Home > News > Things to Watch in Iran: Tuesday Edition
137 views 4 min 0 Comment

Things to Watch in Iran: Tuesday Edition

- June 16, 2009

Despite facing some significantly high hurdles, which I have written about “here”:http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=6b4dc2b1-6ed2-4544-9095-e59dcf3c4dc0, supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi are continuing to take to the streets and apparently to exert real pressure on the Iranian regime. In a somewhat stunning development, the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has endorsed a partial recount of the vote, although Mousavi has apparently rejected the offer of a recount, instead “demanding a revote”:http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/06/16/iran.elections.protests/index.html. As developments proceed in the next few days, I would keep a close eye on the following:

1) Will the planned recount go ahead, and or will Mousavi succeed in forcing a revote? While the latter still seems very unlikely, it would be an extremely significant development, demonstrating that the position of Khamenei is much weaker than we thought only a few days ago.

2) Will the security forces in Iran move beyond what they are doing now – basically low levels of violence and apparently detaining opposition leaders – and unleash a more concentrated show of force (e.g., something in the spirit of what happened in Tiananmen Square or Andijan, Uzbekistan)?

3) Will the Iranian authorities take further steps to shut down technological means of communication being utilized by the opposition, such as text messaging and Twitter?

4) Can the opposition continue to deliver large numbers of people into the streets as the protests head towards a second week? One of the truly fascinating things about the Orange Revolution in Ukraine was the sheer number of days that people continued to protest, even in the dead of winter. It will be very informative to watch if the protests in Iran have similar staying power, although of course this likely to be in part a function of the previous two points.

All of these points are informed by my view of thinking about protests following electoral fraud in terms of the individual protester, trying to ask when protesters will believe it is in their interest to take to the streets and when they will not. I have written about this in great detail in _Perspectives on Politics_ (“ungated”:http://homepages.nyu.edu/~jat7/POP_5_3_Tucker.pdf).

On a closely related topic, John Rood has responded to my query regarding “Just What is Iran?”:https://themonkeycage.org/2009/06/just_what_is_iran_1.html by writing:

bq. Thanks for your piece via The Monkey Cage on Iran as “competitive authoritarian” regime. I thought the analysis could go a step forward by subdividing into what I’ve called “strong” and “weak” competitive authoritarian regimes,. The distinction is that in a weak regime, the supreme authority is occasionally compelled to accept election results with which it disagrees in order to maintain their power. (A strong regime is sufficiently powerful that it can invalidate election results at its discretion.) You mentioned that Khatami’s election was one example; the situation on the ground now suggests that there is a similar inflection point re: reviewing last week’s results.

John has more on this topic in a blog post at “The Public Philosopher”:http://www.thepublicphilosopher.com/2009/06/16/is-iran-a-weak-competitive-authoritarian-regime/.