While no one knows what the end game is for the massive protests that have roiled Iran this past week, everyone is noticing the parallels with the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
The irony is not lost on those in power in the current regime. If anything it heightens the stress they feel. For 30 years they have convinced themselves that threats would only come from the ‘evil’ external forces of Britain, USA and the like. They can not believe that their own people are against them.
Of course they are trying to paint the demonstrators as agents of foreign powers, manipulated into protesting. But this only serves to intensify the rage of the Iranian people on the street.
A red line has been crossed and the game has changed. While Mousavi is an old guard and wants to maintain the existing power structures and work within them, the movement has morphed beyond this.
There are now open cries of ‘Death to Khamanei’… something absolutely unheard of before. What is more, as the legitimacy and supremacy of the Supreme Leader is being assailed by loud and boisterous protesters on the street, a much more insidious threat is approaching from Qom.
While most people mistake the Mullah’s as one bloc and supportive of Ahmadinejad and Khamanei, this is not the case. In fact they resent the Revolutionary Guard backed Ahmadinejad and have only derision for his cookoo brand of Hojjatieh Islam. There are exceptions of course. For example, Mulla Mesbah Yazdi who is the mentor and leader of this faction.
The real news in the past few days then is that Mousavi is not really a leader but a prominent icon which is being swept up by a ground swell of anger and resistance against the very system of the Islamic Republic: velayat-e faghih.
Rafsanjani has kept quiet and stayed out of the public eye. But he is very busy in Qom rallying the 86 member Council which he heads. There are rumors that he is proposing a variation to the existing structure which would oust Khamanei and put himself at the top (of course).
Getting back to the parallels with the 1979 Revolution, here are some similarities:
- the state of the Iranian economy is weak with rampant inflation and unemployment
- dissatisfaction with human rights violations, lack of free press, lack of democracy
- dissatisfaction with financial prosperity and extremes of wealth & poverty
- the merchant class (bazaari) are against the state for mishandling the economy
- strikes fuel demonstrations with those unemployed and on strike joining them
- people leave their doors unlocked so demonstrators can find shelter
- cries of ‘Alla-u-Akbar’ throughout the night from rooftops
- protest starts out against one injustice and gains momentum and widens scope
- demonstrators from all strata of Iranian society
- the government cracks down, killing some demonstrators
- the dead are considered martyrs and mourned leading to further demonstrations and deaths
- the cycle of deaths and mourning protests draws in more and more people
- the attention of the world is focused on the events unfolding in Iran
- with normal channels of communication censored or cut off, Iranians turn to alternatives
- the state makes small concessions to no avail (rejected or ignored)
- the crackdown (communication blockades) and demonstrators hamper normal economic activities
These are some of the parallels I’m seeing. But by drawing your attention to this I don’t mean to argue that we are seeing a revolution or that there will definitely be real change in Iran. No one really knows. If any expert pretends to know, they are lying or deluded. No one predicted what we are seeing on the streets of Iran even weeks before hand so it is folly to pretend that anyone can know what will happen in the next few days. The only thing I have is a gut feeling that things will get worse – much worse – before improving.
There has been no letters from the Universal House of Justice that I know of but the NSA of the US has put out a letter recommending that Baha’is there do not participate in sympathy demonstrations. This is also the case for other NSA’s around the world, which leads me to believe that the UHJ/ITC was involved.
For more news and links see the first post election message (scroll down).