Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed, How It Might Succeed


How resilient is the Islamic Republic of Iran? asks analyst Eric Lob. The answer to this question is that the future survival of the Islamic republic is tenuous at best and, like its predecessor, it is likely to succumb to a revolution in the near future if it does not reform, according to Misagh Parsa’s book, Democracy in Iran; Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed:

Politically, the Islamic republic is categorized as an authoritarian, theocratic, repressive, and intransigent state with power increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small clique comprised of the supreme leader, other conservative and hard-line elites, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. With its growing concentration of power and intensified repression and marginalization of reformists, this clique supposedly suffers from a narrowing political and social support base that renders the state susceptible to opposition and revolution. Furthermore, this clique’s arbitrary rule and rampant corruption undermine the rule of law and violate constitutional, citizenship, minority, and human rights, oppressing and antagonizing dissenting elites and citizens alike.

The Green Movement protests that erupted in Iran in 2009 amid allegations of election fraud shook the Islamic Republic to its core, Parsa contends. For the first time in decades, the adoption of serious liberal reforms seemed possible. But the opportunity proved short-lived, leaving Iranian activists and intellectuals to debate whether any path to democracy remained open. RTWT

Parsa’s account is one of the most important books published about the Islamic Republic since its inception, Council on Foreign Relations analyst Ray Takeyh writes in the journal Survival:

The failure of the reform movement did not extinguish the spirit of change. Parsa’s book contains the most complete account of the Green Movement in the English language. The disputed presidential election of 2009 that returned the reactionary Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power led to cries of ‘where is my vote?’ Soon, the protests moved beyond electoral irregularities to calls for regime change. The speed with which the marchers got to that point shocked the leaders of the state, who unleashed a wave of repression reminiscent of the early 1980s. The regime survived, but in the process it lost its legitimacy.

Yet the regime’s loss of legitimacy has had little impact on its repressive capacity, judging by its latest human rights violations.

Today was the last visitation for Alireza Tajiki (right), a young Iranian who, at the age of fifteen, was accused of a crime he denies having committed and sentenced to death, notes the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy:

Today, at the last hour, Alireza Tajiki needs the support of the international community and most importantly, he needs the attention and the intervention of officials at the highest level of the Iranian government. Iran’s President has repeatedly promised Iranians their citizenship rights and Alireza Tajiki is a citizen whose rights have been, and continue to be, violated. It is time for Mr. Rouhani to turn his attention to an urgent and recurrent problem in the country: the absence of the rule of law and the minimum standards of fair trial. Stopping the execution of a child offender and ensuring that he gets a fair retrial would be a good start.

UPDATE 11:40 PM EDT: Alireza Tajiki has been put to death by the Iranian judiciary. ABF looks forward to a future in which the human rights of all Iranians, including children who continue to be sentenced to death and executed like Alireza, are respected.

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