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February 17, 2010
Autopsy of Iran's Green Movement

People have asked me to elaborate further on why I think the "Green Movement" failed to make any impact during the anniversay celebrations in Iran last week. I think there are a number of reasons -- some blame the IRI, others the Green Movement itself, but the real reason is this: All the talk about toppling regimes and bombings and supporting ethnic separatists etc. has backfired on Washington by squelching the space for any real movement for change in Iran to develop. Washington's endless hostility and pressure on Iran for the last 30 years, especially but not limited to the nuclear issue which enjoys massive popularity across the political spectrum in Iran, has so polarized the atomosphere, narrowed willingess to explore options, and created a seige mentality in the public that there is no room for a "third movement" to arise in Iran that has the credibility and the popular trust to accomplish anything. The people prefer going with the regime, for all its faults, than to the alternatives (and in fact, as discussed below, there are no real credible alternatives presented either.)

Iranians see their country as being under seige and continued talk about sanctions that will supposedly cause so much harm to the people that they will rise up and do Washington's dirty work for of toppling the regime, or will force Iran to give up her massively poular nuclear program, only contributes to that perception.

Other lesser reasons which are mentioned by others:

First, as I said before, there is no real evidence that the elections were stolen in the first place, or that Ahmadinejad is so massively unpopular as some have claimed. If you don't want to believe the polling, just as yourself a logical question: Mousavi, the Green leader who supposedly actually won, is a regime-insider and who was specifically pre-cleared and vetted to run for office by the regime. So why would the same regime have to resort to massive election fraud to keep him out of office? It just makes no sense. Until you can come up with a colorable answer to that question, you've no business accusing anyone of stealing elections. (Most of the pro-Greens usually evade this question entirely, saying "it doesn't matter because this isn't about Mousavi" which is ridiculous, then they "appeal to emotion" by retelling about how awful the security crackdown has been and how many people were beaten etc. - as if atrocity makes up for their lack of a logical answer to a logical question.)

Second, the depth and breadth of support for the regime is consistently underestimated. This is partly due to the influence of wishful thinking by regime opponents, and their willingness to believe their own propaganda. I have already mentioned how the media in the US has been foretelling the imminent collapse of the regime practically eveyday for the last 30 years. Look folks, the bottom line is that since the revolutions, Iranians are better off than ever before. They live longer, healthier lives; they are far better educated, have better access to electricity, water, paved roads, etc. than ever before. This is simply an undeniable, statistically-proven fact (which leads the regime opponents to say "But those improvement are in line with the average improvements internationally" -- which may be true, but is irrelevant to the point. The regime has taken care of the people, and there is simply no doubt about it.)

Third, as much as some people want to deny it, the fact is that the "Greens" do not have a wide social base and represented a narrow class of people in Iran -- specifically, the more secular, educated, upper-class which explains their access to Twitter and Facebook etc. We've also heard about how the "youth" will topple the regime, but this is something I've heard for over a decade now. Even if there is a large youth contingent, that doesn't mean much. After all, would you trust your future to the hands of a petulant 20-something year old? Similarly, the analysts who reduced the conflict between "Mollahs" and everyone else were ridiculously shallow. The main backer of the Mousavi faction is Rafsanjani, a very prominent figure in the regime as well as a cleric (who incidentally is also often accused of massive corruption.) Ahmadinejad is not a cleric but is a technocrat.

Third, there is a general lack of leadership amongst the Greens, for a variety of reasons, but especially because...

Fourth, the Greens have no real agenda. All the petulance and empty sloganeering about "Freedom" etc make for great photo-ops, but not are just not a convincing substitute. (one of the problems in the West is that since they are so influenced by PR, they think that PR can be the solution to everything.) The demonstrators come across as just a confused bunch of repressed people who want to let off steam and break stuff, with some vague "Feel-good" chants. The only thing that barely unites them is some vague "opposition" to something -- not clear what. Some oppose the election results only, some oppose Ahmadinejad, some oppose the concept of the constitutional Supreme Jurisprudent, some simply want more social freedoms, some want to topple the regime entirely, etc. This was obvious in the number and variety of figures whom the Western media presented as ostensible "leaders" of the Green movement -- former crown prince, MEK spokesmen, movie directors, regime-insiders like Mousavi and Karroubi, reformists politicians like former President Khatami, etc. Clerics, secularists, Monarchists, the MEK, NeoCons etc. were all trying to climb onto the "Green Movements" wagon and take control of the steering by imposing their own agendas on the movement. Who's going to buy into that? None of these people have the necessary credibility or gravitas. Iranians have long-since become inured to calls for revolutions and regime-topplings by the Washington/Tel Aviv hawks and the Exile-TV crowd who rushed to lay claim to the green movement, and disregard them (or think them to be downright silly and immoral.)

