Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Possible outcomes in Iran 

From the Economist:

Several outcomes are possible in the short term: the reformists’ quiet capitulation to the conservatives’ relentless pressure; or a student-led counter-revolution, which is either repressed harshly by the hardliners, or which succeeds in overthrowing the theocracy; or, indeed, Ayatollah Khamenei may, at the last minute, defuse the crisis by ordering the Council of Guardians to overturn the bans on reformist candidates. On Wednesday, there were signs that this might be about to happen: government officials said Ayatollah Khamenei had asked the Guardians to review their decisions a second time; and they predicted that a compromise solution would be reached shortly. But whatever happens now, it will not banish altogether the prospect of Iran’s next revolution. The pressure for change should, sooner or later, prove irresistible.
If the review of candidates results in a large number being reinstated, I'll be surprised. But whatever happens, one side will have to blink eventually, or else the student-led counter-revolution scenario will become quite likely. The ball is in the hardliners' court, and you can bet their decisions will be based on an analysis of which course of action will help them retain as much power as possible. I have said before, and I still believe, that any uprising would be dealt with harshly and crushed swiftly. The military and the police are the wild card, and nobody is saying anything about them in the context of the current crisis. If things get serious enough for the military to step into the fray, the side they join will be the winner.
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