Michael Totten

Iran on Fire (Continuously updated)

The BBC says clashes between demonstrators and police in Tehran are “the most violent in a decade”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8098896.stm.
Video below shows a human wave of demonstrators chasing frightened police officers.
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Here is another video. These protests are huge.
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Below are thousands of Iranians chanting not “Death to America” or “Death to Israel,” but “Death to the Government.”
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Oppressive governments that face ferocious resistance in the streets often don’t last very long. The Islamic Republic regime has been durable so far, and reports of its imminent demise have been premature, but there is only so much it can withstand.
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“A reader writes”:http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/06/why-did-the-mullahs-panic.html to Andrew Sullivan, who is doing an excellent job covering Iran this weekend.

Why did the clergy panic? Because they saw something much larger than just Mousavi being elected. They saw the beginnings of a wave that would sweep them out of power. This started with Khatami. and it won’t stop today just because they declared a fraudulent winner. Mousavi would have been the crowbar with which to pry open the tangled nest of corruption that came into power soon after the 1979 revolution. There is enough pent-up anger in Iran’s youth to fuel a complete wipeout of the regime. If the thugs were so utterly ham-fisted in their attempt to usurp power, they surely will commit scores of idiotic errors in the days to come. I cannot imagine Rafsanjani staying quiet for much longer; the theocracy is about to break wide open. Resistance will take many forms, and now will not stop until the mullahs are permanently out of power. Iran is headed for civil war.

Tehran almost looks like a war zone already. “A heaving volcano”:http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/06/a-heaving-volca.php, indeed.
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Hundreds of insurrection photos are uploaded “right here”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mousavi1388/ on Twitter.
“Haaretz is now reporting that Mousavi has been arrested”:http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1092304.html. Yesterday’s report turned out to be false, but maybe this one is accurate. Who knows? We’re in the fog of “war” here.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “sounds like Baghdad Bob”:http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLD585697 right about now: “It was a free and healthy election,” he said.
“Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei, the real power in Iran, sounds even more like Baghdad Bob than Ahmadinejad. “He said”:http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/06/13/iran.election/index.html the “election” was “an artistic expression” of “the joy and excitement of a nation.” Good grief.
“From the Huffington Post”:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/13/iran-demonstrations-viole_n_215189.html:

“My next door neighbor is an Iranian immigrant who came here in 1977. He just received a SAT phone call from his brother in Tehran who reports that the rooftops of nighttime Tehran are filled with people shouting ‘Allah O Akbar’ in protest of the government and election results. The last time he remembers this happening is in 1979 during the Revolution. Says the sound of tens of thousands on the rooftops is deafening right now.” It’s almost four in the morning in Iran.

Andrew Sullivan “writes”:http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/06/something-is-happening-in-iran-1.html: “The last time a news event gave me chills like this was the Soviet coup. It ended the regime.” Yes, it did.
You know what this reminds me of? The convulsion that shook Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, Iraq.
Here’s “an excerpt from a dispatch I filed from there a few years ago”:http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001514.html:

“Jassim was pissed off because American artillery fire was landing in his area,” Colonel Holmes said. “But he wasn’t pissed off at us. He was pissed off at Al Qaeda because he knew they always shot first and we were just shooting back.”
“He said he would prevent Al Qaeda from firing mortars from his area if we would help him,” Lieutenant Hightower said. “Al Qaeda said they would mess him up if he got in their way. He called their bluff and they seriously fucked him up. They launched a massive attack on his area. All hell broke loose. They set houses on fire. They dragged people through the streets behind pickup trucks. A kid from his area went into town and Al Qaeda kidnapped him, tortured him, and delivered his head to the outpost in a box. The dead kid was only sixteen years old. The Iraqis then sent out even nine year old kids to act as neighborhood watchmen. They painted their faces and everything.”
“Sheikh Jassim came to us after that,” Colonel Holmes told me, “and said I need your help.”
“One night,” Lieutenant Markham said, “after several young people were beheaded by Al Qaeda, the mosques in the city went crazy. The imams screamed jihad from the loudspeakers. We went to the roof of the outpost and braced for a major assault. Our interpreter joined us. Hold on, he said. They aren’t screaming jihad against us. They are screaming jihad against the insurgents.”

By the way, everyone should order and read The Persian Night: Iran under the Khomeinist Revolution by Amir Taheri immediately. I’m just about finished reading it now, and it is absolutely electrifying.
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And finally, see my own piece just published in Commentary Magazine about the Islamic Republic regime in Iran: “An Enemy of the World”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/totten/69651.
Over the next couple of days I’ll be posting “regular updates and analysis at the Commentary Magazine blog”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/category/contentions/contentions?author_name=totten.
Stay tuned for another long dispatch from Iraq after the weekend. And if anyone feels like hitting my tip jar today, I promise not to get mad.
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