November 30, 2002

THEY’RE CALLING IT A SECOND IRANIAN REVOLUTION: Hope it works out better than the first one. But it would pretty much have to. I’m surprised we’re not hearing more about this, but then I’ve been surprised all along:

The fierce dedication to Islam, the Iraq-Iran war, and the 1979 revolution once made Bolooki’s family quintessential supporters of Iran’s conservative clerics. But their desire for reform is indicative of a significant change below the surface of the political battle now playing itself out in Tehran.

“It’s like a volcano coming up, which you can’t see until it blows.” says one Iranian analyst here.

Hardline supporters of the regime vow to bring five million militants onto the streets today, in a climactic show of strength designed to counter 10 days of prodemocracy student protests this month.

More Iranians are choosing sides in an explosive debate that pits Islamic rule – defined by Iran’s unelected conservatives, who have held key levers of power since the Islamic revolution – against popular democracy. . . .

A Western diplomat says that the current regime “is under more pressure than at any time since the revolution. Something has to give,” he says. “Reformers are no longer prepared to compromise. [President Mohamad] Khatami is still regarded as the only one who can peacefully bring about change, and that’s what people really want.”

“If [the system] survives the next year intact, I think it will survive,” says the diplomat, adding that the conservative camp may not grasp the changes afoot. “It’s the same with all dictators – they do not see their own demise.”

Well, I hope to see their demise soon.