Keeping Up With Iran

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 3, 2009

Perhaps the best way to get Iran back into the news–after interminable Michael Jackson coverage–is to get the country to serve as Governor of Alaska. Barring that, humble little blogs like mine will have to do what is possible to collect and present news reports concerning the ongoing unrest there.

First off, you can check out this collection of news updates. Note that the Islamic regime is now in the business of coercing confessions; more on that issue here. None of this is a surprise, but that doesn’t mean the reader isn’t or shouldn’t be utterly appalled.

Speaking of the utterly appalling, we are going to have show trials! Heaven forbid that the regime acknowledge that unrest and dissatisfaction with its policies and behavior might be homegrown, and that Iranians can think for themselves. Few governments on Earth demonstrate so regularly such contempt for the intelligence of their own people as does the Islamic regime for the intelligence of Iranians.

On the upside, this analysis is on the money in stating that the protests are not over. We are certainly seeing different tactics at work, but that is to be expected. I suppose that the implementation of these different tactics makes coverage of what is happening in Iran more boring, and I am concerned that the relative lack of coverage may serve to take away some momentum from the protests, but the protesters are playing the long game, and a change in tactics is necessary; indeed, the change may do more to help alter the nature of the Iranian government than will a monotonic emphasis on street demonstrations.

Abbas Milani is always worth reading:

Pockets of resistance–from people who risk life and limb to register their protests and face regime goons to clerics and ayatollahs who dare defy Khamenei and the wrath of his machinery of oppression–continue to crop up. It is unclear whether these pockets will succeed in turning the table on the coup’s perpetuators.

But what they have already accomplished is almost as important: They have exposed the fabric of lies the regime had worked so hard to weave. It will never be able to reclaim legitimacy, and the countdown for the triumvirate’s ultimate downfall has already begun.

Even though the Shah, who ruled of Iran for almost 40 years, notched impressive accomplishments in the domains of economy and infrastructural change, he could never shake off the damage two events inflicted on his legitimacy. First, the August 1953 toppling of Mossadeq and the image carved in the collective memory of the Iranian people that he was a king installed in power by a coup.

The second event was an uprising in June 1963. Thousands rose up to protest the arrest of Ayatollah Khomeini, and more than 100 people were killed by the army, deployed in the streets for a few days. The Shah, people said, had blood on his hands. In just a few days, Khamenei and his accomplices have managed not only to have blood on their hands, but to shed that blood in support of a coup opposed by millions of peaceful Iranians.

Tehran is a city of 10 million to 12 million people. It is estimated that at least 1 million–and according to some reports, closer to 2 million, (in other words, at least 10% of the population)–came out in the streets for five days to protest what they knew was a rigged election.

Imagine if nearly a million New Yorkers came out to protest a government policy for five days. That is what has happened in Iran.

Would that the press cover it more. If it helps, the media could always amuse itself, and its consumers by playing a game of “Where’s Mahmoud?”.

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