Source: Centre for Development Policy and Research, SOAS Number 39, Oct 2009
Elaheh Rostami-Povey, London Middle East Institute and Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS
The recent uprising in Iran, which started in the summer of 2009, has raised a number of major issues for debate in the international media and among politicians, academics and activists. This Development Viewpoint discusses the background to the uprising, its social composition and demands, and its implication for Iran and the region. In the process, it seeks to dispel some of the prevailing misconceptions about the nature of this mass movement.
Most analysts in the West portray Iran as a religiously conservative country, ignoring its momentous socio-economic transformations since the 1979 revolution. Especially during the 1990s and until today, Iran has undergone massive changes and has achieved substantial progress in human development.
9th Oct Guardian
The possibility that Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon and the reality that it is building a capability for enriching uranium continue to raise tensions in the Middle East and could push other countries in the region to move in the same direction. In my view the issue of nuclear weapons is not really of great importance for today’s negotiations. After all, even if there were no such ambition now, Iran could change its mind next year and would then have come closer to a weapon by the progress made in the enrichment programme.
Juan Cole Oct 1st Informed Comment
Belief: Iran is aggressive and has threatened to attack Israel, its neighbors or the US
Reality: Iran has not launched an aggressive war modern history (unlike the US or Israel), and its leaders have a doctrine of “no first strike.” This is true of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as well as of Revolutionary Guards commanders.
Belief: Iran is a militarized society bristling with dangerous weapons and a growing threat to world peace.
Reality: Iran’s military budget is a little over $6 billion annually. Sweden, Singapore and Greece all have larger military budgets. Moreover, Iran is a country of 70 million, so that its per capita spending on defense is tiny compared to these others, since they are much smaller countries with regard to population. Iran spends less per capita on its military than any other country in the Persian Gulf region with the exception of the United Arab Emirates.