en-de  What Is Fueling the Protests in Iran? Medium
Was treibt die Proteste im Iran an?

Und was, wenn überhaupt, sollten die US deswegen tun?

Von Isaac Chotiner, Slate, 1.Januar 2018. http://www.slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/12/protests-flare-in-cities-across-iran-as-thousands-express-dissatisfaction-with-rouhani-government.html.

Am Donnerstag brachen überall im Iran Proteste aus und haben bis jetzt mindestens ein Dutzend Menschenleben gefordert. Die Gründe für den Aufstand, angefangen bei der Unzufriedenheit mit der Wirtschaft des Landes und seinem erdrückenden politischen System, haben sowohl den obersten Führer des Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, als auch seinen weniger konservativen Präsidenten, Hassan Rouhani, unter Druck gesetzt.

Um die Situation im Iran zu besprechen, telefonierte ich mit Karim Sadjadpour, einem alten Schulkameraden an der Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Während der Dauer unseres Gesprächs, das aus Gründen der Klarheit redigiert und komprimiert wurde, besprachen wir nur, wie stark das Regime des Iran ist, was die Demonstranten wirklich wollen und wie die Vereinigten Staaten und Irans Nachbarn wahrscheinlich reagieren werden.

Isaac Chotiner: In den letzten 15 Jahren gab es eine Anzahl von Ereignissen, die alle durch das Prisma eines aufstrebenden Irans analysiert wurden - die amerikanische Invasion im Irak, das Nuklear-Abkommen mit dem Iran, der Beinahe-Sieg von Irans Verbündetem Bashar Assad im syrischen Bürgerkrieg. Haben Sie den Iran als aufstrebend angesehen und hat die letzte Woche etwas an Ihrer Meinung geändert?

Karim Sadjadpour: Ich denke, es ist wahr, dass Iran, als Ergebnis des Machtvakuums im Mittleren Osten, nach außen machtvoller geworden ist. Wir setzten 2003 die Regierung des Irak ab und der Iran hat dieses Machtvakuum effektiv gefüllt. Die Aufstände in der arabischen Welt 2011 zerstörten bis zu einem gewissen Grad die Zentralregierungen in Ländern wie Jemen, Syrien, und der Iran versuchte, auch diese Macht-Vakuen zu füllen. Sicherlich ist es wahr, dass sich Irans Einfluss im Mittleren Osten ausgeweitet hat, aber ich denke, dass die Geschichte, die wir verpasst haben, die wachsende wirtschaftliche, politische und soziale Frustration innerhalb des Iran ist.

Es gab Gerüchte, dass diese Demonstranten eigentlich von Hardlinern im Regime gestartet wurden, die Präsident Rohani untergraben wollten. Sehen Sie irgend etwas Wahres in diesem Gerücht?

Es ist schwierig zu bestätigen, aber ich glaube, es ist sehr plausibel. Aber, wenn es wirklich Hardliner wären, die Leute dazu ermutigen, ihre wirtschaftlichen Frustrationen gegen Präsident Rouhani zu artikulieren, hat es jetzt ein Eigenleben angenommen. Es wird angetrieben durch die gleiche Art von Wut und Frustrationen, die Anti-Regierungs-Proteste in der ganzen Welt antreiben: eine Kombination von steigenden Lebenshaltungskosten, Korruption und Unterdrückung. Aber ich denke eine Sache, die irgendwie einzigartig für die Islamische Republik des Iran ist, dass sie nicht nur politisch und ökonomisch autoritär ist, sondern auch sozial autoritär. Es sagt einem, was man tragen kann, was man trinken kann oder nicht, mit wem man interagieren kann. Ich denke, das war schon lange eine Quelle der Frustration, besonders für junge Iraner.

Was glauben Sie, enthüllen die Demonstrationen über die Brüche innerhalb des Regimes?

Also, ich vermute, dass viele der Leute, die protestieren, wahrscheinlich für Präsident Rouhani gestimmt haben. Nicht unbedingt weil sie ihn lieben, aber weil sie dachten, dass er die beste ihnen angebotene Wahlmöglichkeit gewesen wäre. Also ist es schwierig für Rouhani, sich öffentlich dafür einzusetzen, sie zu vernichten, weil diese im Wesentlichen seine Wähler waren. Nun gibt es Bedenken, dass einige Iraner gesagt haben, dass die Revolutionsgarde diesen Protesten sogar erlauben zu gären, um sie schließlich als Vorwand zu nutzen, um einzugreifen und sie niederzuschlagen und damit ihre Autorität im Land auszuweiten.

