Friday, July 31, 2009

Iran: Opposition vs. Government, the Way Ahead

President Ahmadinejad said today in Tehran that the “devils” were perpetrating the allegations of division between him and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, over his recent selection of his vice president. Interestingly enough, the hardliners and close allies of Khamanei were the most vocal critics of Ahmadinejad’s choice. It was not clear from Ahmadinejad’s statement if he was classifying those allies, among them Keyhan’s influential editor Hossein Shariatmadari, as “evils.” Denying the growing tensions among the conservative camp would not make them disappear.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said in Tehran today that the post-election demonstrations and the current pro-opposition movement were the work of foreign countries. He also blamed Britain, and not Iran’s Basij and security forces, for the killing of demonstrators on the streets of Tehran.

This blogger expected the government to learn a thing or two from the opposition movement, its strength and its simple and just demands as well as lessons learned from government’s heavyhandedness in dealing with young demonstrators. Instead they are following the familiar path of blaming everything on foreigners. The more I listen to such statements by government officials, the more I become convinced that they have lost touch with realities on the ground.

We are entering a delicate and probably a prolong period of balance of fear between the government and the opposition, each having its own support among segments of the population, but neither able to get rid of the other, either by use of force by the government or by street demonstrations by the opposition.

This is a rare opportunity for the opposition to mature and organize for a fundamental change in the way the country is governed. The strength of the opposition was again tested during city-wide demonstration in Tehran in commemoration of the 40th Day anniversary of the death of Neda and other slain demonstrators. And the maturity of the the opposition leaders in handling the delicate task of organizing the memorial service at Behesht Zahra was also put on display.

No comments: