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Some Mullahs Join Iranian Protests

Don’t forget that the 1979 Iranian revolution took about a year to gestate after the initial protests. And it picked up support from other elements of society as it grew.

In a blatant act of defiance, a group of Mullahs took to the streets of Tehran, to protest election results that returned incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

Whether these clerics voted for Ahmadinejad or one of the opposition candidates is unknown. What is important here, is the decision to march against the will of Iran’s supreme leader who called the results final and declared demonstrations illegal.

This is an indicator that what happened in ’79 may be beginning to happen in ’09 as well.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mullahs rule supreme. They are the country’s conservative clerics; the guardians of the Islamic revolution and its ideologies. They’re loyal only to God and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Obviously that particular equation is under assault with these clerics physically making the point that their loyalty is elsewhere. Check out the article for the picture of these clerics among the protesters.


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30 Responses to Some Mullahs Join Iranian Protests

  • Reading the tweets from Baharestan today.  It’s pretty disheartening.  The protesters got their heads handed to them, by all accounts.

  • I have yet to find a focal point on the Iran side of this. At least nothing that isn’t being made up on the fly.

    In terms of Obama, what you have is a bad faith presidency. Nothing can change that. It was conceived in bad faith and attained office in bad faith and has no possible modality other than bad faith.

    In terms of Iran, millions of people disbelieved the election results and now the line is that this is no longer about the elections but the regime.

    Now, if there’s one thing I rarely trust, it is mobs of people in the streets. What do they mean? What do they represent?

    I say that as an admirer of the Iranian people. What I question is whether they can get anywhere politically desirable from where they are, and whether or not they will simply wind up with a new regime as calculating and regressive and not a whole lot less repressive than the one they have. Remember that that Shah, believe it or not, was a reformer. Could there be hope for a regime as pro-Western as the Shah?

    What concerns me is that this is a little bit like cheerleading the “anti-globalist” demonstrators in Seattle a ways back. What, precisely, was their point? Could it even be said that they had a point to make that even had a reflection in reality? Or was it just rioting for the sake of rioting?

    That “anti-globalist” movement was, by the way, instantly harvested by the “anti-war” movement directly after 9/11. My occasional attempts to get people to recognize that there was a direct North Korean link to the “anti-war” movement has never prompted so much as a query. So, pardon my skepticism about big time street demonstrations.

    And I don’t think that what is happening in Iran is the equivalent of, or even close to, the final rising of the people of Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. Different world, different civilization.

    Maybe I’m wrong and just being too skeptical.

    My bottom line remains the Iranian nuclear program, by which I mean ending it, conclusively. If the “reform” doesn’t get to that, then I have no real interest in it.

    The big problem here is that the national security interests and apparatus of the U.S. are now under the control of a “citizen of the world” who has subordinated those interests and that apparatus to his own interests. That is, a bad faith presidency here has truly global implications, none of them good, at home or abroad.

    So, “we” (us Americans) should be wary of what “we” do in terms of any and all foreign policy, because it will all be done in bad faith by this bad faith presidency.

    • My bottom line remains the Iranian nuclear program, by which I mean ending it, conclusively. If the “reform” doesn’t get to that, then I have no real interest in it.

      I’m pretty much where you are in term of expectations and priorities, though I think that it’s quite unlikely that any replacement regime would be worse than what we’re dealing with now. And the odds that we’ll get some kind of opportunity to get that nuke effort shut down were/are effectively zero with the current regime, so any change in that area can only be for the better.

      But having modest expectations is logical. Creating a free and open society takes a long time. That’s why I always viewed Iraq as a long term process, with some similarities to our reconstruction of Japan after WWII. (For imbecillic specialists in international relations ready to pounce and shout “No, they’re completely different!”, there are indeed differences but there are also significant similarities, and we’ve been over that ground plenty of times, so keep your attention on the topic at hand, if you can.)