Eine der Sachen, die wir im Auge behalten sollten ist, dass diese Proteste, diese protestierenden Bürger, führerlos sind. Sie sind unorganisiert. Sie sind unbewaffnet. Der Zwangsapparat des Regimes, die Revolutionsgarde und die Basij-Miliz sind schwer bewaffnet. Sie sind höchst organisiert. Sie haben gründliche Erfahrung mit Repression und Massenkontrolle. Für sie ist es eine Wissenschaft. Sie können sich nicht nur auf einen iranischen Zwangsapparat verlassen, sondern während der letzten Dekade hat der Iran auch die schiitischen Milizen ausgebildet. Bekanntlich Hisbollah im Libanon. Sie haben afghanische und pakistanische Milizen zusammengestellt, um in Syrien zu kämpfen. Also, falls sie sich Sorgen machen, dass sie nicht auf die Iraner zählen können, um andere Iraner zu unterdrücken, stehen dem Regime möglicherweise die schiitischen Söldner zur Verfügung.

Was war bisher zu alledem die Reaktion der anderen Golf-Staaten?

Ich denke, dass Vertreter der Golfstaaten, insbesondere saudische Vertreter, sehr enthusiastisch sind, dass das iranische Regime wegen der letzten Jahre beschämt ist, es sind die Vertreter des Iran gewesen, die den Kollaps des Hauses Saud vorhersagen.

Aus der Sicht der Saudis, ist das Regime im Iran das schlechtest mögliche Regime, das sie dort haben könnten?

Eines der Paradoxe des Iran im Kontext des Nahen Ostens ist, dass die meisten Regierungen im Nahen Osten von säkularen Autokraten regiert werden, die vor allem die islamische Opposition unterdrücken. Das ist der Fall in Ägypten, dem Assad-Regime, zu einem gewissen Grad würde ich behaupten, die Monarchien am Persischen Golf. Im Iran hat man die entgegengesetzte Dynamik. Es ist eine islamistische Autokratie, die eine vorrangig sekuläre Opposition unterdrückt. Also denke ich, dass viele Leute glauben, dass es ein gutes Zeichen für die Vereinigten Staaten und für Saudi Arabien wäre, falls der Iran eine representativere Regierung werden und nationale Interessen verfolgenden würde, statt revolutionärer Ideologie.

Ich vermute, ich dachte gerade sehr zynisch. Vielleicht mögen es die Saudis, einen regionalen Gegner zu haben, den sie wegen allem beschuldigen und als Entschuldigung für jegliche aggressive Außenpolitik benutzen können, die sie wollen.

Ich denke im jedem Land der Welt, einschließlich der Vereinigten Staaten, gibt es Hardline-Elemente, die durch externe Bedrohungen für interne Zweckdienlichkeit gedeihen. Ehrlich gesagt, das fängt vor allem die Islamische Republik Iran ein. Das hat das Regime seit vier Jahrzehnten getan und externe Bedrohungen für interne politische Zweckdienlichkeit genutzt.

Ich möchte diese Konversation über die Vereinigten Staaten nicht führen, aber sehen Sie die Reaktion von Trump auf das Nuklearabkommen als Teil der inneren Situation im Iran?

Die Menschen unterstützten das Atomabkommen mit überwältigender Mehrheit. Ich habe immer behauptet, dass die iranische Gesellschaft danach strebt, wie Südkorea zu sein, nicht wie Nordkorea. But I think ... Crane Brinton, who wrote a book about revolutions, he argued that popular uprisings often times happen when people's expectations are raised and then abruptly dashed. So, people's expectations were raised by the nuclear deal, but the quality of life hasn't materially improved.

One thing you notice from the protest is that I haven't heard any slogans denouncing sanctions or denouncing America or Donald Trump. Die Schlagworte verurteilen im Wesentlichen die iranische Führung, Korruption und Misswirtschaft. So, I think this is one of the things we unfortunately miss by a lack of access to Iran, is that these kinds of daily frustrations that, not really people in Tehran, but people outside of Tehran have been experiencing. Wir sind dem nicht ausgesetzt gewesen. We're much more reliant on journalists whose main access is through Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who has tweeted that all Iranians are sympathetic to the revolutionary guards and all Iranians are opposed to U.S. policies, which ... Iran is a diverse society of 80 million people. Some support the regime. Many dislike the regime. If there's one thing we've learned, it is that all of our big data and polling, no one got the election of Donald Trump right. So, we really have to be humble about our ability to make judgments.

Is there anything that the White House should do or not do?

