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Green and Jasmine bleeding together
The series of revolts in the Middle East threatens to deprive Iran of its mortal enemies, furthering the Green movement.
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2011 15:17
Iranian worshippers chant anti-Mubarak slogans, with a poster of Mubarak and Koran after Friday prayers [Reuters]

The democratic Sirocco that is blowing beautifully eastward from North Africa has refreshing ripples and smells of beautiful jasmine across the River Nile, towards the Persian Gulf, beyond the Arabian Sea, over the Indian Ocean and right into the farthest reaches of Iran and Afghanistan and then right into Central Asia. 

The triumph of the democratic will of the Tunisians - and now Egyptians - is a simultaneous victory for the identical aspirations of Iranians who did precisely what we are witnessing in Tunisia and Egypt a year and a half earlier and yet failed to reach for the dream-like finale.

Iranians in and out of their homeland are taking a vicarious delight in the swift success of the Tunisian uprising and in the heroic determinism of Egyptians. Though they have yet to dislodge a far more vicious and entrenched dictatorship that has destroyed their land and distorted their culture for three decades, they are following with punctilious attention to details the dramatic unfolding of events in Tunisia and Egypt. 

In Facebook and Tweets, in websites and webcasts, internet forums and transnational news portals, email list-serves and text messaging - in Persian, French, English, and Arabic, Iranians from around the globe post and repost, watch and re-watch the YouTube clips and Al Jazeera streams, following the unfolding events, offering advice, soliciting details, congratulating their Tunisian and Egyptian friends and colleagues, and have already come up with moving posters and graphics uniting their fates - "The future is ours" reads one in Persian, Arabic, and English. 

Revolutionary fervour

This delight need not be only vicarious. There is every real reason for Iranians to partake in the joy and delight of their Tunisian and Egyptian brothers and sisters, for the spread of the Jasmine Revolution is a solid victory for the Green Movement in very precise and measured ways. This wind of freedom knows no colonially manufactured or racialized demarcation. The root causes of these uprisings are the same - from Afghanistan and Iran to Iraq and Palestine, Tunisia and now, the biggest apple of all - the apple whose fall will create a new Newtonian law of plenary motion about us: Egypt! The root cause of these uprisings is a defiance of a politics of despair, an economics of corruption and cruelty. 

"The Islamic Republic opportunism too is losing its major enemies - and in this region losing enemies is worse than losing friends."

It is imperative that the events in Tunisia and Egypt not to be assimilated backward into a blind retrieval and habitual regurgitation of Arab nationalism, tempting as the cliché of "Arab Spring" seems to be these days. It is not merely as "Arabs" that Tunisians rose against tyranny. It is not just as "Arabs" that Egyptians have revolted against corrupt government. 

It is as citizens of betrayed republics that have been denied them since the end of European colonialism that Tunisians and Egyptians, Yemenis and perhaps others in the region, are rising against the tyrants that rule them - and the US and European interests that keep those tyrants in power against the will of their own people. The commencement of that postcolonial buildup of nations is a deferred promise to all those in the extended shadows of European colonialism, and not just the Arab world. Abusing the memory of the colonial history, traumatised in the US-sponsored coup of 1953, is the very raison d'être of the Islamic Republic, and the brutish theocracy has long since lost it.   

The Tunisian and Egyptian victories are victories for the Green Movement in Iran because it is not just the US heavy-handed presence that is deeply troubled by the prospect of losing its chief allies in the region; but the Islamic Republic opportunism too is losing its major enemies - and in this region losing enemies is worse than losing friends. Over the entirety of its life span, the Islamic Republic has been the singular beneficiary of the politics of despair that has ruled the region, with the pains of Palestine as the epicentre of that opportunism. 

The ruling banality in the Islamic Republic has been and remains the direct beneficiary of every catastrophe that befalls the Arab and Muslim world, from Palestine and Lebanon to Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a balance of terror in the region between the US and its regional allies on one side and the Islamic Republic and its sub-national allies (Hamas, Hezbollah, and Mahdi Army) on the other. Any change in that balance is not just potentially damaging to the US but even more so to the Islamic Republic - and that is good for the cause of liberty in Iran, and in the region. The will of the people in Tunisia and Egypt and perhaps the rest of the Arab world is denying the Islamic Republic its insatiable appetite for enemies. 

There is one more, equally powerful way in which the triumph of the Jasmine Revolution is a cause of joy for the Green Movement in Iran. Over the last year and a half, the US/Iranian neocon contingency that has tried to kidnap (in vain) the Green Movement has been repeating ad nauseam the false cliché that there is no democracy without the mantra of their neoliberalism - that democracy and free market are the two sides of the same coin. 

So far those forces within the Green Movement that have fought against this nonsense have simply provided sustained theoretical arguments. But with the spectacular flight of Ben Ali from Tunisia to Saudi Arabia dispelled the aura of that delusion. Ben Ali's Tunisia was the World Bank and IMF wet dream of yielding to neoliberal recipes. The European Union (Sarkozy's France in particular) was so pleased with Ben Ali's neoliberal policies, even more so than President Bush was with his role in "fight against terrorism", that considered Tunisia an extension of EU. 

And yet, lo and behold, that inside this very neoliberal haven, where the desperate suicide of a jobless young man set the revolution alight, a ruthless and corrupt dictator had run the state for the luxurious benefit of himself and his even more corrupt family entirely unbeknownst to the defenders of "the cause of free market is democracy".   

In denying the Islamic Republic its insatiable needs for enemies, and in exposing the banality of the assumption that without US aid and neoliberal economics there is no democracy - the spread of the Jasmine Revolution is also a solid victory for the Green Movement.

Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

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Al Jazeera
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