iraq war as an example of how we came together.

Uniting people against a common enemy or ideology is how all wars have been started, fought and -- every single one -- lost even when there is a declared "winner."

We do not need to go far to examine this. We have exercised this in our own country: united against the old regime to bring this regime to power; united against Iraq to preserve our national pride; united against America, Britain, etc; united against each other who are better Muslims than others!!

We have lost on all accounts. And we will lose again if we act out haste, frustrated emotions, and employ destructive methods as away of bringing about constructive change.

The challenge, and thus the opportunity, lies in uniting to construct and not destruct; to act out of clear desire and intention rather than fear; to give life rather than destroy it.

If we, as Iranians, can unit behind such outlook, a suitable leader will stand to occasion and together we can rebuild our country to its deserving glory.

Jamal / March 5, 2010 3:05 AM

Dear Jamal,

RE: "I believe we need a cultural evolution that can lead to a political transformation"

I am with you 100%. A+++

My quote "Khalayegh har cheh Layegh" , although perhaps too harsh and simplistcic, was meant to convey the message that before we can change our country, we must first change ourselves and our behavior throught cultural evolution. Otherwise, it is the "same soup and the same bowl".

You mentioned "respect". Yes. Absolutley key.
respect for life
respect for human rights
respect for others' opinion
respect for Majority will
respect for Minority will
respect for other nations
respect for other religion and
respect for women's rights

Equaly important is ending personality-based politics.

And finally separation of religion and politics.

The most encouraging trend that i see (coming from comments I read on balatarin, etc) is that our youths in Iran are becoming amazingly progressive. They are evolving fast, leaving the old closed-minded conservatives in their dust. It is now just a matter of time.

Ahvaz / March 5, 2010 6:43 AM

Excellent article

Ali / March 5, 2010 9:34 AM

You are spot on. Don't let nay sayers with cute user names make you doubt it. There is no unity, no leadership no connection between leadership and followers. There is only rhetoric coming from the leadership and we hang on to it because we no not what else to do. The minute someone (like yours truly) makes the slightest criticism of the leadership they get bombarded by the gungho twitterati whom in the end no one can indentify! I think if everyone who was supporting this movement abroad used their own name we would be much better off. Also it is heart-breaking that not two of the five intellectual can agree on their own manifesto which many of us were hoping would unite at least the opposition abroad.
No one is afraid of the consequences of '79 the reformists since 18 tir are afraid of a revolution that will sweep them too. The wealthy Iranians who have profited by this black market economy do not what change. The students who provided the real impetus in this movement are raped and jailed or killed. The US has abandoned us becuase of a naive presidents stubborn belief that he can talk any foe into peace. And we Iranians suffer because of over sized egos and self-serving so called advocates of change who can never follow each other or agree on anything.
Some of us who have waited for 30 years are tired.
thank you,

Setareh Sabety / March 5, 2010 10:54 AM


'imposed war'?

You mean the one you imposed on yourself after refusing to stop it and INVADING Iraq to 'pray in karbala'?

As for Iranians working together, all you need is a pair of eyes to see if they do or not. It's easy, you can see things like traffic from tv reports/documentaries on Iran (or if you're in Iran you know) and notice people's behavior, how they drive, no need to examine politics. There are much more examples than traffic but you get the point.

GeneralOreo / March 5, 2010 12:35 PM


There seems to be a shared mindset that a cultural evolution can be a supportive first step towards a transformation of our political system.

I would like, as away of benefiting from the wisdom of the crowd, ask a specific question in that regards:

To be precise, I am asking for specific tactical steps rather than a philosophical debate about why we are here or how we got here.

So, here is my inquiry:
What are some the specific steps we as people of the Iranian society, regardless of geography, may consider taking to get on that path?

If anyone knows others (Iranian or otherwise) with expertise in areas helpful in guiding our thoughts in that direction, please ask for their advisement and involvement.

Jama / March 5, 2010 11:30 PM


Excuse me for failing to be polite, but the truth need be said.

The Iranian people as a whole (all segments of society) need to get off their arse.

The Iranian people as a whole must realize their God given rights and be willing to fight and even die for them. Every progressive nation has fought for its rights at one time or another. Iranians are no exception.

The Iranian people as a whole need to develop a little more courage to confront these Barbarians head on e.g. come out to streets and stay there in mass numbers to cause the collapse of the system. This is the very minimum.

Reliance on a few kids painted in green is not the answer. They are simply made into great targets that are taken out quite effectively through time. No idiot walks into the battle field dressed in "come and get me” costume. It provided effective means for publicity, but it has outlived its usefulness. It is time for a new strategy. It is time for camouflage. It is time for battle. It is time for FREEDOM.Isn't 31 years long enough to learn anything?

A change requires the participation of the nation as a whole. It requires leadership to organize, manage, support and finance the moves when necessary. Leadership must be on the outside for operational security. It must be a group effort.

Iranian military is weak, ill trained, under equipped and devoid of professional leadership. The troops in the streets are an army of thugs driven by financial rewards. They do not have their hearts into it. A prolonged resistance will break their backs in no time. This is the very reason why the thought of chahar shanbeh soori makes them shiver in their boots. Why? They are scared of mass numbers.

To think characters such as Mousavi or Karubi who have spent a life time creating this monster, who have participated directly or indirectly in mass executions of fellow Iranians, and who had no problems with this very system until their own very personal interests were stepped on, would put an end to their own creation and consequently existence is simply dumb.

Green, Internet, face book, Google, Yahoo etc. etc., but at the end of the day it is the sweat and blood of you Iranian that will take the country back. Anything else is a green fantasy Island designed to divert your attention.
God Bless America, my home. God Bless Persia, the country these Barbarians took away from me.

Sohrab / March 6, 2010 7:56 AM

Thank you for your comments Sohrab.

Your anger and disappointment comes across very clearly, and it seems you have found what is right for you in selecting America as your home.

However, I am reminded by Nilloolofar's comment in this post stating: WE are THEM and THEY are US!

And that is the TRUTH we need own before we can make progress.

Having said that, my inquiry is about what WE WANT rather than how we got here, who is to blame and how we can destruct them because of THEIR wrong doings.

This methodology fueled by raw and frustrated emotions has gotten us to where we are today.

Let us consider take a different path this time as a way of creating our desired future.

Let's put the past behind and STOP energizing it by constantly interacting with it in our heads and through our expressed and unexpressed emotions.

Let's us move forward by clarifying WHAT WE WANT and what steps are required to get us there. Within that lies unity, constructive movement and accomplishment of our common goal - A free democratic Iranian society.

jamal / March 7, 2010 7:04 AM


"Let's us move forward by clarifying WHAT WE WANT and what steps are required to get us there."

Jamal, everyone knows what WE WANT. Everyone knows HOW WE GOT HERE. That is the easy part. WE have had 31 YEARS to think it over.

Jamal, how do you talk to a group of murdering, rapist thugs? How do you talk to people whose sole existence is to destroy you, your country and your culture?

Jamal, there is plenty of time for political and philosophical exchange after the country is freed from the hands of these Barbarians.

Isn't it time for us to brush aside this urge to sound sophisticated and focus on reality at hand? There is a time for talk and then there is a time for war. A time for valor and protection of what is sacred to all of us.

We all have one common denominator to stand united shoulder to shoulder and that is called IRAN.
God Bless America, my home. God Bless Persia, the country these Barbarians took away from me.

Sohrab / March 7, 2010 9:39 PM