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article imageOp-Ed: Rioting is not the way to bring change in Ahmadinejad's Iran

By Chris Stewart     Jun 15, 2009 in Politics
If protesters want to show that they are serious about a new Iran, they need to gain credibility from Ahmadinejad and accept the results of the recent election.
Hossein Mousavi was a favorite in Iran's recent presidential election, both within Iran and among the international community. Here is a country that needs change, as any casual observer can see; but even more crucially, it is a country that wants change.
Some estimates postulate that citizens under 30 years of age make up 60 percent of Iran's population. This means that a flat-out majority of individuals in Iran are younger and thus more likely to be progressive when it comes to social and political issues.
This majority does not have geo-political turmoil from the 1970's and 1980's ingrained in their mind like their parents' generation does. They do not bare the same innate sense of distrust of the west and America who participated in an Iranian coup, and placed what older Iranians see as a puppet leader in power, decades ago.
Neither do these youth necessarily feel such allegiance for Iran's "supreme leader" Ali Khamenei, who took power in Iran after the 1979 revolution.
Now we cannot generalize about Iran's youth; many of whom are no doubt as conservative as Ahmadinejad and his cohorts. But the world has seen in recent days and weeks an astonishing amount of activism from youth and women and other traditionally silent voices in Iran. Because it was the weeks and days leading up to elections, their fiery protests, demonstrations, and jubilations were allowed to occur unchecked; as Ahmadinejad did not dare shut them down and look bad to supporters.
And this group of change-seekers had their candidate. Hossein Mousavi. Comparatively progressive, Mousavi promised to bring change and open Iran up to the world so they would no longer be seen as backwards or a threat, but rather as a major multilateral player in the new Obama-age order.
Unfortunately for his supporters, Mousavi appears to have lost the election. So what step has he taken? He has rallied his supporters by the thousands and tens-of-thousands and led them in riots.
What possible constructive results could this lead to? With a president (Ahmadinejad) who bares all of the traits of a dangerous, paranoid despot; why rattle his cage? It will only lead to a crack-down twice as swift and savage as has been seen. Ahmadinejad proved he does not care about the world or the west's image of him. He will lead his country as it sees fit, whether calling for Israel's obliteration, or putting down riots of his former political opponent.
To make change at this point, rioters and Mousavi should seek a calmer path. They need to settle down, make peace, and try to get Ahmadinejad to see the light. Convince him of his urgent need to hear his people out. This can't be done by threatening him. It can only be done by appealing to his pragmatism and rationality. Even his ego and fear can be used; but again, not in this manner.
Iran needs to make a shift. They are a key global player, a freshly-labeled member of the Bush-era "Axis of Evil". They are a possible nuclear player. Ahmadinejad is not so old that he is lost to his delusions, like Kim Jong Il. Neither is he entirely unreasonable- his speeches on American and international soil show that he knows how to at least pretend to play nice. So there is hope. But fuel his tendency towards indrawn paranoid convictions and that hope could be lost.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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