Iran Primer: The Green Movement
Oktober 28, 2010 Hinterlasse einen Kommentar
A new opposition was born after the disputed June 12, 2009, presidential election that changed the face of Iranian politics — and Iran. A nation long maligned — for a regime of corrupt zealots that harbored terrorists and took diplomats hostage — suddenly became a beacon of democratic hope. The movement was widely seen as a new nonviolent, nonutopian, and populist paradigm of revolution that infused twenty-first century Internet technology with people street power. In turn, the regime’s facade as a populist theocracy, led by a divinely sanctioned „guardian“ and supported by a deeply pious nation, was torn asunder.
Over the next six months, the Green Movement evolved from a mass group of angry voters to a nationwide force demanding the democratic rights originally sought in the 1979 revolution, rights that were hijacked by radical clerics. Every few weeks, protesters took to the streets to challenge the regime and its leadership. But by early 2010, the regime had quashed public displays of opposition. The Green Movement retreated into a period of soul-searching and regrouping.
The Green Movement is, in its composition and genealogy, both old and new. The revolution of 1979 was the result of a historically incongruent alliance between modernizing middle and technocratic classes, the urban poor, women’s and students‘ groups, some disgruntled members of Iran’s new industrialist class, members of the bazaar and „de-modernizing“ forces led by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The foot-soldiers of the revolution were the new urbanites — culturally religious, conservative, and a-modern, if not anti-modern, peasants who had come to the cities in search of their share of petro-dollars.
Since 1941, this class had been assiduously courted by radical Islamist groups. They played an important role in the 1979 revolution. They have since splintered into factions that are today pitted against each other. They were part of the incongruent coalition that overthrew the shah. Included in that coalition were Mir Hossein Mousavi and his activist wife Zahra Rahnavard, who represented the moderate religious elements of the unwieldy anti-shah coalition. At the other end of the coalition were forces today represented by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies in the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and Basij. They represent the Nietzschean resentments of the new conservative urbanites and their déclassé leaders.
After Ali Khamenei succeeded revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini as supreme leader in 1989, he needed to find a political and social base of his own. He lacked charisma, and his religious credentials were weak. He increasingly relied on and strengthened these forces, particularly the IRGC. Khomeini had banned the IRGC from politics, but Khamenei encouraged both political and economic involvement.