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Iranian Showdown June 21, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts.
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Columnist Roger Cohen, who is in Tehran and likely in some danger, had a penetrating article in the NY Times over the weekend

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, had used his Friday sermon to declare high noon in Tehran, warning of “bloodshed and chaos” if protests over a disputed election persisted.

He got both on Saturday — and saw the hitherto sacrosanct authority of his office challenged as never before since the 1979 revolution birthed the Islamic Republic and conceived for it a leadership post standing at the very flank of the Prophet. A multitude of Iranians took their fight through a holy breach on Saturday from which there appears to be scant turning back.


The issues now go far beyond the vote count. The regime has turned on its own people.

As Juan Cole wrote in responding to Mir Hossein Mousavi’s speech denouncing the supreme leader Ali Khamenei:

Mousavi has thrown down a gauntlet before the Supreme Leader and a battle has been joined. By the rules of the Khomeinist regime, only one of them can now survive. And perhaps neither will.

I don’t see how this does not end in a bloody mess. The only hope is that a sufficiently large portion of the security force decides they don’t want to slaughter their friends and families.

And perhaps there is reason to be hopeful. Via Brian Leiter, an Iranian/American philosopher writes of the utter bankruptcy of the regimes ideology and its loss of legitimacy.

The corruption, the impoverishment, the decline of Iran under the clerics, especially Ahmadinejad is undeniable. With dwindling and poor management of resources, this regime is facing a very young, fairly educated population that wants more. Distractions – like picking fights with Israel and even the Iranian nuclear program in the name of pride and sovereignty – only go so far.  At this point, Iran needs to develop its infrastructure; it must provide for its people, it must meet the demands of its young population, including its need for greater freedom. Regardless of its posturing, it has little credibility left. […]

Had this regime had any actual pull, it would have left Moussavi come to power and be an utter disappointment, while allowing some softening of the international discourse toward Iran.   No longer believing in itself, it resorts to amateurish rigging and violence. Once a government starts shooting at its own people, it is signaling its own eventual end. The clerics should know that; that is how they came to power when the Shah brought his army to quash the protests in 79.

It is to be hoped that such disenchantment is shared by the people with the guns.


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1. Paul J. Moloney - June 22, 2009

One would think, that if there were anything to religion, it would lend itself to freedom rather than to tyranny.

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