Iran Heats Up: The Bazaar Strikes Back
Meanwhile, gunfights continue to break out along the Baluchi border, and the aging fleet of Tupolov aircraft continues to experience a spectacularly high rate of hydraulic failure, most recently on Monday on a flight heavily populated with RG officers flying from Abadan to Mashad for vacation. The plane had to make an emergency landing and although there were many casualties, the pilot’s skill prevented a major disaster. Nobody trusts Iranian airplanes these days; the EU has banned the bulk of Iran's civilian aircraft on safety grounds. But that is a different matter from the pandemic of breakdowns of RG planes, which have a distinct odor of sabotage.
It's not surprising to see considerable internal turmoil within the ranks. Ryan Mauro calls our attention to the many signs of dissent within the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
On June 9, a top IRGC strategist, Hassan Abbasi, openly complained  that “we cannot count on many of the establishment’s own who were blessed by Khomeini and senior officials because sometimes their hands might actually be joined with the enemy’s.”
The IRGC defector, Muhammed Hussein Torkaman, said  that Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad had a plane on alert to fly them to Syria during last summer’s enormous protests. Another report  claimed that the plane was to go to Russia, but that is beside the point. Torkaman says that Khamenei has formed his own intelligence unit to spy on the top security services and he is rumored to be switching his bodyguards every single day.
One member of the security forces plainly told  The Los Angeles Times that he and many others at his base would refuse to follow orders to attack protestors during an uprising. “I would never do it. Maybe someone would, but I would never fire on any of these people myself,” he said.
Read the whole thing, and add to it the ongoing purge and reshuffling of top RG officers, especially in those areas where open confrontation is the order of the day.
The opposition is well aware of the cracks in the iron fist, and Mir Hossein Mousavi dedicated a considerable part of a statement this week to the Guards. He
pointed out the IRGC’s role in the post-election oppressions, arrests and interrogation of political prisoners as well as the Guards involvement in the financial sector with an “unbelievable size”. In addition, he called for the IRGC to return to its initial purpose which was to protect the country in the face of foreign threats and to create an environment suitable for economic development and fighting corruption.
“Unfortunately, we will witness a decline in the reputation of the IRGC and a dwindling of popular support for the IRGC. It is foreseeable that with the current trend, the IRGC will defend its companies, shares as well as financial and monitory institutes instead of defending the people and the country.”
It's obvious that Mousavi is talking about current events, not the future, when he says the IRGC will lose popularity; that process is well advanced, and is part of the ongoing revolution that threatens the survival of the Islamic Republic.
Those who thought that the Greens had been crushed may have trouble recognizing revolution in its new clothes. Ahmad Batebi, who for a while was the international icon of the Iranian resistance (he was on the cover of The Economist, holding up a bloody tee shirt), recently gave a long interview, in which he had some very thoughtful insights. Have a listen:
The western world or the media think that movement means demonstrations, and if the latter doesn’t exist, nor does the former. However, we know that the culture of the Iranian people is different than that of the outside world. The fact that [the Iranian people] write slogans [on walls and banknotes] in the color green and distribute cassettes and CD’s demonstrates that the movement is alive. The movement is learning how stay alive without incurring deaths and arrests. The movement is transferring from one form to another.
In all social movements across the world, you see that when a movement goes underground, for a very short period of time, the activists become slower. This is not sluggishness, but rather the period of transformation. We are passing through this phase. This time, when we have protests in June, we will have less people arrested, less people killed, and that is how people will learn. It is natural that the government learns how to suppress people and the people learn how to resist.
Today the resistance takes many forms, and its leaders hope they can grind down the mullahcracy until it finally -- as Marx would have put it -- collapses of its own contradictions. The strikes in the bazaars show that a previously reliable component of the regime's base has turned on Khamenei & Co., and the cracks in the Revolutionary Guard Corps suggest that the same process is fracturing the regime's praetorian guard. If Iranian workers had a strike fund -- as I have been saying for years -- we would see how profound the fissures really are.