In my last post on the Iranian elections I asked:
[W]hat is going on in the countryside? Because it is those people that got Ahmadinejad elected in the first place. Are they rioting?
Is it possible that rural Iran, where less than 35 percent of the country’s population lives, provided Ahmadinejad the 63 percent of the vote he claims to have won? That would contradict my own research in Iran’s villages over the past 30 years, including just recently. I do not carry out research in Iran’s cities, as do foreign reporters who otherwise live in the metropolises of Europe and North America, and so I wonder how they can make such bold assertions about the allegedly extensive rural support for Ahmadinejad.
I guess I have been called out. However, the article does not provide any hard numbers, and furthermore, the scope is only around Shiraz — a city where your correspondent was once lost alone with only three American dollars to his name. But the viewpoint is based on the experience of a longtime researcher (I’ll have to read his full article in MERIP) and provides some insight into the rural perspective and the issue at the heart of the protests, which some may be surprised has nothing to do with building better relations with the West. Summed up:
[The] political elite is divided over how Iran should be governed: a transparent democracy where elected representatives enact laws to benefit the people or a ‘guided democracy’ in which a select few make all decisions because they do not trust the masses to make the right ones. This astute political insight is one that is prevalent in Iran but seems to have escaped the notice of the Western reporters who are trying to explain Iran’s political crisis with resort to simplistic stereotypes.