I think the government of Iran is losing its collective mind.
Specifically, I’m speaking of President Ahminadinnerjacket and Burrito Supreme Cumonme. They seem to be trying desperately to use the playbook from the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but they appear not to have noticed that they’re reading the script used by the Shah.
Among other smooth moves, the government has forbidden the families of those killed during the protests from holding funerals. They also ordered mosques to prohibit funeral services for the slain. This is a pretty serious departure from Shi’a doctrine, which might explain why a more senior Ayatollah appeared to refute the order by calling for a period of mourning for all the fallen. Shi’a Islam has a very significant place for martyrs, and the government there is probably trying to avoid renewed flare-ups of protests at each funeral. Note to the Supreme Nutbar and his midget sidekick: If you have to violate the tenets of your religion trying to save your theocracy, you’re doing it wrong.
Here’s another delightful tidbit from the Burrito Supreme and company. It seems a young man who was not part of the protests was shot and killed as he made his way home from school. It took his parents several days to find out what had happened and locate his body at a local morgue. When the family went to claim the body for burial, they were told they had to pay the equivalent of $3000.00 as a “bullet fee”. It turns out that the Iranian government doesn’t just murder innocents, it charges the parents a year’s income for the privilege of having their children shot by government thugs. Way to win those hearts and minds, fellas.
In other news, somebody managed to talk to a few of the people attacking the protesters. It seems the government has been offering the equivalent of $120.00 to unemployed folks from the hinterlands to come to Tehran and beat up their fellow citizens. The government puts them up at hostels in the south east of the city, then buses them in for the day’s festivities.
The news from Iran is pretty bleak today. The planned demonstrations were reportedly savagely attacked by police and Basij. Hundreds of people have allegedly been arrested, and there are unconfirmed reports of people with axes attacking protesters. Supposedly Mir Hossein Mousavi has also been arrested. These are all further signs of the government’s growing desperation, as are the extremely lame attempts to drag the US and UK into the fray. Iranian Air Farce jets conducted “maneuvers” over the Persian Gulf on Tuesday. Instead of the clashes the regime were presumably hoping for, they got a resounding yawn from the US 5th Fleet. The weak sauce attempts to provoke the British are also not working. Iran recalled their ambassador to London and expelled two British diplomats. The Brits pulled all their non-essential staff and families out of Iran and booted two Iranian diplomats out of the UK in exchange.
The government is in real trouble- regardless of whether or not they can succesfully put down the protests. In the first place, butchering or arresting thousands of young people will only create more martyrs- each of which will become a focus for further protests. In the second place, every time the government uses violence against the largely peaceful protesters, the senior clerics and other older survivors of the 1979 revolution grow ever more estranged from the government. These men lived through the Islamic Revolution, and they remember the excesses of the Shah and his regime. Many of those men are now mentally comparing the current government with the one they overthrew in 1979. It is worth noting, by the way, that the protesters are not calling for an end to the Islamic Republic. What they are calling for is the Republic to live up to its ideals. The protesters have been literally begging the Ayatollahs to intervene.
Here is a very good analysisof the tight spot the Iranian government has made for itself. Even if the Army and the Revolutinary Guard were to throw in their lot with the government and slaughter everyone on the streets (both fairly unlikely scenarios), the current government in Iran is probably doomed. There are several possible outcomes of the current unrest (in my opinion).
1- The hardliners in the government get shown the door by the more moderate clerics in Qom and the Revolution is a success. Ahminadinnerjacket goes to prison or into exile. A quorum or politburo of senior Ayatollahs take over the function of the Supreme Leader. Iran calms down internally, re-opens contact with the rest of the world, and things get slightly better for the average citizen. This would probably be the idea situation for Iran, and nearly ideal for the US. Western governments really have much more in common with Shi’a than with Sunni Islam. A less hostile Shi’ite Iran would be a much better partner for the West than the Sunni tyrants in Saudi Arabia.
2- The hardliners continue their crackdown until the Army decides they’ve had enough (remember that all of their senior leaders lived through the 1979 revolution, too) and sides with the protesters. If the Revolutionary Guard sits it out or joins them, the government gets tossed out on its ear and the military dictates a new constitution (similar to Turkey’s). Alternatively, the Guard sides with the government, and Iran disintegrates into full-fledged civil war. This would be very bad for everyone.
3- The Army helps the government put down the protests with extreme prejudice. Thousands of protesters are killed or arrested, the rest go underground. Simmering violence with flare-ups every 40 days or so (mourning for the slain in Shi’a goes on 3, 7, and 40-day intervals), sending Iran into the same chaotic mess Iraq was in immediately after the fall of Saddam. Long term prognosis is poor, possibly ending up with a partitioned Iran along ethnic lines (Persians, Azeris, Kurds, etc).
4. Nothing much changes. The government lacks the willingness to go full retard. The protesters continue to employ Ghandi-style civil disobedience against the government. Iran’s international standing, economy, and credit drop to the level of Serbia, and all of Iran’s enemies and neighbors take advantage of her weakness- especially Saudi Arabia. The Sunni kingdom has been exerting a lot of effort to isolate and marginalize Iran because Iran is Saudi Arabia’s only real rival for dominion in the region. Aside from the religious and ethnic differences (which are fairly significant), the economic and political rivalry between the two regional powers would probably result in a diminished Saudi kingdom.
Many of Iran’s neighbors are quietly hoping that the protesters are put down. They are afraid that a successful revolution in Iran would encourage their own abused citizenry to rise up against them. This is a valid concern on their part. China has the same problem, to a lesser degree.
These other regimes have another reason to worry about a successful revolution in Iran: the sudden emergence of a new player in the realm of geopolitical intrigue. I’m not talking about Iran, or any other nation. I refer to the hordes of Cheeto-munching basement dwellers who have individually taken it upon themselves to interfere in the internal strife of a soverign nation.
Here is a nice analysis 0f the situation from a commenter named Mr. Cabron on FARK.com:
Mr. Cabron: Now, I want to clarify that I was and am in favor of such passive actions but we are stepping close to some fairly dodgy ethical territory and we need to quantify it. So far the actions in this situation have been:
1. Active Data Gathering: It would be child’s play to obtain private e-mail accounts for Irani goverment official (Yahoo,Google) and hack these accounts. These could then be used to gather data as well as to agressively plant disinformation. This is an active espionage act and would be construed as an act of agression by the Irani gov. What the MSM and the international community would do is hard to say.
2. Active Propaganda: Using e-mail lists of all irani citizens, information packets (Tats’ summary,the torrent lists, videos of goverment abuse) could be prepared and spammed to all those accounts using spambots.
I am not sure what the US government would be legally required to do in those circumstances. It would be viscerally satisfying for Obama to piously declare that the US government has no control over private individuals on the internet (essentially the same claim Iran makes about Hizbulla/Hamas/ et al), but that would not change the fact that we are engaged in information warfare against a sovereign government. This represents a major shift in the calculus of politics to anyone paying attention. A bunch of individuals scattered geographically around the planet can have a significant effect on any government’s ability to control the flow of information- or even to effectively gather information.
Ordinary-looking people with computers and internet access have suddenly emerged as possible assets (or adversaries) in geopolitical machination.
Welcome to the future.
Current status: Bemused
Current music: Under Pressure by Queen