sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Protests in Iran

Economic and anti-government protests have been reported in at least 19 cities in Iran during the past five days. Religious, political and judicial officials have warned, threatened, reasoned with and cajoled protestors to stop civil disorders, destruction of property and rioting. 

Iranian press reported 12 people died in Esfahan. Other casualties and injuries have not been compiled, but there have been several in every city.

On the 1st, Iranian authorities threatened harsh responses to further protests. The map shows the major concentrations of civil disorders.

News services did not report what triggered the demonstrations in Mashhad, where they began. However, they did report the reasons for the protests are high prices for food and gasoline; high unemployment (over 12%); official corruption and the societal effects of extended military commitments outside Iran. The availability of cell phone service contributed to the spread of disorders. Reports in the government disruption of cell phone services to stifle communications made those protests worse.

In almost textbook fashion, economic complaints about failings to satisfy the wants and needs of the people morphed into challenges to the political authority of the ruling clerisy. Protestors called for death to the Supreme Leader and the President, by name. Most of the protests have occurred outside Tehran. If the protests are to have any impact, they must converge on Tehran because it is the center of decision-making authority. 

The protestors appear to lack the organization needed to sustain a threat to the regime so as to effect changes. The police and paramilitary units are responsive to central authority. However, if the mercantile class (the bazaar) sides with the protestors and the protestors form a movement, the threat to the regime would increase significantly.

A significant point that several experts made is that these protests are about Iranian policies and policy failures. Most of the protestors are not demanding systemic change, but rather a reform of the existing system. Many are demanding that President Rouhani keep his promises to improve the economy and to end corruption. 

Analysis

Iran (being an Asiatic country by culture, though clearly not a Confucian country) runs on the 'wasta system' in which favors are exchanged for official services. It's literally impossible to eliminate corruption in a system that is in itself and by culture, 'corrupt' by Western standards. Iran has always been a confused nation in that way. They want the benefits of a Western style of government and the prosperity of representative democracy/republic -- and at the same time want an Islamic-run police state based solely on 'corruption. Their problem is that 'you can't have your cake and eat it too'... which is true of a great many things in life.

Iran, like most Middle Eastern countries (with the exception of Israel) and Eastern Countries - such as Russia wants a strongman in charge of the country. Putin, for example, is running at an 80% approval rate domestically.

Iran did better in many ways under British rule and with the Shah, who kept those western institutions intact than it has under the mullahs, muftis, and ayatollahs, and most of the people who were alive in the "old days" are in their 60's or older. Things were orderly, you didn't have to know somebody at the power company (and offer a personal gift) to have the electricity turned on at your house, for example. The bureaucracy and the system of taxation were regulated.

Finding a balance that checks all the boxes in Iran and for the New Persian Empire will be impossible to find.


11 comments:

  1. Are the protests home grown and if not, who's behind them? All food for thought but in the meanwhile, please LOCK HER UP, along with Huma, Podesta and all the other gangsters.

    Thanks in advance.

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    1. I think that the protests are genuine, based on legitimate grievances.

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  2. Replies
    1. It's ok to blame Soros...for everything including bad weather and a broken tooth. He deserves all of it.

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  3. There seems to be a reluctance of the paramilitary to fire on their own people. That can't be good news for the clergy.

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    1. They'll bring in the Revolutionary Guards and they won't be squeamish. The paramilitary likely have family among the riotous. However, there is often a cause and effect for massacres -- Lexington Green comes to mind. The Iranians are not like the Norks. Many of them are civilized and educated men in a Persian tradition.

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  4. Uchuck the TuchuckJanuary 2, 2018 at 6:28 PM

    How "Persian" is the protest? I've heard snippets of news that some of the protesters are denouncing Mullahs and "Arabs" and harking back to the likes of Cyrus and Chambyses. Any info along those lines?

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    1. Everything about the culture is "Persian". Therefore, everything about the protest has that cultural dynamic associated with it. Despite having spent time with quite a number of Persians, I don't have it down completely. China yes, Persians, a bit less, women of any culture - heck no.

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  5. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Iranians are not, and hate to be called "Arabs". Even during the time I spent there in the late 1970's, the distinction was quite prominent, and quite often announced loudly.

    Even back then, the Persians thought the Arabs were nothing but trouble, and considered themselves quite superior to them.

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    1. Persians refer to Arabs are cowardly dogs, but I don't have many good stories of Persian bravery. I used to work with (and still know) one of the Shah's old SAVAK men. Good at torturing a helpless, handcuffed, victim. Not so good at a stand-up fight...lacked the spleen for that. There was a Persian LCDR at SEAL Teams (I think Reserve ST 1-3-5) who was caught under an America's Cup racing yacht in slippage, taking photos. That was at least twenty-five years ago. He lost respect in the community not for doing what he did to the Aussie boat, as I recall, but for getting caught. He was a bone head. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Wx7w-X31wo

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    2. I'm sure we could swap many good stories about our interactions with various foreign nationals!

      And that's a very bad way to lose face in that industry.

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