Massive Protest in Iran led by Mir Hossein Mousavi
What can we make of the Iranian uprising? On the one hand, it's good to see the youth of Teheran and elsewhere take to the streets in peaceful protests. On the other, will any real change come from all this once the dust settles?
If you haven't been paying attention to the events, and/or haven't watched TV, listened to the radio or surfed the net in the last week, the rundown is as follows:
- Friday, June 12: Iranians hit the polls to vote for four candidates, all of whom have the the Mullahs' seal of approval. The two candidates of note are incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mir Hossein Mousavi, a reformist challenger.
- Saturday, June 13: The Iranian interior ministry releases the election results: 63% of the vote for Ahmadinejad, 34% for Mousavi.
- Sunday, June 14 - Present: All hell breaks loose.
It's really been a site to behold as hundreds of thousands, and perhaps even millions, of Iranians have peacefully protested the election results which, by the way, were most likely fraudulent.
New media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) have played a large role in getting information to and from Iran. The ruling regime has tried their best to impose a media blackout on its citizens, yet the tech savvy Iranians have found ways around the information blockade, setting the Interwebs ablaze with almost constant updates. Many of the updates from inside Iran are video and commentary reporting the brutal and thuggish methods the regime is using to quell the uprising. Dozens have been killed and scores have been injured, yet the protests rage on.
With regards to Israel, as with Iran, the situation remains unclear. If the status quo holds up and Ahmadinejad retains the presidency, nothing changes from the Israeli perspective. His feelings towards Israel are clear:
"Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken. Today the reason for the Zionist regime's existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation."
This cat doesn't mince words, does he?
As challenger to Ahmadinejad, Mousavi portrayed himself as a reform candidate. But if one digs a little deeper, it becomes clear that he was a hard-liner as well. As Iranian Prime Minister in the 1980s, Mousavi was one of the founders of Hezbollah, a terror organization based in Lebanon that you might remember lobbing Katyusha rockets into northern Israel in 2006. Also of note, it was Mousavi who founded Iran's nuclear program in the 1980s; the same nuclear program with which the regime intends to threaten Israel's very existence.
Perhaps Mousavi has abandoned his hard-line views towards the Jewish state, but that remains to be seen. At this point, it seems as if the protests have moved beyond the questionable election results and to the Iranians' general dissatisfaction with the theocratic and oppressive Mullocracy. This is a good sign for Israel, as an overthrown radical Iranian regime that is replaced by a liberal democracy is practically the best-case scenario. Israeli minister for Strategic Affairs, Moshe Yaalon, believes that a revolution will take place, but that the nuclear program will continue:
"It will be impossible to contain the energy there is now, I believe the Iranian regime will have to take this into consideration. While this will have no effect on the nuclear issue, this regime will fall."
Unfortunately, for now, the question of how this will impact Israel goes unanswered. Israel can take heart in the protests, the Iranian youth demonstrating openness towards the West, and the push for Democracy. But until real change occurs, the Jewish state will have to remain vigilant.