Fifth, the people in Iran are once-bitten, twice-shy. They see all the posturing and rhetoric about regime change that has been coming from Washington and Tel Aviv for decades. They're not foolish enough to think that the denizens of the think tanks in DC really give a fig about human rights and democracy in Iran, and so they naturally wonder what's really behind the so-called Green movement. You can say this is "conspiracy thinking" but lets face it, there's more than enough justification for this sort of suspicion about the so-called Green movement.

Finally, I have to say that the conduct of some of the people identifying themselves as Greens was a major turnoff. The rioting, the burning of busses, the fighting in the street, the obvious appeals to foreign intervention by some who at least claimed to be members of the movement, the intolerance and "black v. white" mentality displayed towards people who may not agree 100% with them (read comments below for an example) all raise significant questions about what these people would be like once in power.

Posted on February 17, 2010 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

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My friend, if that’s what you really think then you’re in denial. Wake up, love your country, support it’s sovereignty and stand up to those who have no intention other than ransacking it. The BP claimed 86% of our oil back in early 19th century, and when Mosaddegh tried to get rid of the tyrant, they planned for a military intervention. It is no different now than it was then, Ahmadinejad has been standing restlessly to half the world for mine and your rights, why can’t we reciprocate for our country’s sake?

Posted by: Ray | February 22, 2010 at 05:13 PM

Millions who turned out? You mean the millions who were bribed and fed and bused from all over the country in order to make it "TV-friendly". They knew months and days in advance; there's tons of youtube videos out there showing the government handing out packets of food and bribing the people. Are there supporters of this regime? Of course. How many (%-wise)? No clue. But surely less than you think.

[The suggestion that the rally participants showed up only because they're fed and bused is laughable.]

Posted by: Niema A | February 22, 2010 at 01:06 AM

Guys I was just being flippant, I thought you may have been able to pick that up by reading the rest of the comment. I merely was proving Cyrus’s point that the so called “majority” as Nima A puts it really do have no real agenda, and on that point, Nima, were you blind to see the millions who, on the anniversary of the revolution, came out on the streets in support of their government? That is factual, your views and other Green supporters are opinionated, sensationalised by the western media. As for me being blinded by Islam, I put it to you that I am first an Iranian, then a Muslim. I respect all faiths, what I don’t respect is how the western politicians including the Zionists and their supporters like you aim to blatantly take our sovereignty away and throw Iran and its citizens into a prehistoric era.
On a side note, I’d like to congratulate all Iran loving compatriots the first fully Iranian designed and manufactured frigate / destroyer Jamaran, to add to our list of achievements. Well done to the 100s and 1000s of Iranian engineers and scientists involved. You make us proud of being Iranian.

Posted by: Ray | February 20, 2010 at 04:30 AM

In the USSR some young people were dreaming about nigt clubs and visas to the West. Ater the end of USSR some of them got what they want, but a majority ( and their parents) were robbed and dispossed of decent free healthcare and eductaion, of stable employment, of affordable housing and recreation, of culture and so on. No wonder that so-called "reformers and democrats" (i.e. Western puppets) are hated almost unanimously (one of them, one E. Gaidar recently got about 15% approvement rate for his "reforms" in the beginning of 1990th)

Posted by: lidia | February 19, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Beautifully said Cyrus, thank you!

I do have to agree with MoonofA that you should have mentioned the role Israel and the US played in fomenting the protests.

You know, no matter how many times I witness the supporters of the “opposition” resort to insults, ad hominem attacks, and in some cases, threats, I don’t cease to be amused. I ask again, if they ever come into power, is this how they intend to safeguard the rights of those who they claim were the minority? By telling them to “khafeh sho!” This is hilarious and yet profoundly sad. The Iranian system is surely less than perfect now, but can you imagine if these people ever take over!

Ray: I understand you want “to be able to dance in a night club, get pissed out of [your] head and well whatever it may come next, …” Personally, I sympathize with you and possibly thousands of Iranian youth who long for same types of western style personal freedom. Ask yourself, however, is this really what the majority of Iranian people want? Give yourself a sincere answer.

