How will the events in Iran develop? Can we expect radical changes? The death of Mahsa Amin , who was arrested by the morality police for wearing a hijab incorrectly , was followed by protests across Iran . The participants of the actions burn their hijabs and shout : ” Death to the dictator !” ” . Radio Liberty political scientist , orientalist Nikolai Kozhanov spoke to:
– Is this already a political , ideological protest ?
– We must take into account that the country is closed from an information point of view and it is not possible to measure the scale of the actions. We can say that another social explosion has occurred in Iran, but it is more caused by the inability of the conservative regime, which cannot fix the economic situation. Political demands concern the president rather than the theocratic set-up in general. This means that disgruntled people can be intimidated by changing him [the president].
– Can we say that there is a government crisis in Iran ?
– It is too early to talk about it. Sanctions and the government’s inability to solve economic problems have led people to protest. But it will not grow into a revolution yet. There is no idea that would unite people. We must not forget that there are two Irans – the city with its intelligentsia and the countryside where the working population lives. A lot of people here believe in the ideology they are fed [from the government]. The rebellion of the urban youth is neutralized by the loyalty of the youth living in the regions.
– Are there supporters of the West among young people , those who want to live in a modern , modernized Iran , in an Iran that would be a part of the modern world , not so much from a political point of view , but even from a household point of view ?
– of course. Interacting with Iranian youth, especially those who belong to the scientific-intellectual circle, shows that in their lifestyle they have long belonged to the Western world. But all this happens at closed parties, in the kitchen, which is already boring, and again leads to protests, although to protests of domestic content. For example, we saw girls protesting wearing hijab, music groups playing songs that they thought were completely harmless, and that’s it. Unfortunately, such actions are not only suppressed, but also often end with victims.
– How strong is the hidden protest among women ? Does the protest have a female face ?
– Not only now, he always had a woman’s face. A woman in Iran, unlike even in the Arab world, has a great influence on her husband and family. On the other hand, the legislation that establishes a patriarchal system in the country restricts these women. A double situation is created, on the one hand, we have quite active women, girls, who play a big role in science, politics, sports. On the other hand, their actual situation does not coincide with the legal one, especially since this legal situation sometimes allows repression to be carried out against them.
– Recently , Iran has been very strict with people who disagree with the regime , including women ‘s rights fighters . Women themselves are also under repression , for example , there has been an increase in cases of death penalty due to husband’s infidelity or for the wife to protect herself from her husband’s violence . and so on .
– It’s just that such repressions have now become more visible, rougher and tougher. In fact, the legislation has always provided the opportunity to use these repressions and has always been used. It’s just that the relatively liberal regimes that occasionally came to power in Iran used repression more carefully.
– Is the military – punitive apparatus still functioning well in the country ? Does the government trust him unconditionally ?
– Yes. There is no indication that this punitive apparatus will betray the Iranian regime.
– How difficult is the economic situation in Iran , taking into account the crisis related to water and fuel ?
– There is a crisis and it was caused by the accumulation of many problems in the country. By the way, this is not so much due to the sanctions, the sanctions acted more as a catalyst. This is a crisis of the economic system, with its shadow economy, state intervention in business, and so on. There is indeed a problem with water supply, inflation has increased, unemployment has increased. Today, the government, especially the economic bloc, cannot solve the problems in any way. On the other hand, the social security system still allows the poor to have a minimum allowance.
– There is a lot of talk about the fact that the head of the country, 83 -year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei , is in his last days , and the demonstrations started because of this . If this is true , who is left with the country ?
– If not now, it will probably happen in the next five years. Who will the power be transferred to? This is indeed a problem. Those who more or less met the requirements are no longer alive. Among those who want to occupy this position, there are three candidates. But none of them are perfect.
– If we assume that the protest wave will grow and weaken the existing regime , what can this lead to in the region ?
– We are now talking about something that is less possible. However, on the other hand, no one imagined the Islamic revolution. If the regime is indeed weakened, Iran’s ambitions in the region will also be weakened. However, in my opinion, we should expect radical changes only in case of overthrow of the regime, if other people come to the head of the country and bring other ideas.