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Jusqu’à présent, que peut-on comprendre des manifestations en Iran ?

Quelques éléments d’analyse en date du 1er janvier par Sina Badiei, un camarade iranien.

So far what can be understood from the demonstrations in Iran:

1- It seems that they began as a political ploy by the conservatives (the faction of the State close to the Supreme leader and the Army) in order to talk up the economical woes of the people, in order to blame them on the incumbent president who is from the conservative-liberal wing of the reformists (who are mostly liberal both economically and politically). It seems that the ploy backfired in that many others joined the demonstrations turning them into ones against the entire political establishment.

2- So far, the major slogans heard are the following ones: Independence, Freedom, the Iranian Republic (as a critical remake of the major slogan of the 1979 revolution which was Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic); Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life for Iran; The masses have to beg whereas the Supreme leader rules divinely; Other slogans against the main leaders of the country but also against the Iranian interventions in the region; Sporadic slogans in favor of the penultimate King of Iran, Reza Shah (King of Iran from 1925 until 1941), the one who is largely credited with having forged the modern Iranian State, and with having modernized the country before being forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran and being replaced by his son.

3- Démonstrations began in Mashhad, the second largest city and one of the most conservative cities in the country, they then spread to other cities. In Tehran, the capital, they have so far been rather effeminate, limited mostly to areas around the University of Tehran and having a more manifest political side to them, involving mostly the students of different universities in the neighborhood. The fact that they have been happening in very many cities, even in small towns, is the biggest contrast with those demonstrations that happened in 2009 which were mostly limited to Tehran and other big cities. Though the number of people demonstrating is much lower that those in 2009. They also have a much bigger economical undertone whereas those in 2009 where more political.

4- Conservatives have been trying to say that the demonstrations were and are mostly about the economical shortcomings of the incumbent government, and that a few people here and there affiliated to foreign governments have been trying to turn them into ones against the establishment. The reformists are totally taken by surprise, they first argued that the demonstrations were a ploy by conservatives that then slipped out of their hands. Now they are more measured in their analysis but they have no idea whatsoever. The US, the Israeli and the Saudi States have emphasized only those slogans that were directed towards the totality of the establishment, especially those criticizing its regional interventions and those rare slogans proclaiming a return to the pre-revolutionary monarchic regime.

5- The Revolution of 1979 failed in thinking and creating much of its potential and its promises, but it did realize one thing, it created undoubtedly the only independent State apparatus in the Middle East, the only State whose internal politics, as bad as it might be, is not overdetermined by the US, Israel, or Russia. This gain, very significant, nonetheless makes it ridiculous to overemphasize the role of foreign States in the events that happen within Iran. Today’s Iran is an independent State, it has a political establishment that boasts having the capacity to oppose the schemes of the US in other countries in the region. If in such a country there are people who nonetheless accept to become the agents of foreign States it is mostly the fault of the establishment. It is the establishment that has to explain what the hell has it been doing in the past four decades that there are people in Iran who today may accept to become agents of the criminal US, Israeli or Saudian States, or why there should exist people so desperate as to desire a return to the stone age of Pahlavi Monarchy. It is the establishment’s fault that a revolution that could have become a cause of justice in the entire region has so failed in its internal political economy that there are people who are willing to chant deplorable slogans. Therefore, instead of citing the presence of foreign hands in these demonstrations, of talking up the presence of demonstrators who don’t hesitate to work for these foreign States, the establishment should be ashamed of itself for having created a country in which there are people who don’t hesitate to work for the three aforementioned criminal States.

6- These demonstrations will very likely get repressed, and rather soon I’d say, but their biggest achievement is their having laid bare the intellectual bankruptcy of the reformists within Iran. When in 2013 people voted for Rouhani, the actual president, whom they all knew was the most conservative and neoliberal element among reformists, they knew that they had no other choice, cause the establishment had blocked all the other major reformists from running. They (and I myself) still voted for him because at the time the danger of war coming from the US and Israel seemed a much bigger threat. We hoped, still, that Rouhani would move more and more towards the more liberal and leftwing elements within the Reformist movement. The fact is that since then the opposite has happened, that is instead of Rouhani moving more to the left, the other reformists have moved so much to the right that there is hardly any distinction between them and Rouhani. For the dynamic Reform movement that began in 1997, its current situation is the saddest of all possible finales. These demonstrations might be its last chance to stay pertinent and to wake up.

7- The final point regarding the anti-islamic, sometimes anti-Arab slogans. These slogans are hateful and one should condemn them mercilessly. Yet a number of points to bear in mind: the post-revolutionary Iranian State is a vehemently pro-Arab State, all the historical figures who are venerated in the contemporary Iran are Arabs, from the Prophet Mohammad to others. Just after the revolution of 1979 there were even attempts to change the language of the country to Arabic, but it failed. I remember a couple of years ago when I was back in Iran there was a prominent cleric talking on the national TV about the founding text of modern Persian language, that is Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (Book of Kings). He was saying that if Ferdowsi had not written this « shitty » text (which happens to be one of the absolute masterpieces of epic poesy), we would have spoken, today and naturally, the language of Quran! Who knows any other country where a very prominent figure of the State would speak in such terms towards the most precious text of the country’s language? The fact is that the Islamic Republics of Iran, even if ruthlessly advocating a religious politics based on Shiite Islam in Iran and in the region, has been, in terms of ethnic identities, the most non-identitarian State in the world. The State openly despises and pours scorn on Iran’s pre-Islamics past, so much so that there are unique historical sites dating from thousands of years ago in Iran which are abandoned here and there in Iran with no one taking care of them. The actual Supreme Leader of Iran is from the Azari (Turkic) ethnicity. And even the discriminations against the Kurds and Baluchs of Iran are related to the fact of these two ethnicities being Sunnite. A Shiite Kurd or Baluch in contemporary Iran would not fare worse than other Iranians. If we add to this the fact that Saddam Hussain attacked Iran on an openly pan-Arab agenda, a war that caused the death of hundreds of thousands of Iranians, a war entirely supported by the majority of the Arab States (the Syrian State being one of the few exceptions), we can get a better picture of why we are witnessing such despicable anti-Arab sentiments in Iran. I hope that such sentiments disappear, but I’m sure that such sentiments do not express an entrenched animosity towards Arabs. They are rather misguided and clueless reactions towards an exaggerated politics of the Iranian State. To finish, if one thing is worthwhile about Iran’s pre-Islamic past, especially its most highly cherished representative, the time of Cyrus, the founder of the Achaemenid empire, it is its distinctive multiculturalism, the fact that the State, for a period, stopped being an ethnic State (as it used to be the norm until then everywhere), and it respected the cultural differences of different ethnicities. Those misguided assholes who chant slogans against other ethnicities in Iran and elsewhere all by referring themselves to Cyrus, they should know that by doing so they are depriving Iran’s history of one of its most significant contributions to the human history, that is its having created, apparently for the first time, a non-ethnical State, so shame on you too!

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