Jeff Weintraub has a nice analysis on the current acts of repression going on in Iran. Jeff points out that while some might mistakenly view this as a reaction to public displeasure, it’s in fact entirely consistent with Ahmadinejad’s platform for a more “principlist” Iran:
It’s increasingly clear that the recent arrests of several Iranian-Americans holding dual citizenship (discussed here & here & here) are part of a wider campaign of intensified political repression by the Iranian regime aimed at crushing internal dissent and, in the process, cutting off Iranians from outside contact and support.
Robin Wright’s story in the Washington Post suggests that this crackdown is partly a response to increasingly widespread and vocal discontent driven by economic distress and other grievances. But it would be misleading to see this campaign as purely reactive. Ahmadinejad and the hard-line tendencies associated with him are no doubt also seizing the opportunity to implement a long-term agenda they intended to pursue from the start–to ‘revitalize’ the theocratic regime by tightening up ideological controls, taking the country back to what they fondly remember as the intensely and monolithically committed early days of the Khomeinist revolution, and closing down the cultural and political openings of the past decade.
Jeff’s of course right, and we certainly shouldn’t accuse Ahmadinejad of being coy on the matter. Upon being elected, the new president declared that “the wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? He has thus far made good on this promise within his own borders, and it has become pretty obvious that the former populist won’t be tolerating upheaval from the populace. This includes arresting college students who supposedly ridicule “hallowed institutions,” arbitrarily arresting women for protesting against gender oppression and detaining Iranian-Americans on the grounds of “espionage.”
It’s really quite laughable when some argue that public protests signal just how open and free Iran is. This is precisely what Ahmadinejad wants, and he never wastes the opportunity to point out that Iranians have “absolute, total freedom.”
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