Thursday, June 18, 2009

Defiance in the Face of Crackdown

Iranians continue protesting against the Ahmadinejad regime's crackdown against protesters who contest the election results. Human rights groups note that hundreds have been arrested. Ahmadinejad's thugs must think that arresting enough of the leaders will sap the strength of the protesters or cow those who might otherwise protest into going home.

That hasn't turned out to be the case, in part because of the way the Iranians are using technologies like Twitter to coordinate their activities. As hard as the regime has tried to curtail access, the protesters have managed to continue using the Internet as a conduit for their activities.

This video shows the demonstrations ongoing yesterday:

Massive rallies show that the Iranian people aren't going to tolerate Ahmadinejad's efforts to predetermine the outcome of the election.

The Iranian legislature is investigating hundreds of complaints about election fraud in last week's election. It's a little late for that, especially when Ayatollah Khamenei vouched for the results, and given that he's the official spokesman for Allah on earth, if the vote results turn out to be any different, his credibility is shot (as it should be in any event). He's lost his legitimacy, which means that in the eyes of many Iranians, there can be no return to the mullahocracy.

Michael Totten deflates one of the media memes, which was that Ahmadinejad's base was in the rural areas. An analysis of his support shows the opposite; it was strongest in urban areas, which makes the current demonstrations all the more startling. They're happening in his areas of strongest support.
This strange meme in many media reports that Ahmadinejad has a “base” of support in the countryside is not only wrong, it’s backwards. The uprising we’re all watching on YouTube is taking place inside Ahmadinejad’s “strongholds,” such as they are.

Ahmadinejad is a “conservative” in the relative sense of the word, as he resists any and all reform of the 1979 revolution. He is not, however, a conservative in the traditional sense. Khomeinism and radical Islamism are 20th Century totalitarian ideologies. Traditional village people, conservative as they may be, have little use for them.
Mousavi isn't a reformer in the traditional sense either. People may have latched on to his campaign and the demonstrations because of their disapproval of Ahmadinejad, but the kind of reform Mousavi would bring doesn't mean the end of Iran's nuclear weapons programs, support for international terrorism, or the other aspects of foreign policy that cause conflict throughout the region.

Meanwhile, Totten also warns that we should brace for more violence, and he's surprised that there hasn't been more to date. I concur on that. It is surprising, but this could be simply the deep breath before the plunge. Neither side can back down now, and there is little common ground when the elections are seen as illegitimate by a significant portion of the population.

One thing that is all too noticeable in all the videos coming out of Iran is just how many people are using digital cameras and video to capture the events; many have found their way online. It's showing that the technologies are being used by both sides to get their message out.

Daled Amos makes a good point about Twitter and other social networking sites that are proffering news. Many of them turn out to be unsubstantiated rumors, so the usual skepticism should apply. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. However, expecting the traditional media outlets to get news reports is also dubious given that their movements are being restricted by Ahmadinejad as he tried to secure his power and control.

Demonstrations against Ahmadinejad continue around the world, including here in the NYC metro area. This is video of demonstrators at New York's Union Square:

Khamenei is throwing down the gauntlet. It may happen as soon as tomorrow if Mousavi and his supporters don't back down.

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