Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Discontent and Iranian National Interests

We, in the US, were finally able to see and hear the much talked about disenchanted ME youth. The Iranian democratic electoral system, at least in ME standards, provided an outlet for Iranians to express their political preferences, yet it was not equipped to handle a wide perception of vote fraud. The youth in Iran clearly perceive themselves as disconnected from the current Iranian power configuration between the supreme leaders and elected officials. Their frustrations about the election results where less associated with love and loyalty to Mosavi, who is not necessarily known for his progressive reform agenda, and more with a frustration of Iran being associated with hardliners like Ahmadinajad.

My personal feeling having read and watched news coverage is somehow mixed. On one hand the passionate Iranian demonstration express a joined feeling that is all too real in the ME, and particularly real in Iran where democratic practises have a long tradition. Yet the region, including Israel, has seen a turn to the right. In the case of Iran it would be a continuation of a turn to the right. Nationalism and national interests are playing an ever increasing role in ME domestic politics. Did the Iranian people realize their national interest in owning Nuclear capabilities which would make them a regional power, much to the dismay of the region, US and EU, and have voted accordingly?

All signs point that this is what happened.

I believe that the Iranian liberal intelligentsia and youth have their work cut out for them. It will be an uphill battle to argue the case that Ahmadinajad's agenda, gamble in my opinion, is not in Iran's long-term interest.

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