So How's it Going in Iran?
I was told months ago that Khamenei and Mousavi had made a deal. Mousavi would run, and win, and then slowly introduce greater freedom. I didn't believe it at the time, but it has seemed more and more plausible. When somebody at the Interior Ministry called Mousavi on election night to tell him to prepare a victory statement, that was part of the deal. But by then, the mullahs had seen their doom, and used the only weapons at their disposal: lies and violence. Some have asked why Khamenei used such grossly implausible numbers to "reelect" Ahmadinezhad, but that bespeaks ignorance of the mullahs: there is no lie that will shame them. No, the real question is why Zahra Rahnavard was given a free hand, and the real answer is that the mullahs, with Khamenei in the lead, made a blunder.
In any event, all of that is irrelevant now. The only thing that matters is winning and losing. Whatever plans Mousavi had for a gradual transformation of the Islamic Republic, they have been overtaken by events; the issue now is the survival of the system. Mousavi has called for a general strike on Tuesday. That is the right strategy, since he must demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of Iranians want an end to the regime. And the dissidents must show that they are not afraid of the thugs. Mousavi has said that they must use flowers, not guns, since he must aim at the disintegration of the armed killers, not at winning a gunfight.
There are reports of members of the Revolutionary Guards defecting to the dissidents. There is this report from an Iranian website (the only place i've seen it) according to which 16 senior Revolutionary Guards officials have been arrested:
"These commanders have been in contact with members of the Iranian army to join the people's movement. Three of the commanders are veterans of Iran-Iraq war. They have been moved to an undisclosed location in East Tehran."
If true, it's very important, but, as I have often noted, the regime has distrusted them for some time. The young Islamic revolutionaries of the late 1970s are now middle aged, and do not wish to slaughter their neighbors. That is why the mullahs have imported killers from abroad: the five thousand or so Hezbollahis who, according to Der Spiegel, have been brought in from Lebanon and Syria. Dissidents on Twitter report clashes with security forces who do not speak Farsi, and there are even some rumors suggesting that Chavez has sent some of his toughs from Venezuela. Who knows?
The other great threat to the regime comes from the upper reaches of the clergy. Do not be surprised to see some senior ayatollahs denounce the regime; many have done so in the past (Ayatollah Montazeri has been under house arrest for years, and Ayatollah Boroujerdi has been subjected to horrible torture for criticizing the lack of freedom in Iran). We are still quite early in this process.
But the key element is the people. They are only just beginning to understand the reality of their situation. Virtually none of them imagined that they would be in a revolutionary confrontation with the regime just two days after the electoral circus, and few of them can realize, so soon, that they can actually change the world. I think the Mousavis now understand it (they know that they are either going to win or be destroyed). It remains to be seen if they can instruct and inspire the movement.
Much will depend on their ability to communicate. The regime has been waging a cyberwar against the dissidents, shutting down websites, cell phones, Facebook, and the like. As most people have learned, the basic communiations tool is Twitter, which somehow continues to function. Bigtime Kudos to Twitter, by the way, for postponing its planned maintenance so that the Iranians can continue to Tweet. Would that Google were so solicitous of freedom.
We don't know who's going to win. The Iranian people know that they're on their own; they aren't going to get any help from us, or the United Nations, or the Europeans. But paradoxically, this lack of support may strengthen their will. There is no cavalry on the horizon. If they are going to prevail, they and their unlikely leaders will have to gut it out by themselves. God be with them.
UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for linking. Most grateful.
UPDATE II: Dittos to Jules Crittenden.
UPDATE III: Tuesday morning. Neither I nor anyone I know has been able to find a Spiegel story about "five thousand Hezbollahis" operating in Iran. So I think the claim on Twitter was probably false, at least so far as the German publication is concerned. Lots of Iranians claim to have encountered arab speakers, which makes a lot of sense in any case. There are terrorist training camps inside Iran, after all, and those guys can be pressed into service.
Reports on Twitter of Army forces moving into Tehran. I don't believe it. The Army's role is border defence, not civil repression. The whole drill a few months ago, designed to combat a "velvet revolution," was RG, Basij, police, etc. Not Army, as I understand it. Maybe the Basij have been given Army uniforms?
Clearly the regime is trying to crush the insurrection quickly. The prisons are filling up, as the hospital wards. Some of the wounded people in the hospitals get dragged off for interrogation. Ugly.
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, whose sources inside Iran are as good as anybody's, says that Ayatollah Montazeri is openly supporting the demonstrators. She says AFP has the story in French.
And two big rallies have been called in downtown Tehran, in the same square: one by Khamenei, to support the regime, at four o'clock local, the other by Montazeri at half past five.
Foreign reporters are reportedly closed in their buildings/apartments. This was obviously going to happen.
UPDATE IV: Thanks to Michelle Malkin! And to Bloodstar! (I'm sure Darth wishes he'd thought of that name)