The Back Story in Iran

If you’re looking to get more context for what’s happening right now in Iran, let me direct you to two pieces of media. First, you’ll find above a talk by Abbas Milani, the director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University. It was given last August at Google’s HQ in Mountain View, CA, and it overviews how power is structured in Iran and what drives President Ahmadinejad and the ruling clerics. Then, about 15 minutes into the talk, Milani addresses the presidential election and underscores Ahmadinejad’s declining popularity and poor electoral chances. Milani also reflects on the emerging democratic movement and its ability to get traction. As you’ll see, many of his comments (democracy will come on its own — if we don’t start a war over nukes) are starting to look rather prophetic. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Next, you can listen to a talk recorded this morning, which brings together Milani, Juan Cole (the historian of the Middle East who writes the Informed Comment blog) and Scott Peterson (Istanbul bureau chief for The Christian Science Monitor). This hour long conversation (MP3iTunes) delves into the election and its aftermath and examines what’s at stake for Iran, the Middle East and the US.



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