Monday, August 16, 2010

Iran: Jon Lee Anderson on the Green Movement, Plus Russia Moves Forward on Bushehr

A couple of updates on Iran:

On May 2, I asked "Will there be large-scale protests/marches in Iran in June, to commemorate last year's election protests? There's been relatively little American media follow-up about what the opposition leaders are doing these days."

There were no large commemorations, at least none that received coverage in the US.  In this week's New Yorker, Jon Lee Anderson explains why: Anderson reports that the Green Movement has been largely stifled by the Ahmadinejad government:
"One Iranian, who asked to remain anonymous for his safety, described the movement's status:
'Despotism works.  That's what this situation shows. The reformist movement is over. The middle classes aren't willing to die en masse, and the regime knows this. It has killed and punished just enough people to send the message of what it is capable of doing.'"
Anderson interviewed Ahmadinejad for the article, and Ahmadinejad argues that Obama has not really followed through on the offer to improve diplomatic relations between the US and Iran. My understanding is that Obama is (1) continuing (or toughening) sanctions and (2) trying to maintain a stance that the US will use military force if Iran goes too far on its nuclear program. 

The thought of the US fighting wars in three countries lined up in a row is really difficult to fathom (talk about looking like empire-builders to the rest of the world), and the Iranian leaders probably realize the odds of American public support for a third war are exceedingly low.


Meanwhile, the other news in Iran this week is that Russia decided to move forward with supplying a nuclear processing facility (in Bushehr, Iran) that could produce the plutonium (or uranium, I'm not sure?) that's necessary to make a nuclear weapon.  Russia argues that it's doing so for economic reasons, and the American media is saying this is a significant setback for the American efforts to stop the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Notwithstanding all the talk of the US/Russia "reset," this development seems to show that Medvedev -- like Putin before him -- is not going to kow-tow to the American agenda.

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