Iran turmoil offers lesson for non-Western nations
Global Times


The turmoil in Iran has lasted days. US President Donald Trump's backing of protesters in a series of tweets has attracted worldwide attention to Iran. 

Since mass protests broke out Thursday last week in Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city, demonstrations have spread to cities including Tehran. Yet the scale of the protests has not yet surpassed that of 2009. In the beginning, demonstrators seemed to be expressing their dissatisfaction with the country's deteriorating economy and soaring prices but soon political slogans like "political prisoners should be freed" and "freedom or death" emerged. Tehran's backing of Shiite militias in the Middle East has also come under fire. 

Iran is a religious country whose supreme spiritual leader is more powerful than the elected president. Iran also adopts competitive elections and has more open expression of public opinion than other Middle Eastern countries. Before the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s, the Pahlavi dynasty of the country promoted a certain degree of Westernization in the nation's social lives under a dictatorship. Later Iran became the West's number one enemy in the Middle East. Iran's relations with Sunni-dominated Arab countries are tense. 

Any sign of turmoil in Iran makes the Western world happy. Although chaos in a few Middle Eastern countries brings no tangible benefits to the West, when Western nations see a country like Iran falling into turbulence, they are glad.

Iran has multiparty elections and its resilience to street protests is stronger than that of other Middle East countries. But as a religious authoritarian country antagonistic to the West, social unrest can greatly impact the entire country. 

Generally speaking, most non-Western countries have different degrees of authoritarianism. When large street protests occur, they challenge stability. For non-Western governments, efficient communication with their public at such a time is usually fraught with difficulty. Non-Western nations must first of all concentrate on improving their people's living standards. While making their own society into a community of common interests, the government should also make it into a community of common thoughts and values. Facing difficulties, their society should have the ability to form a consensus. They must also be resilient when it comes to unexpected events and accidents. No matter how well a country takes care of all kinds of interests and demands during its development, some people will always be dissatisfied and that can lead to regional and even nationwide turbulence. 

Western nations often jointly support unrest in certain non-Western countries. With a lack of self-confidence in politics, those developing countries facing protests are easily caught up in chaos. 

But the government systems of this world are not up to the West to decide. Each country's history, culture, economy and social development differs from another. The one-size-fits-all Western political standard will only create blood and pain and is not in the interests of the general public in developing countries.