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Another Showdown at the Mullahs’ Corral

February 10th, 2010 - 1:33 pm

I believe that the Iranian regime has assembled the largest armed force in history to protect it from the Iranian people’s righteous indignation on Thursday the 11th.  There will be hundreds of thousands of police, revolutionary guards, Basij, and people bused in from the countryside to Tehran.

Additionally, the regime is shutting down communications, especially in Tehran.  Iranian Tweeters say internet is largely gone, and cell phones are not working.  None of this is new, and in the past the dissidents have managed to beat the censors; it will be interesting to see if the mullahs’ trusted advisers (mostly Chinese) are more effective this time.  They certainly have failed in China, and the Iranian authorities have demonstrated an almost supernatural ability to screw up their own plans.

A case in point:  the political center of the city is Azadi Square, and workers have been stringing loudspeakers (and probably cameras) all over the  square and the approach routes, in order to drown out the chants of the demonstrators.  So today they tested the system by broadcasting the national anthem.  Except it was the shah’s anthem, not the Islamic Republic’s.

Was it sabotage, or that incredible knack of ruining even a simple dry run?  Who knows?  Whatever it was, it reinforces the regime’s popular image of a bunch of thugs who can only kill, maim and torture, but not build anything of value.

The regime is very nervous, as well it should be.  They don’t trust anyone outside a very small circle of fanatical loyalists.  The broadcasters at radio/tv headquarters scheduled to cover the festivities were all replaced on Tuesday.  Activists, intellectuals, and relatives of opposition leaders have been thrown in jail.  These measures have been in effect for some time now — Reporters Sans Frontières claims 400 journalists have left the country since June 2009 and 2000 journalists are jobless — but have not cowed the dissidents.  We’ll soon see if that has changed.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the current phase of the Iranian revolution is that many of those arrested knew it was coming, had the opportunity to hide, but chose to go to jail.  They viewed their arrest as a badge of honor, and (not to make light of the horrors of Iranian jails) perhaps even a good career move.  They expect the regime to fall, and they are building up credits for the next government.

The two leaders of the Green Movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, expect to be arrested either Wednesday or Friday, and indeed they have been daring Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to do it.  They believe that if they are arrested, the country will rise up against the regime.

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