Same topic, new information.
Iran is descending into chaos, and the only people who seem to be keeping tabs on it are online. Forget about “the most trusted name in news“- they’re busy wanking themselves over the vital issue of Dan-Quayle-in-drag versus David Letterman. The only “real” news network spending any time on these events is the BBC.
For those of you not paying attention, a fundamental shift has taken place in world events: a full-scale cyber war is taking place. On one side is what passes for the Iranian government these days. On the other is a motley and diverse group of basement dwellers with internet access. So far, the advantage is with the Iranian government- due largely to the mainstream media’s apparent policy of collusion-by-neglect.
An explanation is probably in order. The Iranian government has been doing its utmost to block out all “unofficial” information traffic INTO Iran. They honestly don’t care what the rest of the world knows or thinks- they just want to keep the wool pulled firmly over the eyes of their own people. To that end, they have been trying to block BBC Persia, internet and phone communications, and Twitter. Even though it causes me physical pain to admit this, Twitter has emerged as a vital tool for the protesters in Iran to spread information about the protests and other news- as well as keeping interested parties outside Iran up to date. For the past three days, several people personally involved in the protests have been giving the world real-time updates on the situation on the ground in Iran. Huge amounts of this information (sent via Twitter) has later been confirmed by more formal sources (especially the BBC). Sadly, the US media outlets have apparently chosen to respond with a collective yawn.
Iran has made official requests to Twitter to stop operations in their territory, and were rebuffed. The government ordered their militia thugs to start attacking and detaining everyone found with a cell phone or other mobile device, and the dormitories at Tehran’s universities were raided repeatedly by police and militia member searching for satellite dishes and computers. Government agents have definitely been using Twitter feeds to hunt down and attack protesters using the service.
In response, some of the more reliable and accurate protester-correspondents in Iran asked for help in shutting down the government’s websites. A great many of the usual suspects here in the US loaded up on cheesy-poofs and Mountain Dew, then typed into action. Other people spent their time, energy, and money setting up proxy servers for the protesters to use. This has allowed (and is still allowing) protesters to communicate inside Iran and to pass information to the rest of the world.
Of course, most people in this country still have no idea what has been happening in Iran. Here is a capsule description by a poster named Tatsuma on FARK.com:
Suppression of Dissent – The Players
Currently, there are either two or three groups who are suppressing the students on the ground that you’ll read about throughout this thread:
1. The Basij
2. Ansar Hizbullah (which I will refer to as Ansar)
3. Lebanese Hizbullah (Unconfirmed but highly probable. Many different independent reports and video point that way. Even in the last hours other independent twitter feeds have declared witnessing thugs beating on people while shouting in Arabic; I will refer to them as Hizbullah)
– The Basij are your regular paramilitary organization. They are the armed hand of the clerics. The Basij are a legal group, officially a student union, and are legally under direct orders of the Revolutionary Guard. Their main raison d’être is to quell dissent. They are the ones who go and crack skulls, force people to participate in pro-regime demonstrations, and generally try to stop any demonstrations from even starting. They are located throughout the country, in every mosque, every university, every social club you can think of. They function in a way very similar to the brownshirts.
They were the ones who first started the crackdown after the election, but it wasn’t enough. While they are violent and repressive, they are still Persian and attacking fellow citizens. A beating is one thing, mass killings another.
– Another group was working with them, whose members are even more extreme, is Ansar. There is a lot of cross-membership between the Basij and Ansar, though not all are members of the other group and vice-versa. The vast majority of Ansar are Persians (either Basij or ex-military), though a lot of Arab recruits come from Lebanon and train with them under supervision of the Revolutionary Guard. They are not functioning under a legal umbrella, they are considered a vigilante group, but they pledge loyalty directly to the Supreme Leader and most people believe that they are under his control. They are currently helping the Basij to control the riots, but due to the fact that they are Persians and in lower numbers than the Basij, they are not that active.
– (the following paragraph includes some speculation based on reports from ground zero) Hizbullah flew in a lot of their members in Iran, most likely a good deal even before the elections in case there were trouble. They are the ones who speak Arabs and are unleashing the biggest level of violence on the Persians so far. Another wave arrived recently and there is chatter that yet another wave of Hizbullah reinforcements are coming in from Lebanon as we speak. According to Iranians on the ground, they are the ones riding motorcycles, beating men women and children indiscriminately and firing live ammunitions at students.
