Tehran

Washington Diarist
July 15, 2009

On a rainy day in 1993, I sat with my parents at the opening ceremonies of the Holocaust Museum and heard President Clinton, who was doing nothing to stop the genocide in Bosnia, suggest that the genocide in Bosnia must be stopped, because never again can we allow genocide to occur. My mother laconically whispered that "he talks about Bosnia as if he is somebody else." I was reminded of her distinction between the president and the rest of us when I read a piece on this magazine's website by my haver Michael Walzer, who made the same distinction but for the opposite end.

Dawn of the Revolt
July 15, 2009

May 23rd: Tehran's Azadi Indoor Stadium, 20 days before the election. The press had difficulty getting in the gates. "All full," the guards kept telling us. And full it was, overflowing in fact, for a Mir Hossein Mousavi campaign rally. Mousavi wasn't even there. Instead, the rally featured former President Mohammad Khatami and Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and the eager crowd numbered more than 20,000. I couldn't make my way to the VIP section, and I didn't want to.

The New Democrats
July 15, 2009

What we are witnessing right now in the streets of Tehran is, first and foremost, a political battle for the future of the Iranian state. But closely linked to this political fight is also an old theological dispute about the nature of Shiism--a dispute that has been roiling Iran for more than a century. Shiism, like most religions, is no stranger to heated schisms. Shia and Sunnis split over the question of whether Muhammad had designated his son-in-law, Ali, as his successor (Shia believed he had).

Persian Puzzlement
July 15, 2009

About ten days after the start of Iran's insurrection, I asked a senior administration official what, if anything, the White House knew about the people behind the demonstrations. His reply: "I think it is fair to say senior administration officials are busily trying to understand how the opposition is generated and where it came from." In other words, there's a lot about the protesters we still don't know. True, Mir Hossein Mousavi and the people directly surrounding him are known quantities in the U.S. intelligence community.

The Bystander
July 15, 2009

In the affairs of states, lessons are often learned too late or too well. Faced with unexpected crises and unwelcome demands for prompt decision-making, governments think by analogy. And they are invariably keen to demonstrate that they have learned from their--or, more conveniently, their predecessors'--mistakes. The last time a Democrat occupied the White House, an inherited humanitarian mission in Somalia turned to disaster in the alleys of Mogadishu.

Can Tiananmen Really Teach Us Anything About Tehran
June 22, 2009

The murder of Neda Agha-Soltan, Robin Wright writes, may have changed everything. For the cycles of mourning in Shiite Islam actually provide a schedule for political combat — a way to generate or revive momentum. Shiite Muslims mourn their dead on the third, seventh and 40th days after a death, and these commemorations are a pivotal part of Iran's rich history.

More On Iran's 'super Friday'
June 18, 2009

Andrew Apostolou is a Senior Program Manager at Freedom House. **Iranian TV, which is state-controlled, is calling for people to attend prayers to demonstrate their support for the regime. Ayatollah Khamenei will lead prayers in Tehran. In West Azerbaijan province, which Musavi feels was stolen from him during the election, Khamenei’s representative will lead prayers.

What We Can Do In Iran
June 16, 2009

Massive cheating or not? A new kind of coup d’etat or not? How do we interpret this strange election whose results were announced by the press affiliated with the secret services and militia--even before the polls were closed? Considering the absence of international observers, considering that the election officials demanded by Ahmadinejad’s rivals were chased from polling places with billy clubs, and considering the climate of terror in which the whole process was steeped, it is hard to come down on one side or the other with much certainty. Nevertheless, three things are quite clear. The fi

Between Idealism And Realism In Iran
June 16, 2009

Peter Scoblic is the executive editor of The New Republic and the author of U.S. vs. Them, which is now out in paperback. Like my colleagues, I am rapt by the sight of the Iranian protests. In fact, listening to NPR's coverage from Tehran this morning, I found myself rapt by the sound of the protests, the kind of roar that only a stadium-sized group of people can produce. It's an inspiring moment in Iranian politics.

Always Illegitimate
June 14, 2009

I'll have more to say about the administration's lackluster response (if one can even call it that) to the ongoing events in Iran, but this sentence from today's New York Times story about Vice President Biden's announcement that the White House will "engage" Iran regardless of how many pro-democracy protestors it kills or ballots it stuffs stuck out at me:  That cautious reaction reflected the combustible scene in Tehran, where riot police officers were cracking down on angry opposition supporters, and the likelihood that the administration would be forced to pursue its diplomatic initiative

Pages