The Iranian Regime's Days May Be Numbered
Is it a revolution? Can it succeed? Should we support it, and if so, how?
Surely this tumult is very different from the protests of 2009. It’s different in at least two ways, geographical and demographical.
Geographically, whereas the 2009 protests were mainly limited to Tehran, today’s phenomenon covers the whole country, from major cities to smaller towns and even rural villages. That’s significant, because those who do not believe in the prospects of an Iranian revolution invariably argue that opposition to the regime is restricted to the elites of the big cities, and that rural populations are pro-regime. It’s difficult to judge how many rural residents are protesting, but it’s a significant number. That’s new, and I believe it surprised both the regime and the leaders of the uprising.
The demographic difference is class: the 2009 demonstrators were Tehrani bourgeoisie (bazaaris, for example). Today’s masses are proletarians: workers, unemployed, failing farmers and the like. Notice that trade unionists are being arrested in Tehran, because the tyrants fear they are the real organizers of the uprising, and because workers and the unemployed are not as easy to intimidate as professors and businessmen.
Then there is ideology. Most accounts would have you believe that this whole thing started because people weren’t being paid, or were hungry. Have you heard anyone chanting “give us our money”? People do not risk their lives just to get their salaries or pensions paid. Protests of this sort are, and have long been, commonplace, but they did not set off a nation-wide conflagration. But the fires are now burning all over the place, and the fires are being set by people who want an end to the Islamic Republic. Just listen to them and watch them as they burn posters of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Watch them as they burn down religious centers, schools, and living quarters for those in or entering the ranks of the clergy. No, Marie Antoinette, this is not about the price of bread, but about a regime that oppresses and steals from the Iranian people to enrich itself, and pay, arm, train and command Iranian and foreign fighters who serve the regime’s interests in places like Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and numerous African countries, as well as in South America. And so the would-be revolutionaries in the streets of—what is it now?—31 cities yell at the security forces: “Don’t talk to us about Gaza, talk about us.” For them, the regime is something depraved and alien. Some of the protestors have lost relatives on foreign battlefields, and they don’t approve.
Which brings us to the present and pending street battles for the future of the country, and, in many important ways, the world.