Saturday, June 20, 2009

The end game

I have been addicted to the news from Iran for the last few days - even in the middle of the night, I checked my twitter feeds to hear the latest from the streets of Iran. It has been an emotional roller coaster seeing the vast sea of humanity filling in every corner of Tehran, defying the supreme leader's order to end the demonstration.

For the longest time, I believed that Iran has more potential to evolve into a real democracy than most of its Arab neighbors. Compared to the monarchies of the Middle East, Iran's elections have been generally fair and square, of course with the catch that the power doesn't lie with the elected president, but it lies with the guardian counsel and supreme leader, who controls the revolutionary guard and the powerful militia. This time, people snapped when the only real thing in the Iranian democracy - the voting - turned out to be fraud; but I am not sure anymore whether it is just the fairness in elections that they want back. Or is it about curtailing the infinite powers of the parallel power structure built by Mullahs. If it is the latter, bloody days are ahead of us. It is ultimately the people's right to build a government they want and deserve; Mousavi's latest statement seems to indicate that the protests will continue. I hope he has a clear goal in mind on how to end this.

PS: How refreshing it is to see U.S keeping a low key and thus passively helping the cause in Iran. There are still reasons to like Obama :)

[picture courtesy:]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The stolen election

The Iran elections have taken over the news channels with not much real news but with rather shallow punditry. Tom Friedman's column on New York Times reveals the same pitfalls that most journalists fall into. Muslim world is diverse and the issues that they care about deeply vary from place to place. Like any other population, often the local issues play more important role than the international and ideological issues. For a man who has spent considerable number of years reporting on the middle east, the broad stroke that he paints the muslim world with is rather disappointing.
Hezbollah was defeated in the Lebanese elections. Hamas is facing an energized Fatah in the West Bank and is increasingly unpopular in Gaza. Iraqi Sunnis have ousted the jihadists thanks to the tribal Awakening movement, while the biggest pro-Iranian party in Iraq got trounced in the recent provincial runoff.
There is also an assertion here that the more liberal forces are winning and it is the beginning of a trend; as much as I would like to believe that these kind of changes are cyclical - when candidates do not deliver, people vote for a different party and such changes are not uncommon wherever there are free elections.

Glued to the news in bits and pieces and tweets, there are indications that it was a stolen election, but the reality is that people are helpless. Only thing that can be done is to insist on building better mechanisms to prevent fraud in future elections.

To the thousands of people who are marching in the streets of Tehran, your efforts are not in vain. Because of your courage and conviction, some day Iranian people will have a government they deserve -