ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Tentation
by Maurice Ulrich
Translated Friday 1 January 2010, by Henry Crapoand reviewed by
"We shall take back Iran."
That was one of the watchwords of Sunday’s and Monday’s demonstrators. A new trial of strength is underway in the streets of Tehran and many provincial cities, a contest of which no one can know the outcome. Repression is violent. Eight dead officially, hundreds wounded. Arrests of unknowns, but also of those close to the leaders of the opposition: Mohammad Khatami and Mir Hussein Moussavi, whose own nephew was killed and whose body has disappeared.
"We shall take back Iran." The phrase undoubtedly goes beyond the apparently widespread feeling that, last June, President Ahmadinejad stole his victory, provoking the enormous demonstrations that followed. Nothing has been settled, and the regime’s incumbents, who hoped to win through fear and weariness, may assess that their calculations were unavailing. The Iranian street does not shut up. But is it only about the elections? Undoubtedly not. For Iran is a big country, rich with a history of which every one of today’s descendants of great Persia may be proud. Iran is also a modern country; youth and women there are ever more educated and cultivated. They count for much, in their desire for modernity, the exact opposite of the obscurantism incarnated by Ahmadinejad, who represents one of the most reactionary minority sects of Islam, the Hojjatieh. The heart of their doctrine involves the teaching that on the day of the Apocalypse, the hidden imam will return to earth, hand in hand with Christ. It’s not, we will agree, a scheme particularly favorable to democracy in the present.
However, what’s going on in Iran is probably not a solely ideological matter, religious or not. In spite of the forgotten promises of its president, the country is subject to corporatism and the corruption of the big groups and of those who are called the great bazaar merchants, who, let us mention in passing, know perfectly well how to come to agreements with big foreign corporate groups, such as the French car manufacturers, for example. The reciprocal, of course, is just as true. Capital, in fact, does not trouble itself too much about Western governments’ declared scruples and squawking. That is to say, that over several years, the Iranian people as a whole has seen its situation deteriorate, contrary to the expectations of its new middle classes. The real estate bubble exploded there also. Inflation went from 25 percent in 2008 to 60 percent in the first half of 2009; salaries are not paid in a number of companies and others are effecting mass layoffs.
"We shall take back Iran." A beautiful expression that certainly testifies to the desire to reappropriate the country and its culture, to retake control over its fate. Is that really what all those voices raised in the West expect? Indignation in the face of repression is legitimate, as is the demand for democratic and peaceful outcomes to the crisis underway. They must not be a mask for taking advantage in the name of geostrategic aims. To destabilize Iran, to create the conditions for possible interference would be a scandalous and criminal instrumentalization of the Iranian street and of the expectations of a whole segment of the Iranian people. It would be a very worrying temptation for the West.