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Next Up Against Iranian Protesters: Tanks

By June 17, 2009

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It's about to get bloodier: If Iranian protests persist, the military will intervene without restraint. (Getty Images)

It's one of two things. Either the Islamic Republic of Iran is over. Or crushing brutality is about to descend on the Iranian street.

It's a matter of time. If Iranians continue to protest Sunday's fraudulent "re-election" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the man they call "the little dictator," Tehran in 2009 will be a repeat of Beijing in 1989--a Persian Tiananmen Square. The Revolutionary Guard, who have consolidated their hold on Iranian power, will unleash their tanks while Basij vigilantes--the shock troops of the regime--defenestrate a few dozen people, as they have in previous uprisings (1999 and 2003), as a message to everyone else below.

Asd Reza Aslan argued in a clear-headed piece for the Daily Beast, "what we are witnessing in Iran is nothing less than a slow moving military coup against the clerical regime itself, led by Iran’s dreaded Revolutionary Guard, or Pasdaran, as the organization is called in Iran. The Pasdaran is a military-intelligence unit that acts independently from the official armed forces."

The Pasdaran is a creation of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who died the year of the Tiananmen massacre, as his personal militia. But Aslan notes that the Pasdaran "no longer answer to the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei." Rather, it controls Ahmadinejad, himself a product of the Revolutionary Guard who spent the past four years stocking ministerial posts with former jack-booted Guards.

As Daniel Pletka and Ali Alfoneh write in a Times op-ed virtually cribbed from Aslan's point, "Fourteen of the 21 cabinet ministers he has appointed are former members of the guards or its associated paramilitary, the Basij. Several, including Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, are veterans of notorious units thought to have supported terrorist operations in the 1980s."

Khamenei, the supreme survivalist, backed Ahmadinejad from the first because he knew that it was either that or his hide. "Far from fretting about an impending attack from Israel or America," The Times op-edists write, "guard leaders have been warning the ayatollah that the most formidable threat to the Islamic Republic is a 'soft regime change policy' involving the use of 'orange revolutions' (as the hard-line Iranian newspaper Kayhan recently editorialized)."

That's the military coup Aslan was referring to.

Meanwhile, here's today's latest:

  • According to the UK Times, "Iran's defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi issued a direct challenge to the country’s clerical regime today, calling for a mass rally to protest against the 'shameful fraud' that saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected by a landslide. Mr Mousavi's appeal to supporters, issued via his website, flew in the face of a declaration last night by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, that the former prime minister should pursue his objectives through the electoral system and not on the streets. It also came despite a demand from the powerful Revolutionary Guard that websites and bloggers should remove any materials that 'create tension'."

  • Iran and South Korea met on the football pitch in a World Cup qualifying match in Tehran today. They played to a 1-1 draw. More significantly: several Iranian players wore green wristbands in solidarity with the uprising's color.

  • Even Hardline Iranian presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai has joined the dissenters, demanding to see details of the full results. “The delay in providing data on the election has created suspicion that the figures are being manipulated to match what was announced officially," he said.

  • Revolutionary Guard threaten media with reprisals if they "instigate demonstrations."

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June 17, 2009 at 11:43 pm
(1) James Raider says:

The crowds are of such size that their “movement” is beyond the point of no return.

Change may be slow in coming, nevertheless, it will come.
Some Mullahs have already headed out of town.

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