Still afraid to arrest the Green leaders, the regime settles for half measures. Karroubi is under house arrest, and both he and Mousavi have been cut off from internet and telephones. For the past several days, activists have been rounded up and delivered to the prisons. The regime has created a new crowd of cyber cops. There is a very suggestive story to the effect that General Jafari, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, has given orders to avoid confrontations if the crowds are big. And during the night, someone in Tehran emailed Tehran Bureau (which is doing a good liveblog of the day’s events) to add that many people suspect that the regime will want to avoid brutal repression in the streets, since the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, will be in town. I don’t quite follow this, since I rather suspect that Gul might enjoy a bit of mayhem (and the Turks themselves are in the midst of renewed oppression against their presumed military opponents, and are pushing Islamism for all they’re worth), but the Tehran correspondent thinks that the mullahs won’t want to appear more brutal than the Tunisians and Egyptians. We shall see soon enough.
Meanwhile, the regime’s enemies are active — pipelines continue to explode — and the Greens are circulating a lovely video that asks the armed forces to join with them on “liberation day.” And, happily and surprisingly, the White House has condemned the regime’s refusal to grant free expression to the Iranian people. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon was quite explicit:
By announcing that they will not allow opposition protests, the Iranian government has declared illegal for Iranians what it claimed was noble for Egyptians. We call on the government of Iran to allow the Iranian people the universal right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and communicate that’s being exercised in Cairo.
That’s progress, and as they say, better late than never. If the American government will start providing real support to the Iranian democrats, this regional insurrection may yet turn into a real revolution. Maybe even in the morning. You never know.