We Have Not Forgotten Iran
In 2009, Iranians revolted against a dictatorship that had stolen an election... and were brutally repressed. The Egyptian revolution may have a better shot at getting rid of the regime. But its consequences for the rest of the region may be overstated. Ben Cohen explains in his essay, Don't Forget Iran:
Firstly, that revolutions which incubate the impulses of liberal democracy alongside social and religious conservatism are easily subverted. Secondly, that successor regimes can be just as brutal as their predecessors; and as Zimbabwe under Mugabe shows, this phenomenon is not confined to the Middle East alone. Thirdly, that like their predecessors, successor regimes with no democratic legitimacy are similarly driven by the desire to remain in power at any cost.
Which brings me not to Cairo in 2011, but Tehran in 2009. After stealing an election he was widely predicted to lose, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced the wrath of the Iranian people. Using the social media tools that have defined the current wave of Arab protests, as well as a courageous willingness to confront the thuggish Revolutionary Guard, demonstrators flooded the streets of Tehran and other cities. As in Tunisia and Egypt, it quickly became clear that the fate of the regime would be decided by the sustainability of those protests.
As we now know, repression won the day, assisted by a lack of international leverage over the Iranian regime and the churlish reaction, ranging from indifference to hostility, in the surrounding Arab countries, including among opposition forces. "Noble, manly and humane," were the words chosen by Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Mahdi Akif to describe Tehran's leaders in the year of the stolen election.
Since the passing of the country's revolutionary moment, the Iranian regime's grip has become a stranglehold. Always a world leader in the practice of execution, since 2009, the regime has acceleratedthe killing process. In 2010, between 18 and 25 people were executed each month. In the first month of 2011, a staggering 66 people were executed.