December 28, 2009

Ashura Demonstrations

This is what Tehran looked like over the weekend during Ashura.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei have had to endure this now for six months. How much resistance can a government withstand? This can't continue. One side or another is going to lose.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2009 12:34 AM
From what I have been reading, and I can not vouch for it, it seems that the security forces are concentrating now on Tehran and Qom while leaving outlying cities to the protesters. There was also this posted on the Internet that appears to be some sort of organized "armed resistance" declaration but it looks like possibly some faction of the Army has decided to throw its lot with the people. If, indeed, it is true.

It is hard to make out these days what is true though the link above carries a link at the end to the original Farsi.
Posted by: crosspatch at December 28, 2009 2:18 am
The economy is a mess, the regime will have to work hard to stop the social discontent feeding into the political one. Though they should get relief from their demographics in the next decade as the number of new entries in the labor market should start steadily declining. If Ahmadinejad goes forward with his subsidies reform he will give the opposition another card by his own hands. But he has to do it. The oil market may soon come under tremendous pressure if Iraq ramps up its own oil production as planned. Then there is shale gas and there is apparently a massive glut on the gas market already, which is important for the regime as they were betting a lot on natural gas.
Posted by: Nobody at December 28, 2009 3:34 am
I thing the regime's days are numbered, and by that I mean it won't last beyond 2010. If you watch the videos coming out of Iran, you'll notice that it's no longer mostly students protesting, but middle aged people as well. I'm not convinced that a draconian crackdown would end this; it might might add fuel to the fire. The protesters are setting baseej offices on fire and beating police and baseejis. We never saw this before, not even close. This isn't about the election anymore, it's bigger than that. This is directed against the entire system, starting at the top with Khamanei.

Other people have argued that another revolution could end up in a different type of dictatorship. I'm not sure if that is accurate, either. Iranians are plugged into the world and want freedom. I think they've learned their lesson when it comes to oppressive regimes. I think we are witnessing the first truly popular pro-liberal democracy revolution EVER in the Middle East. That it's happening in a pivotal state like Iran is all the more heartening.

And as all of you on this site are aware, a moderated Iran will help to change the face of the Middle East in a positive way.
Posted by: semite5000 at December 28, 2009 7:52 am
Here's food for thought...notice that
these guys now demonstrating in these
new clips posted by Totten
and using their cell phone cameras are
no longer covering their faces. they seem also
unconcerned that their faces appear all
over the world to anyone using the internet,
including the Teheran government. I'd call that progress in their favor.
Technical note: In order to avoid have your
keystrokes hidden by the ad just to the
right of the white comment space,
keep an eye out and click the "Enter"
key to drop down a line, and continue.
Presented to you here by a technophobe.
Posted by: Hrothgar at December 28, 2009 8:06 am
Alas, when stalin rules the people lose! And, it's made worse by Obama. Who is behaving exactly like FDR did with stalin. I'll guess the people get screwed.
Posted by: Carol Herman at December 28, 2009 10:35 am

"In order to avoid have your keystrokes hidden by the ad just to the right of the white comment space"

I don't have that problem. Which browser are you using?
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2009 11:28 am
....hello, Michael Totten...I'm using
Firefox's "private mode"...don't ask me to
explain what that does inside the gut of the
computer....but I've permitted cookies,
including third party cookies. As I type
this, the letters after "usi,ask, gut, cookie,t,
cookie, t, gut (again) are hidden under
the black and orange ad.."Lebanon, Who
I use an HP Pavilion desktop with Windows 7
Home Premium 32 bit system.

The white blank space appears again
on the right side of that columnar
(....a left wing conspiracy?)
In other words, the black and orange ad is bisecting the white space reserved for
Posted by: Hrothgar at December 28, 2009 4:18 pm
...but, now I see that the white space below that black and orange ad is free, no more
ads underneath happens that whenever I
send a comment that ad is right there
blocking things....the black portion
ends just between the lines ending with"
"that" and "there".
Posted by: Hrothgar at December 28, 2009 4:23 pm
...and now, the white space is completely free.A blue border appears between the lines for "Name" and "Mail".
Posted by: Hrothgar at December 28, 2009 4:26 pm
...this ex USAF radar intercept controller has had it with consumer electronics. When they're good, they're very, very good...when their bad, they're horrid..

