Cartoon by Bruce Plante
Iran is not near a precipice, but vast changes are afoot
The Guardian: The very idea of street protest shocked the Pahlavi regime which reacted with brutality. The Islamic republic has been used to daily street demonstrations for decades. In recent times, especially after the suppression of the green movement in 2009, the state has been acquiring the latest crowd-control methods.
The less reported, but perhaps more significant conflict in Iran, is one that has pitted the president against conservatives, supported at least by some elements of the Islamic revolutionary guard. Those who initiated the original anti-government demonstrations are trying to absorb much of the energy it released, riding the tiger they barely control. A media arm of the revolutionary guard posted on Thursday an impassioned crowd-sourced set of genuine grievances on Aparat, the Iranian version of YouTube, as a direct dig at the government, while the BBC reported that leading reformist cabinet members’ social media accounts were also hacked by groups associated with the guards.
Whatever their wrangling, both political factions are acknowledging the grievances of the crowds even as they attack and curtail their methods. Both are trying to figure out how to leverage the demonstrations to further their cause. The reformist government’s ability to deliver on its economic plan depends on its capacity to offer more social freedom to its middle class base who hungers for it, while the conservatives’ claim to deliver their less well-off supporters freedom from hunger is not without merit. Iran is a country blessed with an embarrassment of riches: it should be able to deliver both bread and circuses. The survival of the republic depends on it >>>