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Iran Revolution Revisited

Filed on February 13, 2010

As Iran marks the 31st anniversary of Islamic Revolution, it finds itself at a defining crossroad in its long and eventful history. While the mood in the Islamic republic is euphoric, the country cannot afford to ignore the challenges staring it in the face.

Thanks to the road it took and policies it has pursued after the 1979 Revolution, it finds itself dangerously isolated and alienated from the rest of the world.

The revolution that overthrew the long and tyrannical rule of the Shah was a watershed event not just in the history of the Middle East but the whole of Islamic world and beyond. Whether one agrees with the ideology behind the revolution or not, one cannot ignore the impact it has had on the rest of the world.

By throwing out the yoke of Western hegemony as well as spurning the Soviet influence, Iran chose to chart its own course and evolve its own trajectory. It was thus an inspiring example for the region and beyond. Of course, the country has had to pay a heavy price for its independence of spirit. It fought a long and devastating war with Iraq, not to mention its endless and continuing confrontation with the United States and the West. So coming this far despite its constant defiance of world powers is no mean feat.

But what now? Where does Iran go from here? Perhaps, it’s time for the Islamic republic’s leaders and people to pause and ponder the future of their country. It has to learn from both its mistakes and achievements. And a course correction should be done if necessary. One thing is clear, Iran cannot continue on the same path of isolation and confrontation. Self-reliance and independence are necessary for a proud people, especially for a civilisation as old and rich as Iran is. But independence must not lead to isolation.

Iran’s single-minded pursuit of nuclear power has ended up further alienating its neighbours and the world community. Israel and its powerful friends in the US and Europe have been running an increasingly sophisticated campaign pushing for action against Teheran.

Iran has already been battling a regime of punitive sanctions for nearly three decades and there’s talk of additional and tougher sanctions ahead. Israel and its hardline leadership have already on more than one occasion betrayed their enthusiasm for opening a new front against the Islamic republic. On the other hand, a pro-democracy and pro-reform campaign is fast turning into an anti-government and anti-Islamic republic movement.

Both these issues have been badly and callously handled by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His rhetoric on the nuclear programme as well as on Israel has not earned Iran any friends. In fact, his obsessive posturing is playing right into the hands of Iran’s enemies. And his excessive response to opposition protest has cost Iran the little support it had in the region and around the world. As Iran crosses another milestone, it must rethink and review its priorities and the pitfalls ahead.

Seventy per cent of Iran’s population today was born after the Revolution. And it’s impatient for change and wants to reconnect with the world. Iran’s leaders would ignore their aspirations at their own peril.





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