Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Settle In For the Long Haul

The situation in Iran is going to continue developing and ebb and flow over the next few weeks and months. The Iranian revolution in 1979 didn't occur overnight. It flowed and ebbed as power struggles occurred behind the scenes and events transpired over a series of months. We should not expect this to be resolved quickly, and the bloodshed seen thus far may be an indicator of things to come.

The regime will continue doing all it can to crush the opposition. They're digging in their heels, including arresting more foreign nationals. Ahmadinejad's thugs have been arresting foreign nationals for some time, including Roxana Saberi and the Alaei brothers, but this is the first sign that they're going after foreign nationals since the election was disputed.

Chief among those that are purportedly being held by the Iranians are those with British passports since the Iranians blame them for the unrest:
Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ezhei told reporters that some with links to the West and Israel had planned bombings ahead of the June 12 presidential election, the government-funded Press TV reported Wednesday.

"England is among the countries that fan the flames with their heavy propaganda, which is against all diplomatic norms," the intelligence minister was quoted in the semi-official Fars news agency. "And the BBC Farsi has also played a major role. Also, a number of people carrying British passports have played a role in the recent disturbances."

The British Foreign Office said it was looking into the allegations.

"We have seen reports of the arrest of British nationals in Iran," the Foreign Office said. "Consular colleagues and the embassy in Tehran are making enquiries."
This comes from a regime that has no qualms about sending kids into mine fields during the Iran-Iraq war to blow up mines so that tanks and men with guns could fight. This is from the same regime that has no problem supporting international terrorism, including Hamas and Hizbullah, both of which care nothing for the lives of anyone who get in their way.

Pro-regime demonstrations take to the usual pastiche of burning American flags, but this time they throw in British flags for good measure. They also held demonstrations outside the former US embassy in Tehran.

Indeed, Iranians are dying for change, and some in the US are protesting against the Administration's lackluster response to the situation in Iran.

There are ongoing clashes being reported outside the Iranian Parliament building. Mousavi is reportedly under 24-hour watch by Ahmadinejad's thugs, and Mousavi's wife says that the country is under martial law.

Israel has a significant Iranian Jewish population as the country expelled the Jews following the 1948 War of Independence. They're following the situation closely and want to see the regime fall.
The show of support was organized by Kamal Penhasi, the Iranian-born editor of Shahyad, the only Persian-language magazine published in Israel. "We speak from the throats of the entire Iranian people, whose voices are being silenced by the censorship of the regime that is killing people on the streets …we are part of the Iranian people and want to tell them we are with them. Enough of this regime; the Iranian people deserve their freedom," he said at the demonstration.

Penhasi left Iran shortly after the Islamic Revolution. "I saw what happened in 1979; today's events remind me of that revolution," he said. "This is the great spark in the direction of the big revolution." Penhasi says the regime likes to show that it is strong, but in reality it is crumbling from within. "The people of Iran want their freedom and have taken to the streets to prove it." The young generation in Iran knows exactly what's happening in the outside world, they view Israel as a second paradise on Earth after the U.S. in terms of freedom, he says. Acknowledging that "30 years of brainwashing" have damaged Iranians' sympathy to Israel, Penhasi still believes it's there.
The Jersualem Post reports that the unrest may undermine the regime's ability to export its brand of Islam elsewhere, which is good news since its brand is pretty much associated with Hamas and Hizbullah. It may also impact Iran's nuclear weapons program, although I think that as being more farfetched since not even Mousavi was opposed to Iran obtaining nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

Barry Rubin notes that there is a difference between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad that should be taken into consideration.
Indeed, to listen to what the Obama administration says—though it has moved up its rhetoric one step in recent days—there is some truth to that assertion. Yet it is foolish indeed for anyone to hope for that outcome.

What is the greater danger:

Iran has a less fanatical and adventurous faction in charge. It continues some of its problematic policies but is more cautious, less prone to risk-taking, devotes fewer resources to spreading revolution, and is more eager to avoid war.


Power being in the hands of a group determined to become the region’s dominant power, eager to use money, subversion, and even nuclear weapons to do so no matter what the consequences.

I’ll choose the first alternative.
Even if it is only a matter of degree, Mousavi would likely be more cautious and less likely to agitate for violence and war against the West - a slightly less confrontational stance than Ahmadinejad. I think there was little difference between the two before the election, but now that the Ahmadinejad and his minions are cracking down in the way of stealing the election, there's no telling the position that Mousavi would take going forward. His positions have been overtaken by events and the Iranian people would not tolerate the mullahs running things as they have for 30 years.