Just a couple of little anecdotes on nightclubbing/dancing. After the June presidential elections, several people in Iran (not just Tehran) told me that they were going to vote for Mousavi but changed their minds and voted for Ahmadinejad when, on their satellite televisions, they saw dancing boys in the streets of Tehran. Those images alarmed and frightened them. Others told me what changed their minds was the young Gharbzadeh women looking pretty in upper Tehran and shouting “ye hafteh, do hafteh, Ahmadi hamoom narafteh!”

This election was about values and class and Ahmadinejad won fair and square. Anyway, it is not like Mousavi was going to line the streets of Tehran with nightclubs dear.

Right now, the West and Israel have left you no choice. You can have your nightclub enabling tyranny (some type of repressive/puppet of American Corporatocracy regime) or a democracy with a twist. I take the latter.

Posted by: Goli | February 18, 2010 at 11:06 PM

No, I, unlike you, support the people's movement for freedom, whatever that might be. The problem with you, is that you are clearly blinded by Islam. Either you support this regime or you don't, and by the looks of it, it seems that you tolerate rape and murder. You should clearly be afraid. The Shah, sure stole millions of dollars, but that's NOTHING compared to what this terrorist government in Iran is doing. Wake up. Open your eyes. I'm not a Shah supporter, but you have to understand that the Shah's rule is seen much more nostalgically and in fonder memory than the garbage dictatorship we have now. What you fail to realize is that the majority of Iran support regime change. It's one thing to accuse Mousavi and Karoubi of being insiders (which they are, they aren't the truth leaders, the movement is leaderless), but it's another to justify this regime.

Are you even Iranian?

["support the people's movement for freedom, whatever that might be" -- wow such strong convictions. I support freedom or whatever too. LOL! Stop being so self-important, empty slogans don't mean anything.]

Posted by: Niema A | February 18, 2010 at 07:45 PM

What an absolute idiot is this Nima A, a perfect example of the oppressed becoming an oppressor, if the shoe was to be on the other foot. Nima obviously is a Pahlavi supporter to endorse Shah’s regime over the IRI, yet he considers himself part of the Green revolution. Exactly what are the building blocks of the Green structure? So far we’ve counted MI6, CIA, MKO, MOSSAD, Pahlavi’s foundation, Mousavi, Kahrobi, the entire VOA’s personnel!!! I see what you mean Cyrus when you say they have no real agenda.
You ask Cyrus for a reason why he doesn’t criticise A Khamenei, I can give you more than one, unlike Shah who took strict instruction from the White House and gave a sizable amount of our wealth to the foreign powers, A Khamenei has stood against foreign tyranny, surely Shah’s policy with 45 Million population, couldn’t have stayed sustainable for the needs of Iran today, I mean just how long could Iran have gone on giving away oil concessions of 50% and above so just to keep the bosses happy? now if you are so stupid to see that, then you deserve to stay a dissident as you’d do no favour to Iran if you ever lived there.
As for your threats, keep them coming as they carry on proving Cyrus’s point, that you thugs have no real agenda and just want to blow off steam.

Posted by: Ray | February 18, 2010 at 09:46 AM

FYI Niema, Cyrus has friends who are in prison in Iranright now.
Cyrus on the topic of how the MEK terrorists are trying to ride and control the Green wagon: have you seen the Hiffington Post piece by Khazaii who calls for US support of "the dissident" referring to themselves? Disgusting opportunism.

Posted by: Gerwyn | February 18, 2010 at 08:21 AM

I am getting tired of how people inadvertently give some kind of legitimacy or even credibility to this Green movement malarkey. The entire Green Movement structure is underpinned by a handful of Pillars, three of whom are Mr Chalangi, Mr Nourizadeh and Mr Sazegara, one is an MI6 agent and the other two are CIA born and bred. Mr Mousavi or even the other corrupt cleric, what’s his name, oh yes Kahrobi, couldn’t possibly be further away from the objective of this propaganda designed by the same organisations.
Just like Iraq, one major issue that the foreign forces overlooked was the culture and belief of the Iraqi locals. It’s a typical attitude of the western politicians to insist on matching their version of democracy and freedom with that of wherever it is they infiltrate. Yet in our case they made the same mistake all over again, they failed to realise that the regime is backed by a large Iranian nation with strong ideology and in such circumstances, playing one faction against the other is an unsustainable policy to adapt. This argument is underpinned by millions of Iranian people voicing their opinion on the streets of towns and cities around the country, denying this is a fallacy and if anyone thinks that the regime has actually more against than for then they are in denial.
Luckily, many revelations have surfaced in the past few months which have turned many people away who may have been fooled into thinking that there really was some kind of electoral fraud.
Having failed miserably, the propaganda machine now needs new ideas, yet the enrichment goes on.

