Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iran's unrest could have regional impact

The news from Iran is exciting for anyone interested in the progress of democratization. Democracy is unpredictable - and so I don't think anyone really knows what will happen exactly. A cynic might predict that the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will crush the people - and that will be that. Perhaps. But the populace in Iran has showed before that it cannot be disregarded. Ironic that the president, who was a student leader during the 1979 revolution, should now be challenged by a popular uprising against his rule.

A friend of mine in Azerbaijan notes that Mir Hossein Mousavi is ethnically an Azerbaijani Turk, and frequently spoke Azeri during demonstrations. Yet the election results for the city of Tabriz, an ethnically Azeri city, showed Ahmadinejad winning a decisive victory there. Something doesn't add up.

Interesting that the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, both of whom fear democratic aspirations in their own countries, were quick to congratulate Ahmadinejad on his victory. While quantifying the impact of democratization is probably impossible, political scientists have long theorized about the effect of having democratic neighbors. What does it mean for other area strongmen if a popular uprising shakes the political leadership of Iran?


Ani said...

Not only did Medevev and Aliyev congratulate Ahmadinejad, Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia was very quick to do so as well: bit.ly/L4GLs The Armenian government has a very close friendship with Ahmadinejad, so they are happy with the "results" as they stand.

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