Going back and forth between Iran and other countries for several years, I thought I surely knew everything there is to know about missing one’s country of origin, and longing to be there while living afar. I was wrong.
The massive revolution beginning in Iran has filled me with a lot of different feelings, all stemming from the fact that I’m thousands of miles away. This is nothing less than painful.
For years, I and many others spoke of a revolution that was bound to happen given the situation and conditions of Iranian society.
Such dreams often elicited counter arguments like: revolutions are things of the past, Iranian people have all bought Ahmadinejad populism and love him, and having an Islamic Republic is part and parcel of Iranian culture. I was reminded, time and again, of “cultural relativism.”
Consequently, those of us who opposed the Islamic Republic, who argued that the vast majority of Iranians want this regime to go, and that Iranians would eventually come out en masse against it, were vilified as wishful thinkers at best, and outsiders at worst.
The recent events sparked by the June 12 elections have put Iran into the headlines of the world news, and have brushed off all those assumptions about Iranian society. As has been demonstrated under the watchful eye of the entire world, Iranian people want nothing to do with the likes of Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, and their rotten regime. Even when the reformist leaders asked the people to stay home, they did not listen.
The protests are not only a movement against electoral fraud, nor rallies merely for Mir Hossein Mousavi. Iranians rallied behind the opposition leader to further pry the ever-widening split between wings of the current regime’s ruling clique. The aim: to be rid of them all, eventually.
As with every other oppressive regime, there was a split in the ruling clique over how to go forward. One wing of reformists gathered around candidates like Mousavi and Karoubi who wanted to loosen the government’s grip on the people, arguing that citizens would stand against the entire regime if it remained oppressive. The other wing, gathered around supreme leader Ayatolla Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad, argued that this opening up would only invite more aggression from people demanding more and more freedom. Both wings were right. It was the insolvable dead-end of the Islamic Republic.
In the 10th presidential elections, people who were fed-up with life under the Islamic Republic and Ahmadinejad voted for Mousavi for the reasons stated above. With their ever-present pragmatism, they wanted to open the space for more struggles and protests in the coming period. But Khamenei and Ahmadinejad knew they couldn’t afford this. They staged a de facto coup d’état and declared Ahmadinejad the winner with a ridiculously high margin of 11 million votes, showing their power to the reformist wing and letting them know who’s really in charge. What they had underestimated however, was the popular response.
June 15 saw people from all over Iran pouring into the streets. Up to two million people marched in central Tehran, with similar incidents in all major cities. Across the country, up to 5 million people took part in this extraordinary show of defiance unrivalled in Iran since the 1979 revolution. The uprising has continued despite the unwillingness of reformist leaders to lead the masses, and in the face of brutal repression by police and armed forces.
It’s not hard to see that this is the beginning of the end for the Islamic Republic. This regime, which has been doomed for about a decade, faces an all-out political, economic, administrative, and diplomatic dead-end. It will fall, sooner or later. How Iran’s history is to unfold after depends on the massive struggle of social forces in the young Iranian Revolution. One thing is certain: there is no room now for a return to the old Iranian order. Nothing will be same in Iran again.