TEHRAN, Iran – Saturday, as promised by the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the jackboots of the security forces and the basij Islamic paramilitary came down hard on the people.
They still are, as large segments of the population continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the outcome of the recent elections and their aftermath.
The media had been warned, the opposition party had been warned, foreign governments have been warned, and the people of Iran most certainly had been warned that tolerance, never a strong suit of the ruling mullahs, is finally at an end.
So, what else is new?
Huffington Post continues to blog in as realtime as possible, as are others, providing a stream of words and images from a country that tried in vain to cut off all communication with the outside world. As if such a thing truly were possible with a majority of the population under 30.
The government, in its predictable lunacy, now is claiming that the nation is under attack; a suicide bomber has struck the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (pictured, top), and two people have been killed. It has not been corroborated by independent media, though, and is a highly suspect claim, considering that the Ayatollah Khamenei (pictured, below) yesterday warned about the possibility of foreign terrorists taking advantage of the unrest by targeting sacred shrines.
As sophisticated a regime of oppression as this one has been, when up against the wall it too – like all others – resorts to clumsy, obvious and brutal methods of population control and propaganda. We are all the same in our thuggery.
Indeed, Daily Kos already has made a correlation between the events in Iran and the U.S. regarding the gay marriage movement. While obnoxious in its timing, but at least the writer was expressing a sense that the type of change people around the world are talking about, fighting for, voting for and dying for, is not the sort that can be swept away under cover of an Internet blackout, the threats of a dictator or blood in the streets, not to mention banal political expediency or cowardice.
Could it be that a spirit of revolution truly has been unleashed around the world? If so, the Iranian version appears to be populist, huge and mostly non-violent, more a wave than a conflagration, optimistic more than fatalistic, and all the more dangerous to the ruling classes because of it.
As bad as the street battles are, the repression that follows could turn out to be worse than that of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and no one is saying that opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Iran’s prime minister during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and an establishment insider, would remake Iran into a secular state or Western-style democracy.
Indeed, what we are witnessing – with its internecine alliances and shifting of sides by establishment players – may be just a down and dirty winner-takes-all power play among political insiders, each trying to use the people like pawns in a chess game. But if so, the fact seems strangely irrelevant in the face – and the faces – of this tidal surge of protest. Things may have gotten too far out of control, the worst state of affairs for totalitarians.
With every baton blow and every bullet that finds its mark, the vitriol of the people literally escalates. It continues to rage. Imagine the amount of pure hateful energy it will take to repress (and control) this level of pure outrage?
No, it may not happen today or tomorrow, but this regime is history, as all regimes must become once it is clear that their hold on power is illegitimately acquired. It simply becomes a matter of time.