Have cracks appeared in the Guardian Council with overt support for demonstrations against Ahamdinejad? Hot Air has a photo purportedly of mullahs joining in with marching demonstrators. That assumes that this is indeed a photo of demonstrators against Ahmadinejad. It could also be mullahs marching in support of Ahmadinejad. In any case, we've got the drawing of lines and the mullahs showing their support overtly. They're taking sides.

Mousavi's still in it, but another of the four candidates on the ballot is stepping back, rather than be seen as standing with the opposition.
Mohsen Rezaei, a former Revolutionary Guards commander, officially captured less than 2 percent of the vote in the disputed election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the landslide winner over his nearest challenger, moderate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mousavi, Rezaei and reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi alleged widespread vote-rigging immediately after the election, sparking large-scale protests.

In withdrawing his complaint to the Guardian Council, which oversees Iran's elections, Rezaei reportedly cited national security as his reason, The Wall Street Journal said.
He's as much a thug as Ahmadinejad, and it shows the extent to which the Guardian Council chooses people to run for President that hew closely to its own interests.

It's that Ahmadinejad threw the election that got people to realize just how the Guardian Council truly controls matters and how Ahmadinejad has ripped the veneer of legitimacy from what were really show elections.

There are multiple reports coming in that Ahmadinejad's thugs have massacred people in Tehran. Persian Kitty, HuffPo, CNN, and other news outlets are reporting similar circumstances. No word on numbers of people murdered by the regime, but expect video and photos to get leaked at some point.

The regime's thugs in uniform opened fire on the crowds.
Hundreds of protesters clashed with waves of riot police and paramilitary militia in Tehran on Wednesday, witnesses said, as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted the authorities would not yield to pressure from opponents demanding a new election following allegations of electoral fraud.

It was impossible to confirm first-hand the extent of the new violence in the capital because of draconian new press restrictions on coverage of the post-election mayhem. But the witnesses reached by telephone said the confrontation, outside the national Parliament building, was bloody, with police using live ammunition.

Defying government warnings, the witnesses said that hundreds, if not thousands of protesters, had attempted to gather in front of the parliament on Baharestan Square. They were met with riot police and paramilitary militia, who struck at them with truncheons, tear gas, and guns. One witness said he saw a 19-year-old woman shot in the neck.
The Times is also reporting that Mousavi's distancing himself from the demonstrators engaging in today's actions, saying that this wasn't one of his officially sanctioned demonstrations.

A troubling email from Iran, as posted at Normblog. In the email, the poster claims that more than 150 were killed in the protests over the weekend, and the true numbers are being withheld by the regime to thwart bigger protests. The dead and injured are not being brought to regular hospitals, but to military hospitals so that the numbers can be sanitized.
In fact several independent sources in Tehran hospitals and clinical centres have counted the dead from Saturday at over 150; yes more than 150. Doctors have been silenced from speaking about it. In fact when less than a week before (16 June) the doctors and nurses of Rasul Hospital in west Tehran witnessed 8 killed and 28 wounded from the day's demonstration, in their hospital, they came out on the street to inform people.

But on Bloody Saturday, the situation was totally different after Khamenei's command to slaughter demonstrators. I have a report just from one hospital not so far from my living place... In this hospital alone doctors received 20 dead and many other wounded. Security forces went to all the hospitals to which people themselves had brought the bodies, to gather all the wounded and dead; when paramilitary and military forces gathered the bodies, they sent them directly to military hospitals; they transmitted these bodies to their own centres too. In an unbelievable event in the hospital, of which I have a report, security forces have shot and killed the wounded persons before transmitting them. When doctors and nurses bacame mad and went out on the streets, they have opened fire on them too.
Read it all.

President Obama is reconsidering a State Department invitation extended to Iranian diplomats to attend US Embassy July 4th celebrations. There was no reason to extend the invites in the first place (as if they would show in any event), but reconsideration isn't sufficient. You would be consorting with an evil and illegitimate regime that is murdering its own citizens who are attempting to protest against a stolen election and the destruction of what feeble human rights they have under Islamic law in Iran.

Iranian press reports that the police identified and raided a headquarters for demonstrators. Of course, that location is the same as Mousavi's election headquarters. 1984 indeed.

Hot diggity dog. Obama rescinds invites to Iranian diplomats for 4th of July celebrations at US embassies around the world.

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