July 29, 2011
Roozbeh Mirebrahimi is a well-known Iranian journalist. He worked for several reformist newspapers in Iran, leading to his arrest in 2004. His last job, before fleeing in 2006, was at the Etemad-e Melli newspaper. Mirebrahimi currently resides in New York and is the Editor-in-Chief at Iran Dar Jahan magazine. Iran’s 9th parliamentary election is scheduled for March 2, 2012. It will be the first election since the disputed presidential election of 2009. CyberDissidents.org interviewed Mirebrahimi about the current Iranian political situation.
What is the Green Movement’s latest status?
Well, the truth is, all the notable figures of the Green Movement are in prison. The government shut down all the political parties and groups that made up the political body of the Green Movement. Reformist newspapers have been shut down and only a couple of them reopened, like Etemad, Ruzegar, and Sharqh; but given all the limitations, they can’t do much. Additionally, leaders of the Green Movement [Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hussein Musavi] are under house arrest. So, in fact, the Green Movement isn’t in a situation to do much or to be able to freely participate in the upcoming election.
Why should the Green Movement have even considered participating in the election? What guarantees that elections won’t be rigged again?
Well, elections influence political and social life enormously, but the movement can look at it with two views. One, elections can be a tool for entering a body of power in Iran, like parliament; and two, it is an opportunity to rise again in the public view. Of course, there are many opinions about this in Iran. Some reformists prefer the first view and believe they should participate in elections; they wish to become at least a minority in parliament. But I think those people are few. The rest of the reformists believe that they should use the elections to get back into the political spotlight.Based on what the Green Movement’s leaders think, I don’t think that they will participate in the upcoming election – unless the Islamic Republic decides to make a major change in its political system and gains political parties’ trust. But I do think the Green Movement will use the upcoming election as an opportunity to rise again and be active in society. If they can rise and get a large following again, they can bring change.
Brief us on who has the power in Iran now.
At the end of this year [Persian Calendar] Iranians expect an election. It’s the 9th term parliament election. Thus, it will be a very important year news-wise, and equality of power will be fractured.At least two aspects of this upcoming election are worthy of attention. One, this election is the first one after the disputed presidential election of 2009 and its violent aftermath. Two, it is coming at a time when disagreements between the leaders of Iran are rising, particularly between Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president.
Actually, that was my next question. What do you think of this disagreement?
Disagreements and diverse opinions have always taken place in the Islamic Republic of Iran, even during the Iran-Iraq war. Usually, while a country is undergoing war, unity rises; but even war didn’t unite Iranian politicians for long. Even among the conservatives there have been problems and disagreements, and the highest pitch of it was on the presidential election in Iran in 2005 where at least three candidates from the conservatives were running in the election, if you don’t count Hashemi Rafsanjani (an ex-president) as a conservative candidate.
What we are witnessing today is an escalation of the same disagreement. Why is it occurring now?
It’s the result of the violent aftermath of the last election. In the midst of crisis, different branches of conservatives found themselves with different interests and went after their own interests, which caused a new crisis of power within the Islamic Republic. The problem was exacerbated because the game of earning power has become more serious. Since many of the Green Movement’s figures are in prison and the other reformists are under pressure, the field is ripe for conservatives to compete.
Keep in mind that when I say they are fighting for power, I don’t mean only the prestige that comes with the position. They wish to dominate the income resources, oil, and intelligence services.
If you look at what Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have been fighting over, you can find evidence of this. They recently fought over the Intelligence Service minister’s dismissal, which the supreme leader was against. He then permitted the revolutionary guard to arrest Ahmadinejad’s ally. Ahmadinejad, in turn, leaked news about the revolutionary guard’s private jetties for oil smuggling. Then, the supreme leader started talking about “sedition” in order to gain unity, again.
So, what will happen?
I don’t actually know but I think it’s better for the reformists and Green Movement leaders step aside and watch the conservatives burn each other down. After Ahmadinejad called people ‘dust and dirt,’ he never again mentioned the Green Movement and sedition. I think he’s going to spar with Khamenei and put him in a difficult position.