Frédéric Encel: “The women of Iran must know that they are supported abroad”

Frederic Encel The women of Iran must know that they

Doctor in geopolitics and lecturer at Sciences Po Paris, columnist at L’Express, Frédéric Encel brings together many personalities this March 31 in Paris to discuss the fate of women in Iran.

L’Express: Iran is in the sixth month of protest since the death of the young Mahsa Amini. Civil disobedience and sporadic demonstrations continue, despite intense repression. What is specific about this movement compared to the previous ones?

Frederic Encel: First, it is not primarily of a social nature. Between 2009 and 2019, on several occasions, gigantic demonstrations had already taken place – in 2009, there was even talk of an “Iranian spring”, but the demands were mainly about purchasing power, inflation, corruption caciques and thugs of the regime. Not that this dimension no longer exists, but the main claim is more societal, moral and identity-related than social or economic.

Precisely, it is a movement launched by women but it concerns all of Iranian society. Does this current call for a global political change?

Difficult to answer when you do not live in the country, I will be careful; Since the start of the protest, we have certainly seen many heroic acts and words and a real semantic, artistic and intellectual challenge launched to the fanatics who lead the regime, but behind what coherent revolutionary corpus? For there to be a political revolution, a fairly representative leadership must emerge that proposes a global alternative. What is it today? Publicly accusing the supreme leader of being a fanatic and the president a dictator is both courageous and conclusive, but it is not enough. Supporters of the Shah’s son, the People’s Mujahideen, a political force sui generis out of the street? Since the beginning of the prodigious wave “Woman, life, freedom”, I am not convinced that a political force (and even less military, since no “liberating” armed force awaits a green light at the border) is likely to overthrow the Islamic Republic. Don’t get me wrong: this deadline will come, but not through the current challenge.

Assuming that the mullahs’ regime can be overthrown, what can one imagine? A Syrian scenario? A demand for autonomy from minorities? A military coup by the Revolutionary Guards?

Certainly not the ultimate hypothesis, because the Guardians of the Revolution – moreover very richly endowed by the power – constitute an essential pillar of the regime. On the other hand, the exasperation of the populations of at least two regions (Kurdistan and Balochistan), constantly repressed and underestimated, could well lead to a form of autonomism. The Syrian scenario does not resemble this prospect. It took place in a very different political, cultural, demographic and institutional context. It was a denominational clan in power for half a century, a split opposition but quickly militarized and claiming, except for the Kurds, neither federalism nor regionalism.

You are organizing on Friday March 31 – with the European Association for the Defense of Liberties – a symposium in Paris* devoted to the fate of women in Iran, in the presence of many intellectuals. Is it really useful?

I do not pretend to change the face of the world or even, alas, to improve the lot of women and oppressed minorities in Iran. But sticking to this reality poses two problems. First, if everyone abstains, we can actually be sure that nothing will change! Then, the women of Iran must know that they are supported outside; I believe this moral and intellectual support to be invaluable. As a humanist geopolitical scientist rejecting cynicism, I think that it is not because we cannot intervene directly by force that we should not act indirectly via citizen mobilization. One thing is to observe the misfortunes inflicted by authoritarian regimes and their swashbucklers on civilians, quite another to be satisfied with it.

* Friday, March 31, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Paris School of Business (Grand amphi), 59 rue Nationale Paris XIIIe. In partnership with L’Express. Registration : [email protected]

Many prestigious guests will be present at the conference on March 31.

© / DR