Whats going to be the endgame in Iran?

In Iran there has been numerous protests for the last couple of months, and some people have commentated on how it will bring down the Iranian government. Currently there are riots in Tehran, and Mousavis nephew has just been killed by government forces.

I personally have two conflicting views, I see this, however unfortunate, as something akin to the ‘Prague Spring’ That the Czechs had, and it will take the current generation of protestors to somehow, work through the system in order to bring down it’s fall, if at all.

Or, the Islamic government will be brough down and a new improved Islamic light regime will be put in it’s place. I don’t expect radical changes, even if they do succeed, they’ll still have to placate that minority of conservatives to get them on board.

Status quo. The present regime stays in power, even more unpopular with Iranians than ever before. More violence, more death, power stays in the same hands and halls.

Eventually they will achieve a nuclear weapons capability. A big question is the sophistication and physical size and weight of whatever blueprint they build their nuclear device to. If the nuclear device is too large and heavy, they will not be able to deliver it via their missiles. That leaves delivery by land route with ground transportation like trucks, putting all of mainland Europe within potential threat.

What happens after that is anyone’s guess.

I’d venture to guess that Jerusalem would go POOM.

I’d venture to guess that you’d be absolutely wrong.

Nukes would be the best way for an unpopular regime to get popular. Now they can say “Look what our people did.”

Popular uprisings only work when there is some outside way to influnce them. The Communists in Russia took WWI to do it.

Franco had to have Italian soliders and German arms to win.

The fact is the urban areas and intellectuals don’t like the current regime in Iran but the day to day folk like it. The intellectuals can’t get past the Islam or at least the clerics version of Islam. No one is going to say they are anti-Islamic so the clerics will always win by appealing to that.

Look at North Korea, no one outside can interfere (except China who won’t) so it just goes and goes. Look at Cuba, no one wants to interfere, because there’s no profit in doing so. It’s a mess. If you went in and brought democracy it’d cost billions and billions just to bring it up to date and you’d get very little, if any return.

I’m curious as to what exactly is “a mess” in Cuba?

Feel free to compare to Haiti or the Dominican Republic.

I am not sure what the end-game will be, but I can’t help but think that Ali Montazeri’s death is incredibly significant.

As I understand it he was one of the front-runners to be Ayatollah, though I guess he was really old. One of the last remnants of the Revolutionary Generation. What will a post-Revolutionary Ayatollah look like? That’s the real question. We sort of tend to look at this in a very unsophisticated way, thinking, ‘All Ayatollahs are the same.’, which I think is born either from anti-religious sentiment generally, or anti-Islamic sentiment more specifically.

The end-game will be Iran becoming much like Western states that have some sort of quasi-religious traditional hierarchy. Not unlike the Pope or the Queen of England where their religious titular place represents some kind of real power, but not the power to make policy directly. Some kind of religious Democracy is likely to be what will come out of Iran.

The old guard cannot hold onto power forever, they’re old and dying.

There’s always the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

That is exactly the opposite of the status quo, because of these marches for the first time the Iranian Revolution can’t legitimately claim a mandate from the people.

The lifespan of oppressive regimes are historically getting shorter and shorter.

This one’s been around for quite a while, but we’re reaching a point where pretty much no one who was actually involved in the revolution will be alive. Khameini may live for another 20 years. I don’t know what you’re basing this notion that the lifespan of oppressive regimes gets shorter every year. This one is 30 years along. Saddam was in power for quite a while. Castro held on for an impressive half-century. The North Korean regime survived a changeover of the generations.

Tell that to the North Koreans.

Mandates are all well and good, it’s just how long can a government last with this kind of pressure, and more importantly, how long can the opposition keep it up?

Yeah I know what you mean, I always got a kinda Cromwellian feeling from the Iranians government everytime I read about it. So I was always used to parallel it with that, I just wonder how the protests against them will work out in the end.

It’s interesting you mention Cromwell because while it’s an imperfect analogy I can see parallels between the recent history of Iran and the saga of the English Civil War/ Commonwealth/ Protectorate/ Restoration. First, there was the overthrow of a monarchy by a combination populist/theocratic movement. The country is then governed by parlimentary system dominated by religious ideology. If the pattern holds, the next step is that the military plays an increasingly important role in political affairs, as both the guaranteer of civil order and protection against external invasion.

So one possibility is this: Iran doesn’t quite become a military dictatorship, but the military becomes the only force capable of maintaining civil order in Iran. It develops nuclear weapons to prevent overt invasion by American led forces but in turn this heightens tensions with Israel and other powers in the Middle East. A senior figure in the Iranian military establishment is granted extraordinary powers; he maintains the fiction of serving a parlliment who’s authority he largely controls (think Caesar Augustus). The “Protectorate” lasts as long as he does. If he successfully hands over power to a successor, you get a replay of the early Roman Empire. If the country destablizes again, a popular figurehead oversees the restoration of Parlimentary authority, something like Spain after Franco.

Are you sure?

Romanian revolution.

People Power Revolution (Philippines).

If the Iranian system of government survived the Iran-Iraq war intact, particularly after the inept military human wave tactics early on, it seems a good bet that the current unrest wouldn’t substantially alter the system either. Short of an actual clerical split, which is what seemed to be happening in the aftermath of the disputed election, it seems the ruling establishment is pretty protected from domestic unrest or international pressure.


Orange Revolution (Ukraine): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Revolution

Rose Revolution (Georgia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Revolution

One of my most valued possessions is an orange armband from Kiev. :slight_smile:

I think the essential question, as put by a commenter on BoingBoing, is this: How far is the regime willing to go?

A regime that’s willing to use however much violence as is required can usually put down popular protests and calls for reform - look at China, for example. If you’re willing to order your troops to fire on unarmed protestors, and keep firing, and those troops will obey those orders - eventually, you have no more protests. On the other hand, if you aren’t willing to use overwhelmingly brutal force, repeatedly (or your troops aren’t willing to), then you lose.

It seems like many of the Iranian police may not be willing to engage in the brutality required to maintain the regime. There are reports that some are refusing to arrest or assult protestors, and are just walking away. If enough of them do that, then we can expect a lot more protests - it’ll be shown to be safe.

Interesting question: What would the policies of a democratic Iran be like? Would it be more, or less, amenable to American interests?

This. The interesting thing about the Islamic Republic of Iran is that, in a lot of ways, the “Republic” bit has historically been taken pretty seriously. Sure, the clerics vet all the candidates for office, and the Ayatollah has ultimate authority - but within those constraints, the Iranians are used to having actual, competitive elections in which their votes count. There have been conservative Iranian Presidents elected, and reform-minded ones - and they got into office through elections which, within the limits of the Iranian system, were conducted fairly.

Not so the last election. It was pretty blatantly stolen, and not in the American “in a very tight race, the Supreme Court made a bad call” Election 2000 sense. This wasn’t nearly as close an election - most of the polling predicted Ahmadinajad’s defeat, and his victory appears to have been the result of outright fraud. One could be a genuine, sincere believer in the ideals of the Iranian Revolution, and still look at the last six months and be appalled. And many have been!

Are you sure about this? Polls prior to the election appear to have shown a 2:1 lead for Ahmadinejad. For example: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/14/AR2009061401757.html

It’s not immediately obvious to me that it was stolen.

Just because it survived the Iraq Iran war doesn’t mean it cannot be brought down by domestic pressure. It’s one thing when someone invades your country, quite another when the very people who are supposed to be leading you legitimately steal an election.

Perhaps “obvious” would be too strong a word - but a lot of very serious political scientists think it was. See: http://www.pollster.com/blogs/roundup_analyses_of_fraud_in_i.php