The Mideast and Abroad
- Published on Friday, 30 March 2012 17:24
While eyes are on the Iranian people to storm up in an uprising similar to the Arab Spring, Iran is hibernating in a Persian winter. Yes, it’s true, the sleepy nation talks in its sleep (that is the ongoing protests of the highly educated young Iranians on Facebook, Twitter and blogs) but, there isn’t going to be a Persian Spring any time soon.
Iranians need a leader to walk them through a major change. The leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, which led to the 1979 revolution, has left that mark imprinted on the Iranian psyche. For example, one of the reasons for the failure of the green movement in 2009 was the lack of leadership. Even though the first few weeks of the uprising seemed impressively organized and even hopeful, when the presidential candidates Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mahdi Karoubi were put under house arrest, and communication became impossible, the protests began to deteriorate and eventually died down.
Yet, today, with a discerning political divide both inside and outside of Iran, no one who could fit the profile of a charismatic leader exists.
So, please do not wake Iran up.
The Syria “fear factor” is another reason that Iran cannot afford to awake for an uprising. If the brutal crack-down of the Iranian protesters during the 2009 presidential election and the notorious trials of those arrested in the following year were not enough to alarm and frighten the Iranians, the current situation in Syria surely is. The fact that Tehran is assisting the Syrian regime in blocking and monitoring protesters' use of the Internet, cellphones and text-messaging as well as providing equipment to suppress the protesters, puts off any thought of uprising in the minds of scared Iranians.
However, a troubling economy more than any fear factor or lack of leadership has the power to keep Iranians off the streets. Several failed attempts by Ahmadinejad’s administration to fix Iran’s high inflation and unemployment, as well as the US and EU sanctions on Iran’s oil and the central bank, are decreasing the value of Riyal while increasing the price of goods and foods on daily basis.
Now, one might say, hunger and the rapidly growing gap between the upper and the lower classes could be a great reason to revolt. But, Iranians, simply, do not revolt with empty stomachs. It seems the experiences of a revolution, an eight-year war and 33 years of a undemocratic government have been forcing Iranians into isolation rather than unifying them. Just a stroll down the major shopping centers is enough to prove how despite the economical downturn, “shopping therapy” or “window-shopping therapy” based on what one can afford is the current way of grappling with the unhappy situation in Iran.
Iranians are in a complex love-hate relationship with their government. There are aspects of the government that Iranians praise. The nuclear issue for example, is a matter of right for the majority of Iranians. At this times of constant criticism and threat on Iran’s nuclear program, a government which stands up for this national right is much favored (despite lack of democracy and weak economical polices.) Religion is another factor making this relationship complicated. Iranians are certainly highly religious people and despite the deep frustration in the Islamic Republic government, it is still a matter of religious ethics to rise against a legitimate Shia government which is “god’s representative” on earth.
Above all, Iranians greatest obstacle to uprising is their struggle with their identity: An Identity crisis caused by forced religion, forced Islamic identity and even forced public appearance for the past three decades. For Instance, an alarming sexual revolution among the young generation of Iranians has been signaling the need for finding an authentic and self-made identity which comes before demanding democracy.
Isn’t it better to let Iran sleep for now? Iranians will rise up when it’s the time and currently no threats of war, pressure of sanctions, or comparison to Middle Eastern uprisings could mobilize these highly depressed, oppressed and confused people.By Parisa Saranj, Aslan Media Columnist