vendredi, avril 21, 2006

A window of opportunity in Iran

COLUMN: A window of opportunity in Iran
(Comtex Energy Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)

PULLMAN, Wash., Apr 19, 2006 (Daily Evergreen, U-WIRE via COMTEX) --

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced April 11 Iran has finally reached a milestone in its ambition for nuclear energy by enriching uranium for the first time. Organizations such as the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency have been trying to subvert Iran's ambitions for nuclear power since it was announced.

It seems odd that after two military campaigns in the Middle East, the United States has discredited itself and drained its resources so much, that it cannot engage in a successful covert operation against this credible threat without aid of international support ignored in recent years.

Iran is an intricate and complex situation. According to an article written by the Center of Contemporary Conflict, a research group that studies national security issues sponsored by the Naval Postgraduate School, Iran is a country of extreme political dissatisfaction, yet religious fundamentalism and authoritarianism still reigns supreme.

According to a September 2002 article published by the group, 65 percent of the country is younger than 25, with 3.5 of 19 million unemployed and 80 percent of those unemployed younger than 30. The article further adds, "In recent years the phenomenon of skilled unemployment has become endemic, as increasing numbers of college and university graduates have joined the ranks of the unemployed." As a result, the majority of Iranians have become dissatisfied with their government, economy, and lack of freedoms. Western democracy would, in all reality, be a breath of fresh air for the people.

If this is the case, then why did an ultra-conservative president getelected in June 2005?

Michael McFaul, a professor of political science and director of the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University, wrote a piece in the Journal of Democracy regarding the peculiar Iranian election.

"Khatami [Iran's previous president, a progressive and reformist] rode a huge wave of popular discontent, yet could not or would not turn it into a sustained movement for basic change."

Khatami and the reformist majority tried to work within the walls of a broken system, but instead were crushed, which "left him and his fellow intra-regime reformists scapegoats for all of Iran's ills."

McFaul concludes, "Ahmadinejad's victory can only be understood against the backdrop of nearly a decade of unmet expectations held by Iranians hoping for change."

Ahmadinejad is encapsulating his political platform with what the people want, "basic change," with his own brand of Islamic fundamentalism. Therefore promises of creating a nuclear program benefits him and his fanatic fundamentalist party on many levels.

McFaul attributes a key part of the Iranian government's brittle hold on Iran to, "the peculiar structure of an economy dominated by oil exports." Not only is Ahmadinejad's party able to buy or kill their opposition, they use "oil income in lieu of tax revenue, giving enterprises and citizens less leverage to demand that the state serve their interests." However, "to start real economic reform, Iran's leaders will have to face up to the tasks of restructuring the oil industry."

Therefore, a legitimate claim can be deduced that the Iranian government's nuclear program is one of civil progression. Ahmadinejad's intentions may not necessarily be for his people, but more to coerce his citizenry into believing major economic reform is being implemented by popular demand, while creating a separation between the oil industry and government, and fortifying the Islamic fundamentalist power base.

To believe Ahmadinejad would stop at only accumulating nuclear energy is a false notion. Desperate people do desperate things, and there is no doubt that he is reaching beyond his Iranian constituency and promoting himself as the voice of dissatisfaction of the Muslim people by ranting Friday for the destruction of Israel.

McFaul suggests, "The essence of political struggle in Iran today is the tension between an urban, educated, and comparatively wealthy society that is ready for democracy."

The United States needs to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the dissent Iranian people have for their government, as well as the international community waking up and allying itself for squashing Iran's nuclear program while liberating Iran.

Not only will a potential threat be curtailed, but finally, a legitimate democratic government may rise out of the Middle East mess.

Source : Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC)

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