Where Is Iran Headed? Strategic Insights: v.1, issue 7 (September 2007)
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In the course of the past twenty years, Iran has undergone profound social and demographic transformations. These changes have sharply altered the nation's social structure, and have produced a population that is increasingly youthful, literate, urbanized, politically conscious, and even globalized. In light of these developments, it is not surprising that Iran's population has, whenever it has been given an opportunity to do so, responded in an overwhelmingly positive fashion to the reform movement's promises of socio-political liberalization and democratization. Internal weaknesses within the reformist movement and, more importantly, fierce resistance and opposition from the so-called conservative camp, however, have up to now impeded the reformers from implementing their agenda. Their standards of living declining and their expectations remaining unfulfilled, Iranians have become increasingly dissatisfied and despondent, losing faith in the ability of the reformers to change meaningfully the nature of the Islamic Republic. The fundamental transformations in the nature of Iran's society, combined with the de-legitimization of the system, are gradually but inexorably eroding the foundations of the Islamic Republic. As a result, the stage is being set for a political transition that will alter Iran's formal arrangement of power, and will turn the country into more of a secular (though not necessarily democratic) republic. This document examines whether this transition will take place through peaceful and incremental or sudden and violent means.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (September 2002), v.1 no.7
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