      If Iran manages to get a new government, it looks quite likely that it will still have a heavy religious influence. And it won’t have the Sunni/Shia split that moderates some of the worst impulses of religious authorities in Iraq to lord over the people (for their own spiritual good, of course). There really is not a lot we can do about that except hope we get a country we can engage with economically so it can eventually offer a wider range of options for its people.

      Basically, any movement  in the right direction is welcome.

      • I think what I was saying is that I don’t see any direction in Iran, right or wrong. That plus the fact that revolutions that proceed on one pretext (the elections) and shift quickly to another (the regime) can just as quickly morph in any number of unknown directions. Iran, for that matter, is a sui generis situation to begin with.

        There’s nothing wrong with comparing Iraq to Japan, though without a major war like the one with Japan, Iraq resolved itself in the right direction far more quickly than Japan did. The big difference between those exemplars and Iran is of course that the U.S. military isn’t watching the store in Iraq and facilitating the change on the ground. Iran is all in the hands of Iranians. That is a murky thing to read, and I honestly cannot join you in seeing even a marginal move in the right direction. It could be that, but it could also be a huge move in the wrong direction, or possibly a huge move in the right direction.

        But the wrong direction is always easier than the right direction. Just look at how rapidly our own country is deteriorating right now, even putting aside decades of deterioration prior to.

        I rarely trust a mob, although we have the perfect exception in the “voting with their feet” phenomenon in Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War. I would be very wary of looking to that model in the Iranian uprising. This could just be about who has the power, and much less about how it is exercised.

      • Correction.

        This “…the U.S. military isn’t watching the store in Iraq and facilitating the change on the ground.”

        Should read, “isn’t watching the store in Iran…”


  • In 1917, the Cheka arganization was formed as the new Soviet Secret police. After many iterations and name changes it later became the KGB. But it was initially formed for the single purpose of keeping the Russian people from ever forming any sort of revolt to their Soviet masters. For the one thing a “revolutionary” society cannot abide with is Revolution.

    And now, the Islamic Revolutionary Society of Iran is faced with that one thing. Or at least it has the chance to ba a revolution. The technical difference between a Rebellion and a Revolution is that a Revolution succeeds.

    Let’s hope that some years from now we do not refer to this summer as the Iranian Rebellion.

    • Careful what you wish for.

      We are in a time of bizarre outcomes fostered by strange impulses expelled from even stranger beliefs.

      “The best lack all conviction,
      The worst are full of passionate intensity.”

      If the Iranians are looking to the present-day West, they are looking in a dangerous direction, because the present-day West is a mess of postmodern contagions.

      If they are looking to their own past, they are looking to that whence their current state of disintegration comes. As Arthur D. Little proved, a silk purse can be made out of a sow’s ear, and on that principle I believe that actual toothpaste can be put back in the actual tube. But all the king’s horse and all the king’s men cannot put a civilization together again.

      But my unspoken fear about this is the worst of my fears about it. And I remain silent on it because I am afraid to speak it.

      • You seem to be in a black mood today, Martin.

        • I don’t believe in plucking the whisker of terror without looking it in the eye.

          I am wary of mobs, and skeptical about outcomes predicated on uprisings.

          Mobs are also contagious, and one man’s uprising can quickly become, elsewhere, another man’s riot.

          Most of all, however, I believe that we are still just in the opening act of a double-bind bad faith presidency from which nothing will come directly that is good, but that much that is bad is already in place. If it is true that God works in mysterious ways, then all the bad faith deceptions of this presidency could reinvigorate some American fundamental principles, but I believe we are otherwise in for it, and that the impacts will be so nasty that my apparent black mood at the moment will look quite pale.

          I don’t wish for it, but this is a time of landslides not glaciers, and that Americans are being maximally foolish about this president. He should not have been elected. He should not be supported. We are looking at catastrophe.

  • Aw, c’mon.  He disinvited them from the weenie roast, after all.

  • In this movie, exactly one real-life politician is named: “President Obama.” They went out of their way to make sure they named the craven, obstructionist president as Obama.”
    Executive Producer Steven Speilberg really does know his audience.

