Friday, October 16, 2009


In the crunk and disorderly sub culture of hedonistic partying -- there is a concept best described as 'peaking.'

Essentially, the height -- the summit -- of the buzz is acquired -- any more would be superfluous. The limit of aggrandizement attained -- maintaining the peak is another critter all together...

In a way -- this may be applied to nation states too -- including the gay free Iranian regime.

"In Tehran, there is an unmistakable sense that the Islamic Republic has reached the limits of its appeal.

"The paradox is that Iran’s power was at its peak only a few months ago, on the eve of the disputed elections. Internally, power was firmly in the hands of a conservative clique utterly obedient to the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and in which the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was the most visible player.

"Regionally Iran had become a heavyweight able both to shape the Middle Eastern agenda and to thwart the US. For many, Iran seemed determined, omnipotent and unstoppable.

"Since then, however, the controversy over the elections has exposed the reality of a profoundly troubled country, where the legitimacy of the ruling elite is contested and the cost of an aggressive foreign policy questioned. Among the slogans heard during the street protests was “Na Qazeh, Na Lobnan, Janam Faday-e Iran” or “No Gaza, No Lebanon, My life to be sacrificed for Iran”.

"Why are Iran’s internal conditions so crucial to its regional appeal? Because its charm offensive in the Arab world is built in large part on the notion that it has struck the right balance between Islamist values, popular representation, revolutionary ideals, state modernisation and defiance of the West. But with Iranian society now screaming its anger at electoral fraud, state-sanctioned abuse, economic failure and regime corruption, the Islamic Republic can no longer credibly parade as an inspiring model.

"It is unclear how this will play out in the Arab world. There have been no scientific polls to gauge how the Arab world reacted to Iranian discontent, but it is safe to say there was a mix of confusion and apprehension. Arab officialdom has always exaggerated Iran’s reach out of concern, fantasy and convenience, so it would certainly have welcomed the disarray.

"Those who lionised Mr Khamenei and Mr Ahmadinejad unsurprisingly sided with them, but if you are Syria or Hizbollah and you see your senior partner mired in an internal political quagmire, you have to wonder about the long-term viability of the alliance.

"For all, the basic question is the same: will Iran direct its limited resources to placating internal discontent or will it act more aggressively to divert attention and take the fight elsewhere? Indeed, Iran’s internal unrest could be the catalyst that drives the regime to become more adventurist.

"The leadership always considered the cost of regional overreach bearable because it provides a strategic defence and symbolic returns. Mr Ahmadinejad points to his approval rating in the Arab world to convince his countrymen that his policies are worth the investment.

"Beyond the funding and support for Hizbollah, Hamas and Syria, Iranian foreign policy has relied considerably on soft power: championing causes that Iran blames the Arab states for neglecting, such as the fate of Palestine and social justice; mastering nuclear technology; defying western imperialism and Israeli power while accusing Arab states of placing their destiny in US hands.

"For these reasons many Arabs have come to romanticise Iran: Mr Ahmadinejad and the Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah regularly rank at the top of the region’s most admired leaders.

"But, as the Iranian analyst Karim Sadjadpour cheekily notes, when asked where they would most like to live, Arabs choose Dubai and Beirut, the region’s most liberal cities, not Tehran; and they line up for visas outside western consulates, not Iranian ones.

"Declaring love for the muqawama costs nothing when talking to a pollster in Egypt or Kuwait, but that is not the same as wanting to live it, which comes at a price. That is the real limit of Iran’s popular appeal.

"Iran can of course count on its hard power to protect its regional interests, but cracks are appearing there too. The Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, declined to join an Iranian-engineered Shia political alliance and now leads a slate comprising Sunni and nationalist parties for the crucial elections in January. Syria is being courted by Saudi Arabia, France and the US to loosen its alliance with Iran.

"A weakened Iran could strike a deal with the US at Syria’s expense, so Damascus might be pondering whether to do so first. Tehran cannot even rely on its traditional anti-US tirades, which have been defused by Barack Obama’s diplomatic overtures.

"None of that should suggest that Iran’s appeal and activism will fade soon.

"But the narrative of a mighty, cohesive Islamic Republic has taken a serious hit that should be exploited now.

Pic " We're falling faster - this is sooo last year"


Scott McLean said...

hi. great photos and Lacuna Coil rocked out totally this summer when I saw them in concert! They are so Cool! You are cool too.

Render said...

Ali Khamenei may be dead, or dying.


Steve Harkonnen said...

Who can ever forget Gordon Brown's quote not long ago on Iran: