Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Smelling fishy in Tehran

Mahmoud Ahmedinijad's government is certainly not one of my favourite governments. A pointless, unpragmatic hardliner whose record in Iran is Akin to Lalu's in Bihar (as far as the economy is concerned) - and whose record outside Iran includes denying the holocaust thus lending illegitimacy to the genuine grievance that Palestinians have about Israel usurping their homeland. He, along with the hard-line former American president (Bush) were responsible for ratcheting up fears of yet another war in the middle east.

Since America hates Ahmedinijad, it does look like the American media has a horse in the race. Building up the rally in Iran would tend to give it a ratings boost. So, one does wonder, is the whole situation in Iran manufactured by those with vested interests?

This does not seem to be the case. You can't count 50 million paper ballots in three hours and decide a winner. The election results do not seem to make sense when viewed side by side along with the older election results. The reformers should have got a larger amount of the vote. And the main challenger (Moussavi) should have won in his home town at least - looking at how large his rallies are in Tehran. This probably proves once and for all that democracy in Iran is a sham. And Iranians, the smart and proud people that they are, are likely to revolt - if the ruling government does not have a genuine majority. And that's exactly what they seem to be doing right now.

How will the government react to this? Will they use excessive force and kill a lot of protestors? Are we seeing the beginning of a repressive regime? Or will the Iranians have another revolution that shall result in a more liberal democracy.

It is inevitable that the government shall try to ban services such as twitter and facebook. They might even end up banning blogs and access to the internet. But people are experts at setting up proxy servers. But it remains to be seen how long this rage against the government shall last. Will the Iranian people be able to sustain this rage in the long run?

The west must do what it can to ensure that access to these services goes on. If necessary, wimax routers (which offer wireless internet for a range of upto 50 km or more) can be installed along the borders in Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey (and Pakistan?). This will give Iranians unlimited access to facebook and twitter (at least in a narrow geographic region). Services passing on information must be orgainzied by email. Satellite photography should replace on-the-ground cameras to monitor unrest. This is the 21st century. We must use current technology to avoid the biggest mistakes of last century - the rise of totalitarianism - especially in large, rich and populous countries.

Expressing solidarity with the Iranian people. [ And hence the sudden green-ness]. Here's to the hope that the truth shall prevail - and that the election results are processed more transparently. If Ahmedinijad's victory was indeed so transparent, then why are the powers that be making this process so opaque?

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