Posted by: Ray | February 18, 2010 at 07:22 AM

Do you know persian my dear?
If you do: KHAFE SHO!

Posted by: q | February 18, 2010 at 06:10 AM

"If you don't want to believe the polling, just as yourself a logical question: Mousavi, the Green leader who supposedly actually won, is a regime-insider and who was specifically pre-cleared and vetted to run for office by the regime. So why would the same regime have to resort to massive election fraud to keep him out of office? It just makes no sense. "

I agree with a lot of what you say and this is a strong argument, but I don't think it's quite the definitive rebuttal to accusations of fraud that you present it as. It's not impossible for example that calculations changed over time (Mousavi looked like more of an insider when he was cleared than he did in the week before the elections when the Green Movement took on more of a "movement for change" character), people miscalculated or panicked (eg noone initially expected him to stand a realistic chance and allowed him in to allow a semblance of diverse choice), different people were responsible for different decisions (clearing Mousavi vs orchestrating fraud) and so on. Governments etc do often wind up making stupid or seemingly nonsensical decisions for a whole variety fo reasons such as not being able to accurately predict the future and the existence of competing contradictory currents within them. It is a logical question, but politics often doesn't follow logic.

I do agree that the evidence for the wholesale falsification of the election results doesn't remotely justify the absolute certainty that the elections were rigged that generally prevails in the western punditocracy. It's amazing how the University of Maryland polling study for example was so comprehensively ignored by them and the media.

Posted by: stamboul | February 18, 2010 at 06:04 AM

It's almost as if Cyrus is AFRAID to criticize this regime. He's afraid. I don't know why or what motivates his writings but it's very weird to me. Cyrus, come on, no one will bite. Criticize the Khamenei regime. Please criticize the brutal, repressive, freedom-hating regime of the mullahs. Who's stuffing money in your pockets, my very misinformed friend? It's one thing to be totally anti-Shah (the Shah is a saint compared to the mullahs), but it's another to be nonchalantly supporting this regime, which is what you keep doing through you 'analysis' of the green movement. But hey, I'll give you this, when the Green Movement DOES succeed (be it months or years away), Cyrus, you will NOT be allowed to return to your motherland. Why? Because when hard times hit, you stuck with the status-quo.

Posted by: Niema A | February 18, 2010 at 05:57 AM

Sure. There are lots of problems in Iran and I agree that the government has to do a lot more to satisfy its constituents. But when a group of dissidents are been taken advantage of by the intelligence agencies of the West, their legitimate demands, albeit justified,will be seriously questioned. In particular, when its leaders are falsely accusing the rest of the nation of "electoral fraud" and their demands are strongly supported by the enemies of Iran. The Green government had some legitimate demands. But its leaders made a serious blunder and back stabbed their supporters when they sided with US, Israel, Britain, and .... Green movement needs serious reorganization of its ranks and files to become a legitimate opposition movement.

Posted by: mb | February 17, 2010 at 08:17 PM

I never realised it was leather, wow, that must be a true testament of the Pahlavi's regime at the peak of its industrial might.
Now I am often titled as a spokesperson for the regime, well amongst lots of other thing not to mention threats anyway, but if such post truly exists, then Mr Ahmadinejad, my payment is late, in fact 31 years late!
Why do these fools insist on living on cloud coo coo land Cyrus! We’ve all seen on the news today how the Israeli government organised a “pre-emptive” assassination of a Hamas member in Dubai, incidentally approved by the Prime Minster Netanyahu and yet they fail to comprehend the levels the Zionists will go to undermine and destroy AN’s government!!! The stupidity of these Green members is truly astounding.
By the way, did you like how I got the adjective pre-emptive into my paragraph! You can try this too, anything bad, just use “pre-emptive” as a prefix to it and it becomes good. Eg, Pre-emptive strike.

