Sunday, February 26, 2006

Iran: Opportunities and Dangers

I recently came across this very lucid analysis of recent events in Tehran by Nasrin Alavi on

Headlines scream of a global crisis and a new era where cold-war rivalry is replaced by the clash of civilisations. Protests against the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed rage across the Muslim world. News items link speculations about Iran’s attempts to build a nuclear arsenal with pictures of vicious demonstrators throwing petrol-bombs and stones at the Danish embassy.

Ordinary Iranian Muslims may well be dismayed by images they view as racist. But the 12 million citizens of their capital, Tehran, are far from alight with rage. Most do not support violent attacks on European diplomatic missions and have stayed away from the demonstrations. Iranians in any case have no real freedom of assembly; only a week earlier, hundreds of Tehran bus workers were imprisoned in an effort to crush their strike. So an attack by a 400-strong crowd whose members injure police officers and burn a car at the embassy compound cannot be seen as a spontaneous protest, but is rather a foreign-policy directive from a faction trying to isolate Iran internationally for its own ends. ...

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