I think the White House, the Trump administration, should not be focusing on what to say, but what to do. I think what's most important for them to do is to think about ways to prevent the Iranian government from being able to shut down the Internet, and control and monopolize communication. One way I think the U.S. can do that is to make clear to companies and countries around the world that if they're found complicit in providing the Iranian government the means and technology to repress or censor people, they'll be censured by the United States.

Is it harder to tell companies that, when we are not consistent in our outrage about countries in the region repressing their people?

Listen, if you're an American politician or you're working at the State Department, and you're thinking about U.S. national interests, a protest movement against a government whose official slogan is "Death to America" is more appealing to you than a protest movement against the Jordanian monarchy, which is allied with the United States. So, there's always going to be a moral inconsistency there because you're not looking at this through a purely moral lens. You're looking at this through the lens of U.S. national interests. So yeah, anti-government protests in Iran give U.S. officials hope. Anti-government protests in Jordan or Saudi Arabia would give U.S. officials indigestion.
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What Is Fueling the Protests in Iran?
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And what, if anything, should the U.S. do about it?
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Have you thought of Iran as rising, and has the last week changed your opinion?
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In 2003, we removed the government of Iraq, and Iran has effectively filled that power vacuum.
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Do you put any truth in that rumor?
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It’s difficult to confirm, but I think it's very plausible.
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It tells you what you can wear, what you can or can't drink, whom you can interact with.
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I think that's been a long-time source of frustration in particular for young Iranians.
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What do you think the demonstrations reveal about the cleavages within the regime itself?
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They're unorganized.
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They're unarmed.
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The regime's coercive apparatus, the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij militia, they're heavily armed.
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They're heavily organized.
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They have a level of experience with repression and crowd control.
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They have that down to a science.
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You know, Hezbollah in Lebanon.
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They've been assembling Afghan and Pakistani militia men to fight in Syria.
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What has been the reaction to all this so far from the other Gulf states?
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In Iran, you have the opposite dynamic.
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It's an Islamist autocracy, repressing a primarily secular opposition.
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I guess I was just thinking more cynically.
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Frankly, that captures the Islamic Republic of Iran above all.
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People were overwhelmingly supportive of the nuclear deal.
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I've always argued that Iranian society aspires to be like South Korea, not North Korea.
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The slogans are essentially denouncing Iran's leadership and corruption and mismanagement.
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We haven't been exposed to that.
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Some support the regime.
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Many dislike the regime.
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So, we really have to be humble about our ability to make judgments.
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Is there anything that the White House should do or not do?
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You're looking at this through the lens of U.S. national interests.
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So yeah, anti-government protests in Iran give U.S. officials hope.
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What Is Fueling the Protests in Iran?

And what, if anything, should the U.S. do about it?

By Isaac Chotiner, Slate, January 1, 2018.

http://www.slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/12/protests-flare-in-cities-across-iran-as-thousands-express-dissatisfaction-with-rouhani-government.html.

On Thursday, protests broke out all over Iran, and have so far resulted in the deaths of at least a dozen people. The causes of the upheaval, ranging from discontent with the country’s economy and its stifling political system, have put pressure on both Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and its less conservative president, Hassan Rouhani.

To discuss the situation in Iran, I spoke by phone with Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed just how strong Iran’s regime is, what the demonstrators really want, and how the United States and Iran’s neighbors are likely to react.

Isaac Chotiner: In the last 15 years, there have been a number of events that have all been analyzed through the prism of a rising Iran—the American invasion of Iraq, the nuclear deal with Iran, the near-victory of Iran’s ally Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war. Have you thought of Iran as rising, and has the last week changed your opinion?

Karim Sadjadpour: I think it's true that Iran has become more powerful externally as a result of power vacuums in the Middle East. In 2003, we removed the government of Iraq, and Iran has effectively filled that power vacuum. The 2011 uprising in the Arab world destroyed central governments in places like Yemen, in Syria to some extent, and Iran also tried to fill those power vacuums. Certainly, it's true that in the Middle East, Iran's influence has expanded, but I think the story we have missed is growing economic, political and social frustration within Iran.

There were rumors that these demonstrations were actually started by hard-liners in the regime who wanted to undermine President Rouhani. Do you put any truth in that rumor?

It’s difficult to confirm, but I think it's very plausible. But if indeed it was hard-liners who encouraged people to voice their economic frustrations against President Rouhani, it's now taken on a new life. It's being fueled by the same type of anger and frustrations that fuel anti-government protests around the world: a combination of rising living costs, corruption, repression. But I think one thing that is somewhat unique about the Islamic Republic of Iran is that it's not only politically and economically authoritarian, but it's also socially authoritarian. It tells you what you can wear, what you can or can't drink, whom you can interact with. I think that's been a long-time source of frustration in particular for young Iranians.

