The Iranian Civil War
According to the Daily Beast, yesterday's demonstrations against the Iranian regime were smaller than those on February 14th, but in fact they were both larger and more aggressive. The chants of "Death to the dictator" are now quite specific: "Death to Khamenei." They can be heard at night in every Iranian city, and posters of the supreme leader are now burned in the streets during the fighting -- for fighting it is.
Perhaps we will someday see photos from Google Earth, but, lacking that, we have to go on eyewitnesses, with all the subjective limitations of such evidence, some videos, and what we know about the regime's behavior, which is a far more reliable guide. There were 617 arrests around the country -- I believe that is the number provided to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad earlier today -- and 270 people were seriously wounded, requiring medical attention (one of the uglier aspects of this regime is its use of ambulances as paddy wagons and mobile punishment centers; protesters are thrown in and then beaten), and there are two women in coma who will most likely not survive.
The regime armed its "security forces" with all manner of weaponry, from sawed-off mafia-style shotguns to electric batons, tear gas, pepper spray and chains. Armored personnel carriers were deployed, and helicopters were seen overhead at the peak of the fighting. So concerned were the tyrants that they brought in outside forces against the Iranian dissidents: Lebanese Hezbollah fighters (who deployed around Khamenei's home) and, for the first time that I know of, young boys (15 years old and younger, down to 10-11) from mostly rural religious schools, who had been told they would be fighting infidels, and thus any level of violence was justified by divine command. In addition, there were earthly rewards: $50 dollars each. If you look at #iranelection on Twitter you'll find links to accounts of these young hoodlums, as well as some personal accounts of their savagery.
They are in training for future jihads.
In short, the regime went all-in and could not intimidate the people. If anything, the fighting was tougher than in the past, and both sides are sure there is more to come.
Demonstrators took to the streets in the major cities, including Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz, Ahwaz, Rashd, Kermanshah and others. They were not only calling for Khamenei's death but also for the immediate release of Mousavi and Karroubi, the two Green leaders who, along with their wives, were snatched from their homes last Thursday night. The four have been moved from one "secure location" to another virtually every day.
The next round is scheduled for Tuesday the 8th.
Meanwhile, the regime is doing its best to create the Persian equivalent of the Hermit Kingdom. They want to isolate the Iranian people from the outside world, and to that end they are striving to block or filter the social media, shut down international email, and jam foreign satellite broadcasts (or at least destroy the many millions of satellite dishes). They hope, in this way, to become the only source of information and doctrine, and the campaign runs parallel to the intrusion of religious instructors and censors at all levels of public education, the rewriting of the history books to eliminate references to the glories of pre-Muslim Persia, and the vicious purge of the country's leading film makers and artists.
You know that famous satellite photo of the Korean peninsula, the one where the south is all aglitter with lights and the north is virtually all dark? The mullahs want to turn off all the cultural and informational lights except for a few that they control.
Big Brother would have approved. Except that it's too late. The Iranians are too educated and too informed to go quietly, and the regime's campaign is doomed. Indeed, it is one of those efforts that is too impotent to succeed, but just enough to get the people much angrier.
Which is yet another reason why the demonstrations are getting bigger and stronger.
One more time: if the West supported the opposition we could be rid of this evil regime and change the world. I know, believe me, that Obama doesn't want this to happen because he mistakenly believes that we do not have standing to challenge a regime that quite understandably and even properly, in his view of things, hates us.
But one day he's going to send a message of congratulations to the new leaders of a free Iran, and they're going to ask him where he's been, and why they should be happy to hear from him.
What will he say, I wonder?