Road to recovery
The challenges for Iran
By David Ramezani
February 18, 2004
First and foremost, Iran is a bio-polar
society. Part of society identifies with the Islamic norms and
standards while the other part of the society prefers the values
and the life style before Islam. Some Iranians take pride on their
pre-Islamic history and it serves as a source of inspiration for
them. These people view the domination of Islam in Iran as a defeat
of their self-determination and the loss of identity.
As a result
the society has been polarized and the country has been struggling
to find its true identity. The polarity of the society has been
demoralizing and at some points it has been very violent. The country
is going through a soul-searching process in order to adopt a way
of life in order to satisfy the both ends of the spectrum.
Life before the 1979-uprising was mainly in favor
of the camp which was promoting the Iranian pre-Islamic heritage.
During the Shah
reign the Iranian pre-Islamic values along with the Western life
style dominated the Iranian culture. This caused the Islamic camp
to be more alienated and to develop a xenophobic attitude toward
the camp with the pre-Islamic identity and the Western values.
Through out the history there always have been rivalry and hostilities
between these two camps. This was one of the reasons for the emergence
of Islamic Revolution on 1979.
Another reason behind the 79-uprising was the impact
of the Cold
War on Iran. Iran had the longest borders in the north with
the former Soviet Union. During the Cold War some
of the Iranian political groups and organizations opposing the
Shah were influenced by the Soviet Communist ideology. These groups
were very instrumental in the collapse of the Iranian Monarchy.
In addition to that, because of the 8-year Iran-Iraq
war, there is a major generation gap between the Old generation
and the new
one. Because of the war the middle generation between the two
is gone. The majority of the Iranians are under 30 years old. This
creates a unique demographic for Iran.
Ever since the Islamic government was born in Iran
this system has been faced with an internal conflict a biggest
of its time. The root causes of this internal conflict have
nature. The Islamic laws and the Islamic governing policies
were formulated 1400 years ago and have not been revised or upgraded
As a result these laws are obsolete and outdated.
The obsolescence of the Islamic laws has caused stagnation in the
stagnation has split the Islamic camp into two groups of
and the reformists. This conflict is the battle between the
and traditionalist verses the new and modernity.
At this stage Islam is where the Christianity was
during the Reformation and at the time when the Protestantism was
Luther of Germany. Islam is in a crucial point of its time.
If it follows the same path as the Christianity and produces
Islamic Protestantism, then it would survive and the Islamic
would get a chance to enjoy a prosperous life otherwise the
violence, repression, poverty and terrorism would continue.
About four years ago the pro-Democracy Student movement
was crushed by the security apparatus of the Islamic Republic.
personnel went to the dormitories and beat up some defenseless
students while they were sleeping during the night, simply
because they were critical of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
This was a turning point in Iran's struggle for Democracy. This
was reminiscence of what happened in the Tiamen Square
in China on June 4, 1989.
The upcoming parliamentary elections in Iran have
taken center stage in Iranian politics. The show down between
and the Reformists has reached its boiling point. The
political situation may not be very different whether the Reformist
takes control of the parliament or the Fundamentalists.
is controlled and monitored by the Guardian Council
which oversees and exercises the veto power over the parliament.
So in either
way the destiny of the parliament is determined by
Guardian council which is a governing body appointed
Supreme Leader. So in either case the hard-liners would
override any bills that do not meet their expectations
Initially the Guardian Council rejected 3,700 people
out of 8,000 who registered to be candidates for the
126 Representatives of the 290-seat parliament resigned
from their post. Later on Guardian Council decided
to approve the candidacy
of 5,450 out of 7,900 total numbers of registered people.
So the Guardian Council reinstated the qualification
The Iranian Islamic parliament does not represent
a legislative body. The Islamic laws are pre-deterministic
and leave no room for any change, modification or
any upgrade. Mohamed
the Islamic prophet has already determined the laws
literally. The Islamic laws can not be challenged
and should be applied accordingly. So there is no need
for a true
legislation. The parliament is nothing but just a
consulting and policy
making entity for the President and his cabinet ministers.
The solution for Iran's social ailment is Democracy.
I believe under democracy this country can restore
in the International community. I believe the presence
in the region would be instrumental in introduction
of concepts such as Democracy, Checks and Balance,
and State, Republicanism, Federalism, Freedom of
Expression and many
other values that we take it for granted in this
The major sources of threats to Iran's national
interest have been the Islamization of the society
influence of the Northern neighboring country
of Russia and its
satellite country of Iraq along the Western borders
during the Cold
Saddam Hussein had territorial claim on the province
of Khuzestan in the South West corner of Iran.
After the revolution
realized an opportunity to make a move toward
Iran while the Iranian military
was in chaos. This war lasted for about 8 years,
which caused killing of about half million
Iranians and tremendous
to the country.
There are so much potential in that part of
the world which needs to be recognized and
constructive and a productive
force. Iran in the past has contributed its
share of Civilization
and it will contribute again once it recovers
from its existing social ailment.
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