Iran: Many Players, High Stakes

With expected protests on Student’s Day and Iran’s nuclear program back in the news, we review the current political situation in Iran.

Iran is once again in the news.

On Sunday, Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, claimed that the country had successfully developed batches of Yellowcake Uranium, an important step in nuclear weapons manufacturing.  While alarming on its own account, the recent Wikileaks documents have produced evidence that Iran has played a key role in development of infrastructure leading to the creation of a Hezbollah nation-state, including a massive secret telecommunications network.   Evidence is also included in these Wikileaks documents that several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, are so threatened by Iran’s growing hostilities that they would back air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Missing from the news, however, are the civil rights abuses and the stories of oppression that the people of Iran face because they resist the will of their own government.

Tonight, students inside Iran are preparing for Students’ Day, a celebration that commemorates the long history of resistance, led by the young, against oppression in Iran.  Last year, this celebration was co-opted by members of the Green Movement who believed that the June 2009 elections were fraudulent and that the government of Iran had once again become the oppressor of the youth.   It is  unclear how widespread protests will occur, but Dissected News will cover events as they unfold (starting at 3:30 GMT).

It is important, therefore, to understand the players, and the stakes, in Iran’s ongoing political battle.  For the next hours and days, we will be exploring the protests and actions of the Green Movement, and the reactions of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  What we are really covering is the push from Iran’s youth towards freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and engagement with the economies and cultures of the rest of the world.

A year ago, this movement appeared to be at the edge of destabilizing Iran’s government, headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.  Today, that hope has been tempered somewhat, but the threat to the establishment has come from a different direction altogether.  The “principlalists,” led by Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Majlis (Iranian Parliament), have threatened to impeach Ahmadinejad.  These conservatives believe that Ahmadinejad has wasted Iran’s oil wealth through subsidies given to the poor, instead of investing in Iran’s infrastructure and future economic growth.  These men have also been critical of Iran’s militant opposition to the rest of the world, and Ahmadinejad’s handling of last year’s election.  In short, Ahmadinejad is too conservative for the principalists, and the Green Movement has been a kind of catalyst for the chipping away of Ahmadinejad’s power.

Once again, as Iran comes back to the negotiating table to talk about their nuclear weapons program, the fate of the world’s relationship with Iran might very well fall on the backs of the students and activists who are beaten, arrested, and sometimes killed, just for protesting the actions of their government.

I’m not sure what is going to happen tonight, but I am sure that it will be important.  I hope you’ll tune in to watch it happen.

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