Iran: When Push Comes to Shove

Now that he has learned that he cannot simply wait out the election protests. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has drawn a line in the sand.  He has warned opposition leaders that they would be responsible for “bloodshed and chaos” if they did not end the protests.

Now we must wait and see what comes tomorrow.  I think the protesters face a difficult and dangerous road ahead.  But the longer they are able to keep their massive rallies rolling, the unthinkable end to Khamenei’s theocratic rule starts to become thinkable.

Tomorrow’s a critical day and I’m cheering for those seeking a more modern and open Iran.

5 Responses to “Iran: When Push Comes to Shove”

  1. tas says:

    Now we must wait and see what comes tomorrow. I think the protesters face a difficult and dangerous road ahead. But the longer they are able to keep their massive rallies rolling, the unthinkable end to Khamenei’s theocratic rule starts to become thinkable.

    Possibly. I’m refreshing myself on history of the Islamic Revolution, and the actions of the Shah during the 1960s and 1970s during the run up to that revolution. There’s stark differences between 1979 and what’s happening right now, much of it rooted in Iran’s social classes (ie: which classes the Shah managed to turn against him), and just general incompetence from the Shah who couldn’t administrate a country to save his life.

    One of the Shah’s biggest failure was land reform, which brings together the social issues of class and administration. Basically, the Shah trashed Iran’s rural country side to the point where he turned the landlord class against him, and the loss of jobs forced rural peasants to move to Iranian cities en masse — but Iranian cities couldn’t handle the new population. Shantytowns sprouted up on the outskirts of cities like Tehran, with living conditions that more resembled third world Africa. Couple administrative failures like this with Grand Ayatollah Khomeini recording his anti-Shah sermons from Najaf, Iraq to cassette, tapes which were copied again and again and distributed throughout Iran’s growing dissident community, and you had the elements of a perfect storm brewing: Brutal, incompetent administration and a stable opposition gathering power from social classes the Shah had spurned.

    The movement against the Shah started out within the intelligentsia sect of Iran’s modern middle class (professional, salaried workers, etc.), spread to the poor (re: shantytowns) and landowners because of land reform, and eventually the traditional middle class — in Iran, a mixture of bazaaris and the clergy in Qom — stood against the Shah.

    Right now, I’m looking for material about what’s happening with Iran’s social classes over the past 30 years to contrast this with the Islamic Revolution. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing much that qualifies as hopeful. For one thing, many Iranian’s are not protesting a downfall of the Islamic Revolution — there is only a mass movement to strike Ahmadinejad from power, not Supreme Leader Khamenini. Also, when the Islamic Revolution started, it must be noted that the first protests were in Qom — not Tehran. And the massive protests (they were driving larger numbers of Iranians into the streets with, 30 years ago, what was a smaller population) spread to other cities besides Tehran. Right now, all we’re hearing about is Tehran.

    Also, one big factor is that the Shah knew his police forces had a limit — they wouldn’t defend his regime and partake in slaughters of protesting Iranians. We are unsure of where this point is with the Islamic Revolution’s regime.

    And besides that, there’s the relatively competent administration of the Islamic Revolution to consider… For example, educational standards have improved, Khomeini brought electricity to Iran’s countryside, and Tehran no longer has peasant shantytowns.

    Of course, the Islamic Revolution started in January, 1978 and ended in February, 1979 — protests built up over a year. So with all my pessimism, I must add the caveat that it’s too soon to tell about anything. But I’m still pessimistic, though… If you ask me, what we’re calling the Green Revolution right now won’t historically be known as such. If anything, it will serve as a brick in the wall to an Iranian revolution we will see in our lifetimes, but it will probably fizzle out, unfortunately.

  2. gcotharn says:

    mac, I congratulate you on supporting the people against the oppressive government.

    tas, it doesn’t make sense, to me, that the people are risking beatings and death merely to remove Ahmadinejad. At this point, if an Iranian is on the streets and risking their life, it makes more sense that they want the government overthrown. My opinion, anyway. There was chanting today: “Death to Khamenei”.

    If the government is not overthrown now, the government nevertheless will never be what it was. The insides of the nation have changed. The ground has shifted. It makes sense that some change has occurred, and that radical change will occur sooner than “in our lifetimes”, i.e. more like in the next couple of months or years, or in the next few years.

    Last, why are you, Mac, and you, Tas, the only people on this blog who are outraged about peaceful Iranians being beaten and killed and oppressed? If the Palestinians were protesting in the streets, and Jews on motorbikes rolled in and beat them with batons, this entire blog would erupt in outrage and protest. Why is not the same outrage directed at a government in Iran which is oppressive and murderous? You open yourself to this:

    DrewM asks: “Remember when the left cared about governments mowing down people?”
    Dave replies: “No”.

    Dave’s point being: the left hates Israel more than they care about Palestinians, Iranians, or Georgians; more than they care about Taliban-oppressed Afghanis or Saddam-oppressed Iraqi Shiites and Iraqi Kurds. I’m not going to say Dave’s point is correct. But I do note his point, and I note the vast, vast different reaction on this blog to the oppression of various peoples. I do note the left too often works itself into a corner where they end up muddled and not clearly standing against the Taliban, not clearly standing against Saddam, not clearly standing against Russia in it’s invasion of Georgia, and not clearly and distinctly standing against Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. This is muddled morality.

    Today Barack unmistakably criticized Khamenei and the Iranian government. There is no reason for any moral person to hold back their outrage against the murders which occurred today. Everyone here ought take unleash their outrage. Put the lie to the accusations of the Daves of the world. Show everyone that you care about innocent persons being oppressed and murdered – no matter who the innocents are, no matter who the oppressive murderers are. Show everyone that, for you, it is about injustice and about immorality, as opposed to merely being about personal anger at the Israelis. Take a clear and evident stand against Khamenei. Doing so will be good for the spirit and the soul: it will be cleansing; clarifying. It cannot have been fun to not unload on the Taliban, on Saddam, on Russia. Unload on Khamenei. Have some fun. Unburden your souls.

  3. JohnHolmes says:

    Interesting, I was wondering myself why the Left seems so invested in this Iran turmoil. The Left never displayed any outrage over Saddam, Communism, nor the Taliban, etc. In many cases the Left actually sides with dictators (Chavez, Castro, Communist Soviet Union) who oppress the common man.

    After lots of thought the only answer I can figure is they want to give Obama credit for it. Some sort of Foreign Policy win for Obama even though he has done nothing, barely a fer words …. How selfish. Why else would the Left find itself ONLY concerned with this situation, but not the others mentioned?? Nevertheless none of the experts predict this uprising will have any effect on the Ruling Mullah’s nor the Iranian Nuke program … certainly not soon enough to avert Global Tension building to a head.

  4. tas says:

    JohnHolmes, offering nothing but off-topic, baseless venom. In fact, when I read this comment to a friend in context of the conversation as a whole — ie: what’s happening in Iran right now — she replied, “My head asploded.” (She made a point of noting that “asploding” is worse than “exploding”.) It would take pages to respond to the off-topic blanket statements against the left that JohnHolmes has presented, so I won’t even bother. Instead, I will highlight his level of knowledge by noting his criticism of Obama on Iran, claiming the president has done nothing, essentially. Anyone who knows anything about Iranian history, and the historical mindset of Persian people, knows that the more hands off any American president is in this situation, the better. Iranians do not trust us (for good reason), and US actions towards a goal in Iran will do much to galvanize Iranians against that goal. Somebody who doesn’t understand this should not be commenting on Iran; and it makes their other, politically biased statements regarding foreign policy highly suspect.

  5. First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.

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