Al-Ahram Weekly Online   25 June - 1 July 2009
Issue No. 953
Press review
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Advent of a fake dawn

Doaa El-Bey was impressed by the will to change the status quo in Egypt and Iran

The determination of Iranian protesters to challenge the results of the election did not wane. Instead, they disregarded Iran's Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei's ban on street protests.

Ragab Abu Serreya who predicted that the protests would last wrote that Khamenei could have dealt with the crisis in a more astute way rather than showing clear bias towards Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and indifference to the people. Perhaps he aimed to show the stick to the reformists in the hope of containing the crisis. However, that assumption, according to the writer, indicated that Khamenei did not realise the enormity of the crisis.

Khamenei's Friday speech in which he declared clear support for Ahmadinejad opened the confrontation with the opposition which was asked to accept what the security imposed on them, a second term for Ahmadinejad.

Thus the Iranians who managed to oust the shah three decades ago took to the streets in protest at the election results. However, there is a difference between the two events. Today, there is a division or at least controversy within the ruling regime. Thus, the writer predicted that a political deal could be reached in which the Iranian revolutionary leader would be required to change and transform Iran from a closed state to one that is open and which interacts positively with the region and the world.

Abu Serreya expected that change is inevitable in Iran. "The reformists are supported by open, effective and dynamic parties like men of letters, women, the middle class and the young generation that was born after the Iranian revolution. The present regime relies on poor sectors and the option of closeness but there is no future in either in the age of globalisation whose main features are openness to other countries and peoples, and resolving differences via political and democratic ways," Abu Serreya wrote in the Palestinian independent political daily Al-Ayyam.

Raqqan Al-Majali looked at the positive side in the Iranian protests, that the aftermath of the elections showed that there are relative components of democracy in Iran which reflect a form of multilateralism which represents a framework for some popular movements, liberal and reformist trends and political waves in Iran.

Although the impression is that the supreme guide has full religious authority, the recent events revealed that there are other political powers that have their own programmes and visions and popular trends that are aware of their interests. The events also prompted other institutions like the Experts Council and Council for the Preservation of the Constitution to move. And, as the writer added in the Jordanian independent political daily Addustour, this showed the positive facets of the Iranian democratic experience.

Badr Abdel-Malek wrote that in light of the frustrating results of the election, how can one bet on the victory of parties opposing the ruling conservatives when the elections are held under the supervision of armed militia protected by the authority? He also questioned how one could expect fair and credible elections held without strict international supervision.

"Can the reformists settle the problem only through the media? Can we say that Mujahedi Khalq are the possible options to ballot boxes after the frustrating results of the elections?" asked Abdel-Malek in the United Arab Emirates daily Al-Bayan.

All the previous reformist policies faced one fact: that the Iranian supreme leadership favoured the conservatives. Khamenei extinguished all hope for re-sorting the votes or repeating the elections by his announcement of the victory of Ahmadinejad for a second term as president.

Under the present circumstances in Iran, Abdel-Malek pointed again to the historic question: why Mujahedi Khalq is not considered an option for change in Iran. That is not only a question but a fake hope that is raised in the West after the frustrating results of every election that is not held under international supervision.

Hossam Eitani wrote that Khamenei did all he could to persuade the protesters to accept the results of the Iranian elections. His means included threatening to forcefully put down the protesters, criticising the security forces for aiming at the protesters in Tehran and praising the moderate former president Hashemi Rafsanjani. He put the demonstrators before two options: either accept Ahmadinejad's victory or turn against the Islamic revolution. The two are difficult as they both indicate an end to the political career if not the life of whoever dares to challenge Khamenei.

Thus, Eitani expected that the regime would probably lose more of its supporters among students and academics (who are not many anyway), and possibly enter into confrontation with businessmen especially those who support Rafsanjani.

However, he warned that jumping to conclusions that the Iranian revolutionary regime is about to fall is mere speculation. "Although one cannot say that nothing happened in Tehran during the last 10 days, the political and social balances do not justify saying that the days of the Ayatollah in power are numbered," Eitani wrote in the London-based political daily Al-Hayat.

While the writer ruled out any surprises, he wrote that the present clashes are like the advent of a fake dawn.

Abdel-Rahman Al-Rashed wrote that Mir-Hussein Mousavi is the second man after the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini who led a popular opposition movement and caused an earthquake in Tehran. He managed to confront the authorities in the elections first, then led a campaign against the allegedly rigged elections and finally challenged Khamenei's ban on protests. His charismatic character and steadfastness before the regime increased his popularity and attracted millions of Iranian youth who hated Ahmadinejad and were disappointed in Khatami and other opposition leaders around him.

However, his opposition to Ahmadinejad and Khamenei does not mean that he espouses a rebellious programme or opposes Iranian Islamic thinking. In spite of his moderation, Mousavi is a follower of the Islamic revolution and his thinking does not wander away from that of Ahmadinejad or Khamenei. "He can be regarded as a moderate Islamic liberalist who adopts the thinking of the regime, but hates its leaders," Al-Rashed wrote in the London-based political daily Asharq Al-Awsat.

But, now, his presence whether alive or dead, represents a problem to the regime. His opponents want to tarnish his image or his revolution as a mere British project. If they fail, more followers will join him and they would be like a deluge capable of destroying the authority, Rashed concluded.

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