We are very nearly at the first anniversary of the great Iranian electoral hopes and hoax of June 12, 2009. While Iran has changed dramatically in that period of time, many analysts have reverted to form, arguing that the regime has learned how to dominate the monster protests by combining terror against dissidents, propaganda and disinformation against the Green leaders, and subversion of the “social networks” that, for a while, enabled the opposition to coordinate protests in many different cities. And yet, it is quite obvious that the regime is very frightened of the Iranian people. We saw proof of that from the most reliable source: the behavior of the tyrannical regime.
It’s unusual that the cadaver of an old woman could cause a regime to beat up her mourners, but that’s exactly what happened at the funeral ceremony of the widow of Ayatollah Montazeri in late March. In fact, regime thugs not only attacked friends, family, and supporters, but actually snatched the body and buried it in an undisclosed location. If that’s not panic, I don’t know what is. A few weeks later a prison in the capital of Luristan was attacked with explosives, enabling at least two prisoners to escape, and killing 16 security officers, including three revolutionary guards doing their military service.
May Day is not a popular holiday among the tyrants of Iran. Why should it be? Although both workers and teachers have days devoted to them, the 1979 revolution was not supposed to create a workers’ paradise (although “social justice” was one of its themes), but rather the absolute rule of Islamic wise men. And the men who have ruled the Islamic Republic of Iran have not been generous to the working class. Estimates of the real unemployment run as high as 50%. Salaries often remain unpaid for a year and more. Independent workers organizations are forbidden, and the labor leaders who have dared to speak out on behalf of their rank and file have typically been beaten up, incarcerated, and brutally tortured.
It was therefore quite logical for the supreme leader and his cohorts to fill the streets of Iran’s major cities with thousands of security forces on the 1st of May, and to summarily arrest key labor leaders. They didn’t want to see a spontaneous demonstration of Iranian workers’ true feelings about the regime. Those feelings have to be very negative.
Interestingly enough, the security forces were deployed in large numbers even though there had been no calls for a mass demonstration. To be sure, the two most prominent leaders of the Green movement — Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi — had issued strong statements supporting workers and teachers, and expressing solidarity with them. But the Green leaders did not think it would be very smart to call their people into the streets; there was no point in subjecting Iranian dissidents to more savagery at the hands of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij until and unless it was time for the final push.
But this did not mean that there would be no challenge to the regime on May Day, and indeed Mousavi used the occasion to demonstrate that he had found a way to outwit the regime’s efforts to cut him off from the masses throughout the country. The regime has been quite effective in blocking Internet communications like e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook, especially during “hot” periods. So Mousavi resorted to a tactic that had been used by Khomeini in the run-up to the 1979 revolution: he found a low tech method to spread his message. Khomeini distributed audio cassettes with his messages. Mousavi put his May Day message on DVDs, and the Greens have been passing them out all over the country. There are now upwards of 100,000 of these floating around, and for those who cannot play the diskettes there are videotapes. It’s beautifully produced, and frankly it makes one wonder where in the world the message was filmed. The quality is a lot better than you find on the al-Qaeda videos, to put it mildly.
Despite the regime’s attempt to suppress demonstrations from the workers, there were plenty. What? You don’t believe it? Here’s a good bunch of videos for you. And here’s the most entertaining one of the day: it’s the man that dissidents are increasingly calling “the chimpanzee, ” President Ahmadinejad. This brave man, who hurls insults at the infidels, from President Obama on down, was afraid to announce his May Day speech at the University. So an auditorium was filled with his supporters and he sneaked on campus. But they found him out, and told him what they thought of him.
Elsewhere, there were street fights between workers and security forces, especially in the Province of Isfahan. In some cases, the workers prevailed for a while. The regime, sensing its weakness, is increasingly removing the last remnants of a legitimate judiciary, packing the courts and ministries with members of the Revolutionary Guards Corps. The most dramatic recent case is the appointment of Mohammad Bagher Zolghadar, former deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, as the new Social Protection and Crime Prevention deputy at the Justice Ministry. Zoldaghar is widely considered one of the most vicious members of the regime, having been deeply involved in some of the mass murders of the last two decades.
It is just the latest symptom of incoherence, as the regime thrashes about trying to find a way to restore its lost legitimacy. But there is no way. As Mousavi put it nicely a couple of weeks ago,
Unfortunately, (the government’s) frameworks are like sand holes that cannot hold even a drop of water. Currently (they) do not have a clear and concise frameworks or plans. … The conditions in the government are such that everyone is assumed a conspirator and officials suffer from illusions of conspiracy.
And so the supreme leader and his cronies continue their slide down the death spiral of the Islamic Republic.
Next significant date? June 12th. The Greens have requested permission to demonstrate…