Criticism Iran The Opinionsphere

A Different Take on the Iranian Situation

M. K. Bhadrakumar writing in the Asia Times last week seemed to have an entirely foreign take on the Iranian crisis. It’s unclear to me if he has a different perspective or if he is just plain wrong. Supporting the idea that he is just wrong is the predictive statement he made about the protests dying out, as he wrote last Thursday – the 18th:

The signs are that the color revolution struggling to be born on the streets of Tehran has had a miscarriage.

He also seems to vaguely suggest that the Iranian Green Revolution is foreign-sponsored – but in a vague way that may just be the result of a poor translation.

Bhadrakumar states that:

Rafsanjani is undoubtedly the West’s favorite poster boy…

I’m not sure where he gets that. Or even what he means by it. But I am pretty certain this isn’t true.

Bhadrakumar also speaks of a Mousavi-Rafsanjani animus which I wasn’t aware of – as most news reports have only mentioned on the Khamenei-Mousavi rivalry – and how Rafsanjani’s timely intervention actually led to Khamenei becoming Supreme Leader.

Finally, he praises the one statement by Obama on the matter that I have seen condemned virtually everywhere:

But Obama is treading softly. He said late on Tuesday there appeared to be no policy differences between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. “The difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as has been advertised. Either way, we are going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States.”

That’s a cleverly drafted formulation. Prima facie, Obama pleases the regime in Tehran insofar as he appears “stand-offish” as to what ensues through the coming days by way of the street protests or out of the deliberations of Iran’s Guardians Council. Fair enough. But, on the other hand, Obama also is smartly neutralizing any allegation that the Rafsanjani-Khatami-Mousavi phenomenon is in any way to be branded by the Iranian regime as “pro-US”. Obama’s remark helps the Iranian opposition to maintain that its motivations are purely driven by Iran’s national interests.

5 replies on “A Different Take on the Iranian Situation”

@no: I’ll check out that article. But at the very least – Bhadrakumar is wrong in his assessment of Rafsanjani as being the “West’s favorite poster boy” and the phrasing of what seems to be his accusation of Western meddling is odd:

Western capitals must make a difficult choice: how long to pin hopes on the eruption of a “color” revolution in Tehran? The burden falls almost entirely on Europe, since Washington has different priorities.

The United States cannot afford to be spotted in the barricades on the frontline of any attempt to prise open the Iranian regime at this delicate point in Middle Eastern politics…

Within Europe, it is unclear who is spearheading the charge of the light brigade…Europe has no real experience in staging color revolutions.

At the start, he seems to suggest a mainly passive role for the West – and then he moves to more militant terms – and it is very unclear if he is merely talking about support or staging.

And while Bhadrakumar writes in both posts about Rafsanjani and Khamenei’s relationship – he never mentions that it was Rafsanjani’s intervention in the aftermath of the Ayatollah Khomenei’s death that led to Khamenei being chosen as Supreme leader. ( Bhadrakumar’s history ignores this – instead saying that Rafsanjani opposed Khamenei’s attempt to become Supreme Leader.

Bhadrakumar also dismissed the protests as having accomplished nothing. I find that difficult to believe – and premature to say at this point. The reform movement may not accomplish what it is seeking now – but as long as the movement remains unbroken it will be a force in Iran and will exert it’s influence. The government may have contained it for now, but it has not defeated it as the Chinese did in Tiananmen Square or the Soviets did in Hungary.

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