The Lebanese Hizbullah is a direct offshoot (and under direct control) of the Iranian Hizbullah (itself under direct control of the Supreme Leader) and cooperates closely with Ansar though Ansar occupies itself only with Iran’s domestic policies, while Hizbullah occupies itself only with Iran’s foreign policy unless there is a crisis like right now. However, Hizbullah has been called to stop violent riots in Iran in the past.
What will happen
Unless the army decides to intervene in the favor of the Council and to stop the early beginnings of the new Revolution, Ansar & Hizbullah members will be the ones doing the brunt of the killing and repression with Basij as a support while also protecting government buildings and try to do crowd control. The police seems to have for the most part disbanded in centers like Tehran according to all reports, including international media. If the police decides to come back, they will focus less on protection and crowd control, so the Basij will start to crack more skulls).
Currently, this is what is happening.
note: I built this through both articles and twitter feeds, so I do not claim that this is a 100% factually correct representation of reality, but this is the general narrative.
– When the first spontaneous riots erupted, the first wave the Iranian Riot Police was called in, and short after the Basij also took the scene. The RP concentrated mostly around public buildings and streets while the Basij took position around student groups, especiallly universities.
– As things got more out of hand, more and more Basij troops were called in, as the police started dispersing. The riot police are less inclined (or, rather I should say the Basij are more inclined) to use violence so they retreated and leaving the place to the Basij.
– With the second wave of Basij also came Ansar Hizbullah members. This is the point where firearms started being used. There are reports of a few murders but it was mostly fired in the air or on walls in order to scare away protesters in University dorms.
– It’s around the time of the second wave that the first reports and videos of an important number of non-Persian thugs shouting in Arabic and violently beating people with chains, clubs and electric batons (similar to cattle prods). The end of the second wave came right before the beginning of the current manifestation. Things were getting quieter with only sporadic reports of dissenters being assaulted. Important to note: at this time. the Supreme Leader has authorized these militias to use live ammunition against the crowd if things get out of hand (source: BBC)
– This brings us to the third wave, which just began around 12:30PM for those of us on the East Coast. According to all reports, plainclothes militia have opened fire on civilians protesting peacefully.
Right now, there is chaos in the streets, reports of fighting all over Tehran, plenty of pictures of people shot, some to death. Things are ugly and this is spreading in other cities as well. There is a major crackdown on students, especially those with connections to the outside world going on right now. Some people report that the students are fighting back in some areas. Telephones are being bugged and everyone twittering and sending videos outside of Iran are being rounded up.
Violent and murderous repression has started. At least a twenty people have been killed so far. Things will spiral down fast, and very soon.
– The people are fighting back. First, they took over and burned down a Basij base, killing its commander. Then, they attacked the Basij HQ with molotov cocktails and there are reports of Basij beaten to death as well.
Right now, most people have gone to sleep and there is a major manifestation tomorrow as well, including a general strike all over Iran. This is the end of the third wave.
– Major events during the third wave: Basij bases have been attacked, and the Basij HQ has been burned to the ground. A Basij shot a girl in the face in front of their HQ, at which point a policeman went to confront them. The Basij beat the policeman, at which point students stormed the compound, throwing molotov cocktails, burning it to the ground. This is big.
For further information on the Basij, Global Security has a good article about the history of the Basij.
CNN has a good article where eyewitnesses describe the current violence unleashed by the Basij here
Here is another good article from GS again giving more background information on the ruthless Ansar thugs.
So, what can you do about this? Good question. How about talking about it? You know- passing along information of some importance to US National Security to the rank and file people in this country. Since most of them don’t get any decent information from the regular media, a lot of Americans have no idea anything important is happening. Wake them up! This is a textbook example of the Four Boxes in operation. The people in Iran have tried the first three boxes, and their government has responded with violence. The protesters have already struck back against the Basij, and the die has now been cast. Blood has been spilled, and hundreds of thousands of people in Iran are beginning to strike back. Thousands of people in the 101st Global Internet Brigade (the Fightin’ Keyboardists!) are lending what support they can, but the curious refusal of the American media outlets (especially CNN) to give this story the attention it deserves borders on criminal neglect. Something important and wonderful is happening, but the reports of this event are being smothered in a blanket of “meh“!
Current status: Waxing wrothful
Current music: Learning to Fly by Pink Floyd