A few highlights from Abbas Milani’s interview with Zamaneh.
“The fault line that has existed between the people and the regime in the past 30 years has now become obvious. There is also the second crack, which is between different factions of this regime. These two fault lines have met at this post-election juncture of Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent election and a great storm has resulted. The end is not clear yet.”
On role of technology:
“On the one hand, the type of technology that the Iranian movement is using today is modern, but on the other hand this is a historical recurrence. In Iran we have had three large movements in the 20th century: Constitutional Revolution, Islamic Revolution, and now the Third Wave. In all three, the people have been one step ahead of the despot in using the technology.
During the Constitutional revolution the [Quajar] regime controlled preachers, neighborhoods and coffee houses [19th century], but people took advantage of the print and newspaper industries that had just arrived to Iran.
During the Islamic revolution the Shah [Pahlavi] controlled television and had assigned member of Savak [the security and intelligence agency] as editor in chiefs of all major newspapers, but Mr Khomeini used tapes.
And now, the regime thinks it owns the TV and Radio, and that it controls internet, it buys spying devices from china and from San Jose, but people’s collective wisdom is always one step ahead of the wisdom and technology of the despots. Just because of that, our world is today a smaller one, and a tech in Singapore can screw the [IRI’s] Ministry of Intelligence and its Made in China filtering devices.
On differences of Iran from its neighboring countries in terms of fundamentalism and Talibanism:
“Iran is different because Iran has been ahead of its neighbors in the past century. All movements in the Middle East have been initiated from Iran: from constitutional revolution to Islamic revolution and now the revolt of the youth that is likely to spread elsewhere. But we have fundamentalist Shiism as well. The thinkings of Mr Mesbah, who is Mr Hamadinejad’s mentor, are nothing less than Taliban’s. His animosity with democracy is as strong as Taliban’s. His superstitions are as superstitious as any Sunni fundamentalist, although the fundamentalist movements have begun with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
However, in terms of its social and economic growth, rate of education, the size of the middle class, the number of those who travel abroad, it is far ahead of many other countries. In Iran, with 70 million population, more than 22 million work with computers, there are 550,000 Iranian bloggers, last year 6000 book titles are published, while in all of the Arab countries, only 1200 titles were published.”
On the role of Americans in this movement:
“Five months ago, in Boston Review, I explained that the Democratic movement in Iran needs the help of the American Citizens more than the help of the American governmet. Technical help, Knowledge help, translation of their works, and making life hell for Ahmadinejad when he comes to the US.”
“America has to stay away from internal affairs of Iran. Showing sympathy, as much as possible, which is what Obama has done. But in current situation, what more can Obama do? Many of those who are criticizing Obama are those for whose ignorance, and paranoia and their excessive speeches have forced Obama to be more cautious nouw. When Mr McCain sang, “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb” and joked about bombing Iran, created an anti-American atmosphere that forces Obama to be more cautious to diffuse those sentiments. Those who wreaked these havocs in Iran, announced that they will give 5 million dollars [to advance democracy in Iran] and only those who had no sense of democracy, and only followed the scent of money went after that cash.
Which Iranian democrat accepted that 5 million dollars? But with that 5 million dollars they defamed all of democracy activists of Iran. It is these people who are now criticizing Obama for not participating more actively and more explicitly. […] If America wants to help Iranian’s movement, it is best to stay out of it.”
On differences of the new generation and the past intellectuals/revolutionaries:
“Our generation was one that saw in terms of black and white. This generation is taking advantage of any crack in the regime, take advantage of any instance when they can express themselves. Essentially, they have no ideological belonging. In a sense to have a pre-constructed universe to which they want to fit their world. They face the world as it unravels.”
(I am at the airport and my internet will soon run out of charge!, will post the reference later.)