(apologies to Lewis Carroll, or whoever...)
Posted by: Hrothgar at December 28, 2009 4:30 pm

I've got need to go any further...waste no more time...the problem appears only when I pivot my 22" monitor screen to the "portrait position" ....when the screen is in the conventional "landscape" position, everything spreads out to the proper relationships. I use the upright or portrait position for reading text columns.....saves scrolling ....

....sorry I didn't think of this earlier. This is the stuff the marketers don't tell us feckless consumers...or webmasters.
Posted by: Hrothgar at December 28, 2009 4:43 pm's a link...

"Advantages of Portrait and Pivoting Monitors for Desktop Publishing
Sitting for a Portrait Can Improve Your View

By Jacci Howard Bear, Guide"
Posted by: Hrothgar at December 28, 2009 4:49 pm
You know, they don't really seem as scared as they are supposed to be :o

I get the impression that the IRI doesn't really have the "police state" apparatus that North Korea or the former USSR had in place to deal with unrest. They seem to rely almost entirely on the Basij, and if that's insufficient I think the IRI is in big trouble.
Posted by: Craig at December 29, 2009 1:03 am
Idealism is largely a preoccupation of the young and energetic. But economics, especially a serious economic downturn, affects every generation; hence the grayhaired demonstrators. Longterm mismanagement of market forces may do for the Iranian revolution what even large scale youthful zeal can't achieve. Not that support from sympathetic outside forces wouldn't help (Hint.)

Unfortunately, from what I've read over recent years, trying to head the Iranian resistance in one direction is like trying to herd cats, with monarchists, islamists and free market proponents all tripping over each other instead of clearing the way for united action.
Posted by: Paul S. at December 29, 2009 1:45 am
Carol Herman, do you think that FDR had a war to win might have influenced his relationship with Stalin? Just maybe?

Yalta would be worth discussing as the general consensus is that FDR was, and subsequent events proved, was near death.

Your simplistic statements are, well, simplistic, though they may serve your agenda.
Posted by: Ron Snyder at December 29, 2009 4:15 am
This can't continue. One side or another is going to lose.

Just because one side or another is going to "win", like in everything, doesn't mean this can't continue. It can. And it will!
Posted by: glasnost at December 29, 2009 5:55 am
Why do western governments still recognise the Iranian regime as the government of Iran?

They have abandoned the Shah, why not abandon them?
Posted by: Andrew Brehm at December 29, 2009 8:16 am
Much as I'd like to see the protesters 'win', all the cards are really with the government - the laws, the weapons, army and militia (read that 'organization'), etc. It would have to get a lot worse before it got better, if you know what I mean.
Posted by: Kummin at December 29, 2009 10:25 am
Hello, Andrew Brehm...

I'm with you 100%. I'm even for a bit more than isolation of all Islamic threats.

But that's not feasible as there will be too many exceptions where a country finds it useful to maintain a consulate or even an embassy there in order to have some sources locally cultivated in their favor. The French, Russians and Chinese want mutual trade in certain raw materials, energy-materiel...each has something the other needs.

Voting in the United Nations seems out of the question on this issue. The blocs, third world, mostly, firmed up against us by Arabic interests, Russian interests, and of course the Chinese will rarely go in our favor....then only to gain temporary leverage over America.

This, in sum, seems to me to be a whack-a-mole situation, or a herding of squirrels (they're quicker, more erratic than cats..right?) situation where we simply cannot organize any leak proof containment. Add to that the temporary tenure of the individual personalities in power and we have too much fluidity.

So we go on decade after decade doing what seems at any particular time to be in our best interests, keeping in mind all of these shifting and shifty variables. Look at our present inexperienced administration. They're just grasping around, opportunistically.

Hence, I like to quote George Washington's caution about avoiding "foreign entanglements".

We can trade with those who're reliable, then let all of those remaining go chase flying donuts, for all I care. Easier said than done.
Posted by: Hrothgar at December 29, 2009 11:27 am
This "Green" movement will only have a chance to succeed if it can persuade elements in the police, Basij and Sepah that they too would have a future in a restructured version of the Islamic Republic (or whatever the protest movement imagines might take its place) -- because without that, these people (the security forces), and they are legion, will fight to the death and there will be a bloodbath.

