Thursday, December 10, 2009

Decoupling Iran and the Palestinians

In a fascinating article in the WSJ, entitled "Iran's Democratic Moment", we see a clear trend of protesters starting to demand an "Iranian Republic" not an "Islamic Republic."

The most interesting part of the article wasn't so much that the movement wants an Iranian Republic, but that they are clearly decoupling anti-Israel rhetoric and support for Palestinians from Iranian independence.
On Jerusalem Day, Sept. 18, officially intended to express anti-Semitism, the opposition showed that Iranians have no hostility toward Jews or Israel. One popular slogan was "Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah! I give my life for Iran!" Another was "Forget about Palestine! Think about our Iran!"

Most significantly, the movement that started as a protest against the alleged rigging of the election that gave a second term to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been evolving. The crowds' initial slogan was "Where Is My Vote?" and the movement's accidental leaders, including former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, tried hard to keep the protest confined to demands such as a recount of the votes and, ultimately, a runoff in accordance with the law.

The slogans of the protestors are no longer about election fraud. Today they include "Death to the Dictator," "Freedom Now," and "Iranian Republic, Not Islamic Republic!" One slogan is a direct message to President Barack Obama: "Obama, Are You With Us or With Them?"

It is crucial for the USA to reject Iranian opposition leaders to the current regimes as possible options. The Iranian protesters for democracy do not view them as viable alternatives.
In short, the protestors no longer regard the present regime as the legitimate government of the country.

Both Mr. Mousavi and Ayatollah Mahdi Karroubi, another defeated presidential candidate, tried to prevent attacks on the "Supreme Guide" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the hope of eventually making a deal with him. As part of such a deal, they promised to defend the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, according to sources close to the opposition. The crowds have rejected that by shouting: "Abandon uranium enrichment! Do something about the poor!"

They clearly reject Iran's nuclear program, which is good for Israel.

President Obama should be supporting the protest movement, though the US has a poor record on such support, if one uses Tiananmen Square protests as a litmus test of what to expect.

Even more important -- President Obama should realize that linkage of the Palestinian issue with Iran's nuclear program doesn't serve anyone's interest, except that of Ahmadinejad.

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Anonymous said...

I can't really agree with you about your expectation for support of any kind of political demonstration, from the president of the USA.

That's because we should be learning to mind our own business, instead of minding someone else's. Supporting various factions involved in Middle East politics is what got us into the giant mess that we're in now.

We should be trying to slowly back away from the whole political nightmare over there, and let the people who live there work out their differences. After all, that's what we expect the world to do when we are having "issues." Israel expects the same thing.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Anonymous: The US exists today because France helped the US in 1776.

Israel survival is in part due to help from the US.

Fledgling democracies need help from others.

Despotic terrorist populations like the Palestinians, don't.

Ray Pelland said...

What Jameel said. Democracy is a fragile concept that requires support from those who want to see more of it in the world. Self-serving dictators and theists will always find reasons to snuff it out to increase their personal power and appropriate the wealth of their people. The last thing ME Arabs need is a hands-off approach from the West. They need our help finding a better life through democratic means. Let's give them as much as we can.

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