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IU expert available to discuss Ahmadinejad's second inauguration, other events in Iran

July 31, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Next week, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to be inaugurated for a second term in office as Iran's president. Yet he faces a hornet's nest. Iran's society is in the worst political turmoil since 1979, and its economy is sliding downward rapidly too.

Jamsheed Choksy

Photo by Aaron Bernstein

Jamsheed Choksy

Print-Quality Photo

Jamsheed Choksy, IU professor of Central Eurasian Studies, history, ancient studies and India studies and an adjunct professor in religious studies, is available to discuss this and other developments. He can be reached at 812-855-8643 (o), 317-294-5232 (m) or

After seven weeks of aggressive repression, Ahmadinejad's government still has only limited success keeping dissent out of the public view, Choksy notes.

"Revolutionary Guards bashing of heads at funerary commemorations yesterday (July 30) was yet another try at quashing the popular uprising that is underway in Iran," he said. "But the resistance has morphed. Even as the fundamentalist regime controls the streets, it is undermined by cyber attacks, work stoppages, sabotage of administrative infrastructure, denunciations after Muslim prayer services every Friday, even impromptu gatherings and demonstrations.

"Essentially, any occasion has become a potential locus of protest against a government viewed as illegitimate by the Iranian people including leading ayatollahs like Hossein Ali Montazeri and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani."

Choksy said that Ahmadinejad squandered Iran's fiscal reserves on pet projects during his first term as Iran's president, including nuclear energy, tacticle missles, aid to Hamas and Hezbollah, and price subsidies for groups within Iran such as the Revolutionary Guards, Basij paramilitary and villagers who supported his initial election. His new administration will have to grapple with an inflation rate more than 20 percent and an unemployment rate of at least 12 percent.

"What shape Ahmadinejad's new government will take is unclear," Choksy said. "His choice for first vice president -- a relative through marriage -- was ousted by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other fundamentalist mullahs for not being sufficiently anti-Israeli. His current cabinet of ministers has stormed out of meetings, refusing to accept his authority. He has retaliated against them by firing the Minister of Intelligence and Security.

"Many hard-line clerics are advising the supreme leader to stop siding with Ahmadinejad and turn him into a scapegoat for the failed electoral process. They fear that the theocracy itself is in danger of being overturned by the people," he added. "The Iranian fundamentalist theocracy is indeed in serious trouble."

While the momentum for change in Iran may appear to those outside Iran, to be sputtering, the IU professor noted that the last Iranian revolution took years to gain momentum, before an actual uprising that lasted about one year.

"Even if he does take the oath of office next week with Supreme Leader Khamenei's blessings, Ahmadinejad faces an uphill struggle to make Iran function successfully as a nation state, to regain the trust of Iran's people and to prevent a revolution," Choksy said.