The Streets of Tehran and Washington

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.