  • Sidebar, but I’d love to hear Pres. Obama explain how yet another 180-degree reversal by his administration is “absolutely consistent”….

    White House rescinds July 4 invites to Iranians

    By Stephen Dinan (Contact) | Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    The White House has rescinded the invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 celebrations at U.S. embassies around the world.

    White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said nobody from Iran RSVPed to come, and at this point, the invitations are no longer valid.

    “Given the events of the past many days, those invitations will no longer be extended,” Mr. Gibbs said.

  • Martin, I have to disagree with a couple points. First, I don’t hold any delusions about Mousavi; I don’t think he’s fundamentally any different from Ahmadinejad or any other stooge the mullahs would have allowed on the ballot. However, in my opinion, this is being taken as an opening by the liberal youth movement in an attempt to force some kind of change. By all accounts this is not random rioting, and is an cellularly organized and directed. It reminds me of what the French in the Algerian War called “spontaneous” crowd movements.

    Second, the current Iranian regime is unstable, theocratic, oppressive, unflinchingly committed to nuclear weaponization (it is called a “closed issue” there, meaning there is no thought of halting the program). It is the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the last forty years; has continually armed, trained, and sheltered Anti-Iraqi insurgents; and has not minced words about its goal of destroying the Israeli state, not to mention the United States and United Kingdom. Virtually any alternative in its place would be preferable, even if it were not a republican democracy.

  • it’s more than a little like watching 1940’s era dockworkers battling it out over which crime family will control the docks: the gambinos, or the bonannos. which pig will end up wearing the lipstick and the pretty dress? does it even matter?

  • Oh, absolutely, the basiji knocking college students over the head :: gambinos offing bonanos.

  • Nom de guerre: You really think that the liberal Iranian college students and young professionals protesting want Moussavi as their figurehead any more than Ahmadenijad? This is nothing more than a case of a straw breaking the camel’s back, with that straw being the ham-fisted obviousness with which the mullahs rigged the election.

  • Reza Aslan, Iranian author and reporter (living in the US) on the Jon Stewart show, wearing a green arm band and supporting the Iranian protests:  “Thank God for President Obama…if you want to put an end to this revolution tomorrow, let’s listen to Bill Bennett, let’s listen to John McCain…”  In short, the Iranians supporting change say “sometimes the best thing you can do is just shut up.”   The Krauthammers of the world don’t care about the Iranians, those who stupidly call Obama timid do not understand what’s happening.  Wake up, listen to the Iranians and recognize that Obama has this dead right.   Thank God we don’t have a “talk loudly and carry no stick” President like Bush in power.

    • Gee, I thought the complaint about W was that cowboy is all stick and no talk.

      Yep, Obama thinks like you; no consistency.

  • Erb, you are a f***ing idiot. Again you bring up a Jon Stewart guest — as if that is some vindication from an unbiased source. And the guest? An Iranian expatriate — as in, noticeably absent as her compatriots fight in the streets.

    Erb says: “Thank God we don’t have a “talk loudly and carry no stick” President like Bush in power.”

    Like President Bush? Bush was directly responsible for the liberation of 30 million Iraqis. All Obama has ever done is talk loudly.

  • j, you may think all those iranians are out agitating for a bright new beginning; a dawn full of hope and promise and no more mean ol’ mullahs telling them “no fun allowed!”. hell, they may even think it themselves. but it doesn’t matter. if – by some miracle – if they make enough of a fuss that the mullahs decide to cave and declare moussavi the winner, that’ll be that. the ‘revolt’ will peter out – the plainclothes agents of the state will loudly proclaim ‘we won! we got what we fought for!’ – and iran will continue to be run exactly as it is now: by the persian equivalent of the 5 families. they’ll just have a new front man to make speeches on the nightly news is all.
    when the dockworkers of the ’40’s fought their pitched battles for waterfront control, i’l bet you the vast majority of them had no idea they were fighting to choose which mafioso family would control the swag. they *thought* they were fighting for something larger. they *thought* they were fighting for themselves and their families. they weren’t.  until iran can find their own ataturk, someone with the guts and the clout to hang all the mullahs, there’ll be no freedom in persia. if the 20th century has taught us anything, it’s that ‘any regime willing to kill large numbers of their own people will stay in power indefinitely, no matter how bad things get’. see: cuba, north korea, zimbabwe. why should iran be any different?

