A Saffron Revolution in Iran? I Doubt It

I'm a little tired of "colored revolution" talk, mostly because what we've learned lately from Georgia and Ukraine is that getting rid of a bad government is the easy part; figuring out ways to institutionalize democratic governance is much, much harder.

There's not a lot of good news coming out of either country. Saakashvili has revealed himself to be the garden-variety post-Soviet tyrant that many already believed he was and the Ukrainians just this week forming a ruling coalition two months after the election.

So, when talk starts about a "Saffron Revolution" in Iran starts, I roll my eyes a bit. Be careful for what you wish for.

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It's Clan-Tastic!

A few weeks back, the New York Times ran a short article that laments how clan dynamics that affect public opinion and voter behavior in Central Asia are overlooked or disregarded by policymakers. I agree.

Clans are a part of the picture in obvious places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, but also in places with more developed political cultures, like Turkey, and obscure places like Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. In the absence of sustainable political parties, they provide a structure for communication and dissemination of political power. Understanding clan-based societies is important from both a democracy promotion and public opinion perspective for many of the same reasons.

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