What do you think the demonstrations reveal about the cleavages within the regime itself?

Well, I'm guessing that many of the people who are protesting are people who probably voted for President Rouhani. Not necessarily because they love him, but because they thought he was the best choice offered to them. So, it's difficult for Rouhani to come out and advocate crushing them because these were essentially his constituents. Now, there are concerns that some Iranians have said that the Revolutionary Guard are actually allowing these protests to fester to eventually use as a pretext for coming in and crushing them and expanding their authority in the country.

One of the things we have to keep in mind is that these protests, the citizens who are protesting, they're leaderless. They're unorganized. They're unarmed. The regime's coercive apparatus, the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij militia, they're heavily armed. They're heavily organized. They have a level of experience with repression and crowd control. They have that down to a science. Not only can they rely on an Iranian coercive apparatus, but for the last decade, Iran has been training the Shia militias. You know, Hezbollah in Lebanon. They've been assembling Afghan and Pakistani militia men to fight in Syria. So, if they're worried they can't count on Iranians to repress other Iranians, the regime potentially has the Shia mercenaries at their disposal.

What has been the reaction to all this so far from the other Gulf states?

I think that Gulf officials, particularly Saudi officials, are very enthusiastic that the Iranian regime is being embarrassed, because for the last years, it's been Iranian officials who are predicting the collapse of the House of Saud.

From the Saudi point of view, is the regime in Iran the worst possible regime they could have there?

One of the paradoxes of Iran in the Middle Eastern context is that most Middle Eastern governments are ruled by secular autocrats who are repressing primarily Islamic opposition. That's the case in Egypt, the Assad regime, to some extent, I would argue the Persian Gulf monarchies. In Iran, you have the opposite dynamic. It's an Islamist autocracy, repressing a primarily secular opposition. So, I think that many people believe that if Iran were to become a more representative government, and pursue national interests instead of revolutionary ideology, that would bode well for the United States, for Saudi Arabia.

I guess I was just thinking more cynically. Maybe the Saudis like having a regional adversary that they can blame everything on and use as an excuse for whatever aggressive foreign policy they want.

I think in every country around the world, including in the United States, there are hardline elements that thrive by using external threats for internal expediency. Frankly, that captures the Islamic Republic of Iran above all. That's what the regime has been doing for four decades, using external threats for internal political expediency.

I don't want to make this conversation about the United States, but do you see the nuclear deal or Trump's response to the nuclear deal as playing any part in the internal situation in Iran?

People were overwhelmingly supportive of the nuclear deal. I've always argued that Iranian society aspires to be like South Korea, not North Korea. But I think ... Crane Brinton, who wrote a book about revolutions, he argued that popular uprisings often times happen when people's expectations are raised and then abruptly dashed. So, people's expectations were raised by the nuclear deal, but the quality of life hasn't materially improved.

One thing you notice from the protest is that I haven't heard any slogans denouncing sanctions or denouncing America or Donald Trump. The slogans are essentially denouncing Iran's leadership and corruption and mismanagement. So, I think this is one of the things we unfortunately miss by a lack of access to Iran, is that these kinds of daily frustrations that, not really people in Tehran, but people outside of Tehran have been experiencing. We haven't been exposed to that. We're much more reliant on journalists whose main access is through Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who has tweeted that all Iranians are sympathetic to the revolutionary guards and all Iranians are opposed to U.S. policies, which ... Iran is a diverse society of 80 million people. Some support the regime. Many dislike the regime. If there's one thing we've learned, it is that all of our big data and polling, no one got the election of Donald Trump right. So, we really have to be humble about our ability to make judgments.

Is there anything that the White House should do or not do?

I think the White House, the Trump administration, should not be focusing on what to say, but what to do. I think what's most important for them to do is to think about ways to prevent the Iranian government from being able to shut down the Internet, and control and monopolize communication. One way I think the U.S. can do that is to make clear to companies and countries around the world that if they're found complicit in providing the Iranian government the means and technology to repress or censor people, they'll be censured by the United States.

Is it harder to tell companies that, when we are not consistent in our outrage about countries in the region repressing their people?

Listen, if you're an American politician or you're working at the State Department, and you're thinking about U.S. national interests, a protest movement against a government whose official slogan is "Death to America" is more appealing to you than a protest movement against the Jordanian monarchy, which is allied with the United States. So, there's always going to be a moral inconsistency there because you're not looking at this through a purely moral lens. You're looking at this through the lens of U.S. national interests. So yeah, anti-government protests in Iran give U.S. officials hope. Anti-government protests in Jordan or Saudi Arabia would give U.S. officials indigestion.