  • LOL!  Aslan is a recognized expert on Islam and Iran, and knows the territory.  J, you’re just pulling this from your arse.  You’re clearly mad that an Iranian who understands the situation and knows what’s going on doesn’t agree with your emotion-driven thoughtless reaction.  But that’s why he’s selling books and on numerous news programs (he’s a serious journalist) and you’re not.  Moreover, trying to paint Iraq as a “liberation” is hilarious.   You clearly are way out of touch with reality.   If the right thinks like you do, that explains why they are doing so poorly — imagination driven understandings get trumped by reality all the time.

    • See J, he’s got you, because according to Webster’s a country can only be liberated from a foreign power, not a domestic one, so it doesn’t matter how much freer and safer the Iraqi’s are today than under Saddam and his 1000 execution/day average, it’s not a liberation. Then again, according to Webster’s, Obama is most defintely a socialist.

      Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad is demanding an apology from Obama and telling him to stop interfering despite his weak stance, just as the bloggers here predicted. So there goes reality stepping all over the idea that keeping quiet would prevent the Iranian regime from claiming the US was meddling in their affairs.

    • This “serious journalist” and “expert on Iran” moved to the US in 1979, at the age of 7, and has lived here ever since. His education is in religion and fiction. He is currently an assistant professor of creative writing (also known as fiction) and working on a doctorate in religion.

      Personally, I prefer to rely on ‘experts’ with a little more contact with the subject of their expertise, such as current residents of Iran.

      Then again, he is a perfesser of sorts, so he is obviously an ‘expert’ on everything.

  • Could there be hope for a regime as pro-Western as the Shah?

    I’d be happy with a regime that was pro-Iran, to be honest.  Baby steps, and all of that.

  • So, Scott – got anything fresh?  Aslan said that over a week ago, and Obama has modified his stance rather significantly since then.
    That Aslan quote is the only thing that even remotely resembles an argument that Obama fellators like Erb have to deploy.  Aslan’s opinion is just that  – an opinion – and it was not supported by facts or logic.  Opinions are fine, but let’s not pretend that this one is probative.

  • I would like to add that even if this Aslan fellow is an ‘expert’ in Islam, since we are continually assured that those mullah fellas have little to do with REAL Islam (aka The Religion of Peace) his ‘expertise’ doesn’t seem to be of much use.

  • Erb, I have been in Iraq before and after the Surge, and I have seen firsthand the change in the enemy’s tactics and success. I have seen firsthand the Iraqi’s people change in lifestyle and heard many of them speak their many opinions on the situation.

    The so-called “Iran expert” you quote moved to the United States at a very young age immediately after the 1979 revoluation and has remained here ever since. What are Aslan’s credentials that make him an “Iran expert”? I guess brown skin automatically gives qualifications in the eyes of the logic-driven liberal.

    Aside from all that, Aslan is here — in the United States — during the upheaval in Iran. How exactly is he possibly a spokesman for the demonstrators from the safety of a Hollywood soundstage? Ah, I guess that would be the same credibility that an American pseudo-intellectual has on speaking on Iraqi affairs from the safety of a New England lecture hall.

    Oh, and Erb says that Aslan “is a serious [sic] journalist and [I’m] not.” You’re right — I make a respectable living.

  • Princeton University:

    1. free, release, unloose, unloosen, loose; grant freedom to; free from confinement
    2. set free; grant freedom to; “The students liberated their slaves upon graduating from the university”
    3. emancipate; give equal rights to; of women and minorities

  • But clearly you mockers have failed to make  note that “Aslan” is also the name of the Christ like savior in the book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.
    Coincidence?  I think not.