So far the regime's security forces have acted with relative restraint -- amazing though that sounds. Don't forget these people took 1 million dead and wounded in the Iran-Iraq war and in 1988 (when no less than Mir Hoseein Mousavi was PM) executed as many as 30,000 leftist political prisoners. The gloves are not even close to being taken off.

I honestly think that you are overstating the case here Mike: a few riots, some burned motorbikes/jeeps and a torched police section house look extremely dramatic when filmed on a Nokia N-95 and slung on Youtube, but they don't amount to a great deal in strategic terms.

If there were a general strike that would be something, if the oil industry shut down that would be something, if sections of the security forces mutinied that would be something, but there is no sign of anything like this so far.

Also, the west's priotities seems to be threefold: stabilise Afghanistan, stabilise Iraq and edal with the Iranian nuclear issue. This means they will have to adopt a Realpolitik approach, and that meaqns dealing with the regime, whether we like it or not.

The other thing to remember is that even a moderated Iran will, I believe, under no circumstances drop what is seen as the nation's natural right to nuclear energy -- and one might also easily assume -- the threshold capability for a nuclear weapon.

This grand idea was started under the Shah and personally I don't know of a single Iranian, green, black, or of any other hue that would accept the idea that Iran cannot even have civilian nuclear power.... or that it should be targeted by Israeli nuclear weapons (as it most certainly is) and not have any deterrent capability.
Posted by: Microraptor at December 29, 2009 2:49 pm

I mostly agree, but there are a few things you might want to consider. Revolutions tend to build. Ongoing general strikes come nearer the end than the beginning, so the fact that we haven't seen that yet doesn't mean anything except that we haven't seen it yet. Remember how almost everyone thought the Shah's regime would survive until the last second?

Who knows? This regime might last another decade. I doubt it, however, and won't be surprised if it's gone sometime next year.

No one will care if Iran pursues nuclear energy after the Khomeinist regime is either gone or reformed, and few would really mind that much if a democratic Iran had nuclear weapons. I'd prefer no new country acquire nuclear weapons, not even New Zealand, but I won't lose any sleep if Iranian liberals and moderates build them.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 29, 2009 3:24 pm
Classic microraptor - apologize for the thugs and blame it on da Jooos.

Iran needs nukes to deter *Israel*?!?!?! Give me a f*cking break. Everyone in the ME whether they admit it or not knows that it's Israel's nukes that are strictly for deterrence. When has any Arab country ever taken an action based on a belief that Israel might use nukes aggressively? But they're soiling their pants at the prospect of Iran going nuclear, or to be more precise the mullahs, a distinction that 'raptor deliberately obscures. If Israel were ever going to use nukes aggressively they'd be using them now while they still have a monopoly in the region.

"... or that it should be targeted by Israeli nuclear weapons (as it most certainly is)..."

Which country is threatening to wipe the other off the face of the earth? And don't give me that "it was just a prediction" baloney either.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at December 29, 2009 11:07 pm
Gary Rosen (sigh) where in my post have I apologised for the IRI regime's thugs? Where in my post have I blamed anything on the Jews? (that's the correct spelling, by the way).

You are truly the most stupid, one track poster to frequent this site. All you ever write are paranoid rants that everyone who you don't agree with is an anti-semite.

In fact you seem to think that this blog is a sort of neo-con gang hut, with yourself as self appointed cyber-doorman. Don't you have some homework to get on with, for when special school starts up again in January?

By the way, you forgot to mention that the odious Nasrallah apparently has some Israeli body parts. But luckily I've spared you the effort.
Posted by: Microraptor at December 30, 2009 10:55 am
"where in my post have I apologised for the IRI regime's thugs?"

I guess you figured no one would bother to go back and read what you wrote:

"So far the regime's security forces have acted with relative restraint"

Yes, my post contained some vitriol but it also made substantive points about Israeli vs. Iranian nuclear intentions that you won't answer.

"By the way, you forgot to mention that the odious Nasrallah apparently has some Israeli body parts. But luckily I've spared you the effort."

Some people think that this is indicative of what Israel is up against, but you seem to think it's quite a source of amusement. I'm not surprised. Not surprised at all.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at December 31, 2009 12:42 am
Well Gary, fair enough if you see it like that.... but I don't think that the body parts boasts are funny at all. It's all completely macabre.

The reason that the Hezbollah hold on to bits of dead human seems to be logical from their point of view, in that they can extract concessions from the Israelis who have in the past been willing to trade live prisoners for the corpses or even fragments of corpses of IDF personnel.

