Saturday, 15 June 2013

A difficult struggle for democracy in the Muslim world

The BBC has just reported that Hassan Rouhani has won the "election" for President of Iran with just over 50% of the vote. Given that Rouhani has ostensibly received the backing of the reformists in Iran this could lead to an illusion that there has been some kind of "thaw" in Iranian politics and perhaps an opportunity to change the the way Iran is governed and subsequently its role in the growing conflicts across the Middle east.

The reality of the situation is actually spelled out by the BBC correspondent  Johnathan Marcus who remind us that:

First it should be stressed that it is not the president but the supreme leader and, beneath him, the upper echelons of the Revolutionary Guard who determine the broad lines of Iran's nuclear policy.
Mr Rouhani's election comes at a difficult and potentially dangerous moment for Iran; its position in the region is being tested like never before with Tehran's support for the embattled Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. This is not necessarily the moment for a substantive change in Iranian policy. Nonetheless even a change in style might offer an opening to the US and key UN Security Council members which would be worth testing for any real sign of flexibility in Tehran.
The election itself of course was far from free. An article on Harry's Place reminds us that:

The candidates on the ballot have been preselected in a politically motivated vetting process that has little purpose other than ensuring the election of a compliant president who will be loyal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The real power will remain with the unelected Islamist elite that has led Iran back into medieval times. How much reform the new President will be able to deliver in a climate of censorship, torture and rape of political opponents remains to be seen.

Meanwhile the protesters in Gezi Park continue their occupation despite the huge pressure being mounted against them by Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The decision to "back down" over the redevelopment seems to be just a cover more more sinister actions by the Government.

According to The Times the authorities are now trying to :

..track down the doctors who had treated protesters and to close media outlets that broadcast images of demonstrators last week.

The Turkish Medical Association (TBB) has refused to co-operate despite being told to "immediately" hand over the names. Given there were over 7,500 people injured across the country during the recent protests that list would be quite large. Combine this with the closure of a TV channel that broadcast almost constant coverage of the events and as part of the general censorship developing, the future for Turkish democracy seems grim.

Solidarity with the protesters in Turkey and a hopefully revived Green movement in Iran should be the priority for all of us concerned with democratic and human rights in these countries.

Meanwhile in Tunisia the harsh treatment of the Femen demonstrators remains a cause for concern. A post on this appears at Andrew Coates website:

You can find out more about Femen at:

No comments:

Post a Comment