Posted by: Ray | February 17, 2010 at 07:09 PM

Cyrus, I'm afraid you're totally clueless on this topic. O.K. so what if we don't know what we want or as you put it, we don't have any real agenda. If we open up to the west then we can at least be let into the western embassies in order to get a visa, I want to be able to dance in a night club, get pissed out of my head and well whatever it may come next, generally live the life fantastic as they say.
You talk of real achievement over the past 31 years, you seem to be forgetting that Shah gave 50% of our national wealth away to the west, but in return he got Iran Nasional which assembled the most advance vehicle of its time and in case you're scratching your head, yes I'm talking about the PAYKAN, particularly the Javanan model with twin headlamps, so there now put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Your other argument which I think is totally baseless is the urge for Iran to gain nuclear status. I ask you and the rest of simple minded individuals who follow your blog, “why do we need a nuclear weapon program anyway?”, oh and just in case you’re going to play the peaceful nuclear program line with me, well that terminology just doesn’t wash, I mean you only have to watch a handful of mainstream broadcasters, i.e. BBC, VOA, CNN and so on and so forth who all unanimously agree with my terminology. We the Green nation unanimously agree that Iran has ample energy to sustain itself, at least for the next hundred years anyway, and why should we give a flying Dada to the future generation, I mean it’s just senseless right? We all worked hard enough now what’s wrong with them doing the same? On the subject of energy, take Gas for example, Iran has enough Gas to keep its nation warm for many years to come. If us, the Green nation alone all let one go in unity, there will be enough methane which if appropriately packaged, can then be exported which can in turn help our economy.
You talk of achievements; what have you got to say to inflation of 23%? My Mom and Dad each have 100 Million T in their banks and based on 20% interest that they gain on their safe investment, we just about get by. Well I suppose if my Dad wasn’t spending half of our income on buying opium all the god damn times, then we wouldn’t be living just above the poverty line, it’s just as well they’ve never paid a penny tax on their income otherwise we’d have been properly Dodaed, just like those poor working class beggars living in the west.
There are many other issues which I can prove that you couldn’t be more wrong with your analysis. But in conclusion I’d like to make you aware that the Green force is not a movement to be reckoned with, it’s shade may turn a little Purplish Green, or even it can eventually turn Pink, but be advised that this pink sea is producing waves far stronger than you can imagine, unless you join the sea, you’ll be crushed under its wave, (ref made to the college boy with powerful contacts) now this may come across a little intimidating, but that’s o.k. when we intimidate, we do it under the human rights charter.
Be Purplish Green or if you can’t be careful.

[You crack me up Ray! The Paykan was indeed a marvel...of some sort...but the Jian! with the leather flap sunroof! WOW!]

Posted by: Ray | February 17, 2010 at 04:30 PM

Oh here we go again. I'm not idiot now? You have no clue. You are a spokesperson for this regime. Do you have family members in Iran? Are you being paid by the government? Surely you must be. Take your garbage elsewhere and start criticizing Khamenei in Iran and see what'll happen to you.

[LOL! Thanks for proving my point.]

Posted by: Niema A | February 17, 2010 at 04:04 PM

Largely agree Cyrus.

From my observations I'd like to add a point.

The first one/two/three days were big demonstrations of people who likely believed to do something right. But then the rioters took over.

From personal experience: when rioters start to take over an issue the legitimate concerned demonstrators always leave and do not come back.

People see shops burned, windows smashed, police beaten and do not like it. It is a cost they do not want to pay. The moment the riots started the green movement was dead.

Also, one point is missing in the last graph. The whole green movement campaign was also an Israeli information operation, a quite successful one.

Notice the date this was published, June 8 2009, i.e before the election.

Posted by: MoonofA | February 17, 2010 at 02:02 PM

Oh shut up. Iranians are better now than before? Give me a god damn break. The lack of freedom in Iran trumps any supposed improvements in Iran.

You are nothing but a sad apologist for the brutal, repressive regime in Iran. Join the Green Movement now before you are seen as one of its last spokespersons.

The reason it has so far failed isn't because the masses are behind it. They are. If the Iranian government isn't afraid of the movement, they wouldn't have placed hundreds of thousands of security forces in the streets.

But I do guarantee one thing, if the regime ALLOWS protests to continue on without the threat of sniper fire, shootings, beatings, rape, then you will see millions out in the streets of every major city every day.

[It is precisely this sort of idiocy that discredits the Green movement, my friend.]

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