Where is Iran's revolution heading?

Tehran is seething with angry protesters after allegations of vote-rigging. But talk of a new revolution in Iran is wildly over-optimistic.

Just how revolutionary will Iran's revolution be? asks Con Coughlin in The Daily Telegraph. Anti-government protests provoked by the implausible landslide victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are at levels not seen since the 1979 revolution. But the "democratic hopes of all those brave Iranians who have taken to the streets will ultimately be in vain".

Even if Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the defeated candidate, became president, he wouldn't deliver the regime change so many crave. He served as prime minister under The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, from 1981 to 1989. For the past 30 years he and his supporters have "demonstrated their unswerving dedication to the cause of revolutionary Islam".

Those "talking up the idea of a new revolution in Iran" are over-optimistic, agrees The Independent. Khamenei has allowed the Guardian Council to recount disputed votes an "extraordinary" attempt to placate protesters. But even if the regime eventually hands a prominent role to Mousavi to ensure its survival, Mousavi is "no anti-regime firebrand".

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That's not the point, says Anne Applebaum in The Washington Post. Mousavi may not be a radical alternative, but merely allowing the public the chance to vote against the current president, Ahmadinejad, "inspired the largest turnout anyone can remember". This may have been a bad election, but at least the voting process opened a crack where none had existed. The alleged vote-rigging has also prompted a sense of "severe injustice", and re-politicised many Iranians, says Masoud Golsorkhi in The Guardian.

But if Western powers want to support the demonstrators, they should "do nothing and say even less". George Bush's praise for student demonstrators in 2003 undermined the reformist cause. So far Obama has expressed concern about the reports of violence and vote-rigging, but has avoided voicing support for the demonstrators. And that's likely to continue.

The West's principles may demand it "call foul in Iran", but its interests tell it to bite its lip and deal with whoever is in power, says The Independent. "Iran's nuclear programme, its sponsorship of Palestinian militants, its oil exports and its control of the world's most strategically important shipping lane make the country the hinge of global diplomacy."

Quite, says Reza Molavi, also in The Independent. The West's interests would be best served if it stopped "regurgitating the old line on lack of democracy" and prepared for direct talks on the nuclear issue. Not only has Iran been "caught red-handed" over the elections, the Iranian leadership knows it needs to address the country's "rampant" inflation, unemployment and acute need for foreign investment in the oil and gas industry. That makes the regime more likely to cooperate. Once sanctions are lifted and the gates are flung open to foreigners, I predict that the "avalanche" of resulting business, "compounded by the mismanagement of resources we are seeing Mr Ahmadinejad to be so capable of, will drive him and his cohorts from power".

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 


On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.