Secretary of State Clinton is quite right to say that Iran is now a military dictatorship. A note on Twitter last week put it succinctly and accurately:
[The Revolutionary Guards, [aka “Sepah”] & its Commander in chief have taken over & have no intention of letting go. [Next year’s regular Army] budget is not even quarter of Sepah’s budget.
– Basij is totally integrated in Sepah now.
– From National police to Central command, all Sepahi & Basijis.
– The Ministry of Intelligence is run by Sepah Intelligence.
– [State broadcasting] & most print media are run by Sepah.
– Most judges are Sepahis.
– 3/4 of Gov is Sepahi.
It is a de facto military dictatorship.
The supremacy of the Revolutionary Guards and their instruments of mass brutality were shown on the Tehran streets last Thursday, the anniversary of the seizure of power by the followers of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979. According to eyewitness , both online and in newspapers like Le Monde, there were huge numbers of security forces in major squares, and along the streets leading to them. Some Green demonstrators—“many of us,” according to Le Monde’s source–even found themselves funneled into Azadi Square along with regime supporters. So, for those who like to keep score, it was hard to get an honest count. We do know that the Guards, police, and Basij beat up hundreds of Greens with considerable savagery. Their victims included the wife of Green leader Meir Hossein Mousavi, the other top Green figure, Mehdi Karroubi (who was struck in the face with a tear gas canister and may lose an eye) and his son, Ali (who was beaten and tortured in a mosque after being seized).
We also know that the regime falsified the size of the crowd that came to cheer President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Official pictures purported to show a monster turnout in Azadi Square, but overhead photography from Google Earth shows that only a quarter of the space was full, and YouTube videos on the spot show lots of empty space. Kids had room to kick a soccer ball around, and plenty of the faithful lay down on the grass and took a nap while the president delivered his usual diatribe.
Google Earth also shows an armada of buses, which were said to have brought demonstrators from outside Tehran, but for the most part carried Basij and untrained youth from the countryside. They were mostly thugs, not celebrants. A family of 5 was paid the equivalent of about $80 for the day, plus food and drink. Things were even better for the many foreigners—mostly from Lebanon, and most of those female, to target the many women among the Greens—who joined the ranks and files. They were rewarded with Iranian gold coins worth $285, plus food and lodging.
The main conflicts in Tehran took place in the western neighborhoods, where the demonstrators were shot with paintballs, and throughout the city the doors of some 3-4,000 houses were marked with red crosses, to indicate that people on those rooftops had defiantly chanted “Allah is great,” and “death to the dictator” during the night. The residents will be targeted in the coming days.
Repression spread all over the country. Kurdestan, for example, was under curfew from Wednesday night until Friday, and there are similar reports from Khuzestan and Balouchistan. Violence was not limited to human bodies; the regime went all out to ensure that the Greens could not communicate, either among themselves or with the outside world. There have already been many reports about the shutdown or severe limitation of Twitter, Facebook, internet email and the like (although some emails, Tweets and videos did come out, even on Thursday), and there was a virtual blackout of foreign broadcasting, prompting a piteous complaint from VOA, the BBC and Deutsche Welle: “They accused Iran of broadcasting freely around the world while denying the Iranian people programs coming from outside the country.”
The unprecedented deployment of armed power bespeaks a profound and ultimately fatal failure: the leaders have lost legitimacy in the hearts of the people, and they know it. No doubt some of the fanatics at the top still believe in Khomeini’s vision of a global Islamic revolution, but they are a distinct minority. Recently they have had to increase religious indoctrination in the schools, and censor textbooks to eliminate accounts of pre-Islamic Persia. A few weeks ago, they had to crush religious gatherings to mourn the passage of the country’s leading Grand Ayatollah. And, as Mrs. Karroubi bitterly noted in a letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, her son was threatened with rape “in the house of God.”
Such is the empty vessel that calls itself the Islamic Republic.
And why should we care? Why not leave these sadistic poseurs to stew in their own juices?
The first reason is, because we are right to support those who fight against such an evil.
The second is that they are killing Americans, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and everywhere else their claws can reach us. Iran today is a preview of what they intend to do to us if they win a war they declared 31 years ago.
Faster, please, Mrs. Clinton. Analysis isn’t good enough. As Yoda said, “not try. Do.”