Free Markets, Free People

Iran: The Gauntlet Is Thrown – Power To The People

We may be getting ready to see a repressive regime underestimating the power of the people or we may be on the cusp of another Tiananmen Square.

Ayatollah Khamenei didn’t budge an inch in his speech today:

Addressing Friday prayers at Tehran University, the bearded septuagenarian offered no concessions to the millions of irate Iranians who have taken to the streets this week. Instead he issued an unmistakable warning to Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the defeated candidates.

“Those politicans who have influence on people should be very careful about their behaviour if they act in an extremist manner,” he said. “This extremism will reach a level which they will not be able to contain. They will be responsible for the blood, violence and chaos.”

“The Supreme Leader has drawn a line in the sand, and he has the muscle to back it up,” one Iranian analyst said. “His speech was a polite way of saying ‘Hey – there’s a coup and we’re in charge.’ It was an absolute declaration of power.”

Indeed it was. And Fox just had a correspondent on now in Tehran who has been seeing armed militias setting up at all the key intersections in the city.

Ayatollah Khamenei demanded the demonstrations stop. “I want to tell everyone these things must finish. These street actions are being done to put pressure on leaders but we will not bow in front of them,” he said. “I call on all to put an end to this method…If they don’t they will be held responsible for the consequences and chaos.”

“Consequences and chaos” seems a pretty clear indication that Khamenei plans on taking action of some type should the planned protests materialize tomorrow.

And the opposition?

But protestors said they would attend today’s rally come what may. “If the crowd is large enough there’s nothing they can do,” Bahrooz, an engineer, said. “If they start killing people that would bring about the fall of the regime.”

“All my friends are coming and they’re bringing their families,” Taraneh, an office worker, said. ”How many people can they arrest or kill?”

Brave words. Courageous intent. I wish them well and pray for their success.

But the bottom line is the guy who presently enjoys the monopoly on the use of force in that country has, in a somewhat nuanced way, announced he’s willing to use it.

But then the protester has a point as well. I believe we’re going to see a violent crackdown. The question then is do those who will have to inflict the violence upon the protesters have the will to see it through to completion – completion being killing and/or arresting enough protesters necessary to completely gut the protest movement.

I’m not sure, but I’m afraid we’re going to find out.


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9 Responses to Iran: The Gauntlet Is Thrown – Power To The People

  • You know, I think that I have a unique perspective on Iran. My cousin lived there during the 1950s – he was a CIA officer, working with the Iranian gendarmes, and was one of those involved in the overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953. Yep, I do have those kind of ties.

    I think Iran is at a crossroads right now. If the people come out for Saturday’s protest, the police may be ordered to fire on them. Whether they do or they don’t is the key. If they do, the world will see it and Iran will become more of a pariah around the world. If they don’t, the people will be emboldened and the thugs like Ahmadinejad and Khomenei will be in fear that they are about to be challenged everywhere. Then this thing will cartwheel out of control. And what do we have as a President to give us some backing? Howdy Doody, that’s who. The Clown™, the naïve little pr!ck, who probably has no idea what the capital of Iran is, offers us about as much leadership as Jimmy Carter did. Perhaps less.

  • For those (like Erb) who don’t believe me about my cousin, let me post links to several photos of my cousin Irving Davidson (1920-1989), who served in the CIA during the Second World War (when it was the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS), and then into the 1950s.

    Picture 1: Irving with the Iranian gendarmes he was training. He is in the bottom row, second from the right.

    Picture 2: Irving in WWII with the CIA. He is on the right.

    Pictures 3 & 4: Irving, given some award at the Pentagon, 1961. Note the photo of JFK on the wall in the second picture.

    Picture 5: Irving (and his wife Margaret) in 1975. Irving died in 1989, and his widow was given the choice of burying him in Arlington National Cemetery. Instead, she had him laid to rest near her home in Maryland.

    I have more photos of Irving, but I don’t have the time to post them all unless someone is interested. Irving Davidson was definitely a hero of mine, and he and his brother Clifton, who was a waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator during WWII and was shot down and killed in April 1944, are heroes to this country. Obama couldn’t clean either of their shoes.

  • Be interesting to see if we get an idea what the standing orders are for the Armed Forces during this phase.
    And whether or not the force commanders based near the cities will follow the orders when what I’m presuming will be handpicked fanatic militias controlling city intersections, etc, might be firing on a civilian population.

  • “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
    – Samuel Adams
    Godspeed, people of Iran.

  • As for how the military will react if it is ordered to take part, I don’t doubt many regular army officers and soldiers would have serious reservations about slaughtering their own unarmed people. But the Iranian government has a parallel military force in the IRGC (the Pasdaran). They’re the hardliners, and they’re going to be the ones doing the killing. The government won’t need to use the regular army.

    • Rumors out of Iran is they’re in the middle of purging the IRG because some commanders won’t commit to firing on the people if ordered. However, I mentioned some of the hard line militias are being seen at key street intersections and they’re armed.

  • Would it be bad timing or good timing if Israel try to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites tomorrow while Khamenei cracked down on the demonstrations? Your thoughts?

  • It would be a good time  in a strategic sense but a bad time in the “eyes of the international community”  Most would view it as an effort to distablize Iran and not simply a self defense action.  I suspect that if they were to do it that distablization would be one of the motives

  • James, Mossadegh is considered a hero by most Iranians, and the coup in 1953 is probably why we have a regime so unfriendly to us in power.   More on that coup and its impact here.   At this point, it’s not clear that the majority in the country truly support Mousavi — his support is urban and educated.   Also, moderates in Iran do not want us to get involved or get bombastic with our rhetoric — Obama could do the easy thing and unleash a lot of tough talk.   That would win him political points here, but give cover to the hardliners.  It would be weakness and naivite for Obama to simply rachet up the rhetoric.
    Again, talk is cheap.   In this case, that kind of talk isn’t even wanted by Iranian dissidents.    Obama is taking the right approach — the only feasible approach.   In fact, the Obama administration may be doing things that we can’t see — anything visible to us would give fodder to the hardliners to play the anti-American anti-intervention card.    We can only speculate.  But tough talk is really a sign of impotence.  It’s not like tough talk from Obama will cause the leaders to say, “ooh, Obama’s mad at us, we’d better back off.”   Not in the least.