Wednesday, June 17, 2009

And what of the Bazaaris?

Andrew Sullivan has been doing a fantastic job aggregating the news and information coming out of Iran, and the analysis that’s been coming out of various sources outside of Iran. I think Andrew lacks enough background knowledge about Iran , however, to properly put a lot of the information in context, or to recognize what analysis is really ideologically driven crap and what reflects a good understanding of Iran. One such question I’d like to see him pose-since he seems to be able to drive some of the conversation throughout the blogosphere and the pundit class-is ‘what of the Bazaaris?’

The Bazaaris, of course, are the merchant class in Iran, particularly Tehran, that are widely viewed as having played a key role in the 1979 Revolution and the pro-Mosadegh demonstrations in the 1950s. Win the bazaaris and you win Iran, or so goes the conventional wisdom.

Answering that question, I think, would go a long way towards resolving the dispute between the Green Sea Optimists (like Lauren Secor) and the Green Sea Pessimists (like Steve Coll). Coll, a fantastic journalist who has done great work, and with whom I generally agree, is maybe too quick to dismiss the budding revolution out of hand. If the Bazaaris are with the people that have taken to the street, then, historically, I say this budding revolution has a fair chance of bringing about something new.

What that something new is, is an open question. It doesn’t seem like the people in the streets at this point have any particular end result in mind and it doesn’t seem like Mousavi himself has any thing in mind, either – indeed, Mousavi seems to have in many respects been caught up in the Green Sea himself and is still grappling for a goal with which to provide it direction.

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