What I find funny -- although not really "ha ha" funny cos it's all too grim -- is the way your posts at one time seemed to continuously refer back to this unsavoury aspect even when people were talking about something completely different.

But that's by the by..... Anyway, I have to reject your reading of my comment that the regime is acting with "relative restraint" as in some way condoning the behaviour of these criminals. What I was trying to say was that if you think the brutality we've witnessed so far is the worst this regime can do, you ain't seen nothing yet. That is not cos I think it's a good thing that the Basij/Sepah cen get even more brutal -- far from it.

In terms of Iran's nuclear aspirations vs Israel's nuclear programme several things can be said here. The Iranian nuclear programme dates back to the time of the Shah, the US backed "Atoms for Peace" programme and is something that I think would carry on regardless of what sort of government or regime was/is/is going to be in power in Tehran. It's a national strategic project -- not an especially IRI one. INdeed back int he day I htink Iran, Israel and South Africa all shared knowledge in this field.

Secondly, the Israeli nuclear weapons programme clearly predates Ahmedinejad's idiotic musings on the Holocaust. I believe that the Israeli nuclear weapons are conceived of as a deterrent -- but I also think that the Mullah's seek these weapons for their deterrent value. Everything this regime does seems to be motivated by one over-riding goal: regime survival at any cost.

It might feel more satisfying to portray all these people as crazed, Millinnerian Islamo-Fascists bent on global domination and all members of a secret death cult. But in fact they seem to be practitioners of the coldest type of Realpolitik.

Afterall, if the world is going to end next Thursday afternoon why BOTHER with long-term strategic weapons programmes, or developing satellites or setting up power stations for when the oil runs out -- or even sending your kids to university. Who cares when we're all going to stare into the face of God any minute now?

I don't believe that such people should have The Bomb -- but neither do I think that if after all these years of trying and billions of dollars expended -- that were they to develop such a capability they would actually use it on a suicidal pre-emptive strike against Israel. That would spell the end of the IRI regime and probably Iran as a place where people exist. It would also destroy their beloved Al Qods and kill lots of the Palestinians the IRI govt. professes to love so much.

Right now staying in power by all means necessary is all that these gangsters care about. But by developing this nuclear track they present the world with a dilemma: if the world cuts a nuclear deal with the regime, the world powers effectively have to recognise the legitimacy of the regime in order for that nuclear deal to have any meaning.

Which could be seen as selling the protestors down the river.

It's a very tricky situation.

Anyway, G, have a Happy New Year.... we can cross cyber-swords once again in 2010.

All the Best,

Microraptor (db)
Posted by: Microraptor at December 31, 2009 2:26 am
Microraptor, if I had to go one way or the other I would agree with you and say the current leaders of Iran are *not* so crazy that they would start a destructive war once they get nuclear weapons. But I'm not sure I would bet a lot of money against it, either. Where I disagree is when you say they are acquiring these weapons merely for "deterrence" even if they do not plan on using them immediately. The Iranian regime in my view has been a very malevolent, destabilizing force in the Mideast and possession of nukes can only increase their leverage and ability to cause mischief.

As for the "body parts" stuff, I have used it mostly as an antidote to the suggestions from some people here that Hezbollah is some kind of reasonable force we can engage with. They may represent a lot of people in Lebanon but the leadership, i. e. Nasrallah, is clearly deranged. It is not just that they have the body parts (or "remains" as they may be called more delicately) or even that they are using them to bargain with Israel, but that they openly boast about that I believe puts them far beyond the pale (a somewhat ironic historical reference).

Happy New Year to you too.

- Gary
Posted by: Gary Rosen at December 31, 2009 11:25 pm
Two questions:

1) Someone more familiar with Iranian politics can probably tell me which side these particular people support. I read that the state sponsored rallies are also violent.

2) I'm wondering if the Taliban attacks on Ashura pilgrims in Karachi Pakistan will tend to rally support for the regime?
Posted by: Jimmy Jawbone at January 1, 2010 6:13 am
Re the state sponsored demonstrations, I found this video, supposedly filmed by an opposition cameraman:

It supposely shows how little support the regime can garner. Can the cameraman/narrator really be saying "death to Khomeini"?
Posted by: Jimmy Jawbone at January 1, 2010 7:43 am
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