Pictures from the front line

Here is a remarkable Flickr gallery on “Iran”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/fhashemi/sets/72157619758530748/show/. Here you will see Iranians setting fire to a poster of “Ayatollah Khamenei”:http://raymankojast.blogspot.com/2009/06/people-set-khameneis-billboard-on-fire.html. The Iranian regime’s favorite words are “Marg bar [insert name of enemy]“– “Death to [insert name of enemy].” Generally the “enemy” is America and Israel. Recently it has been those who oppose Khamenei. So now the demonstrators are turning that around with cries of “Marg bar diktator.” No translation needed.

Weep for Iran, cheer the Iranians

The news from Iran is overwhelming and overwhelmingly tragic. The Islamic Republic was never, as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed on June 19, 2009, a “religious democracy.” It was always a dictatorship with some window dressing of constitutionalism and representative government.

As Samira Makhmalbaf, an Iranian filmmaker “said”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/20/world/middleeast/20iran.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all on the same day:

bq. “Until Friday we had 80 percent dictatorship and 20 percent democracy, and since Friday we have 100 percent dictatorship.”

Iran is bleeding. Iranians are, however, demonstrating great courage. They are on the streets defying a bloody regime. They know that their government will stop at nothing to stay in power. Yet still they turn out on the streets and absorb the blows of the police and the vigilantes.

For some Americans, Iran can seem a place only of menace and darkness. If you are worried by the conduct of the Iranian regime, you have understood the country better than many commentators. What Americans now see is that Iranians are a people with spirit who are not easily broken. For all the claims that Americans are an unsophisticated bunch, they know that a regime and its people are not one and the same. What has happened in recent weeks has confirmed that instinct.

Are those protesting true believers in democracy? We do not know, because they have never been given the chance. What we do know is that they reject the dishonesty of a repressive theocracy. For that reason alone, we should stand with them.

Let us weep for Iran. Let us cheer the Iranians.

You cannot be serious!

How else can you react to Reza Aslan’s notion that the Iranian regime’s electoral system allows for “greater diversity of religious and political thought” (thanks to “Michael Goldfarb”:http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2009/06/reza_aslan_in_praise_of_irania_1.asp at TWS)?

The Iranian constitution’s “article 115″:http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/ir00000_.html contains many discriminatory elements.

The president must be from a defined group of “religious and political personalities.” The word for “personalities” is _regal_. It has until recently been interpreted to mean a man. Certainly no woman has ever been allowed to run. That means 50% of Iran’s population is excluded from running for the presidency.

Article 115 also states specifically that only members of the official _madhab_ (school of Islamic jurisprudence) can run for the presidency. That is a religious test which excludes the 20% of Iranians who are not Shia Muslims. Such a religious test is illegal in the U.S.A. according to article VI of the constitution.

You cannot be serious!

Europeans behaving well

Yesterday embassies of EU countries “opened”:http://raymankojast.blogspot.com/2009/06/list-of-embassies-accepting-injured.html their doors to casualties. They were near the clashes and there were rumors that the Basij vigilantes were waiting at the hospitals. EU countries have also been vociferous in their criticism of Iranian regime violence.

It is about Iran, not about America!

There is a silly debate starting about the impact of President Obama on the Iranian election. It is worth noting that President Obama is making no such claims. Here are some examples:

bq. “’Whereas the Bush administration united Iran’s disparate political factions against a common threat, Obama’s overtures have accentuated the deep divisions and incongruities among Iran’s political elites,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (from the “BBC”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8111290.stm).

bq. Could there be something to all the talk of an Obama effect, after all? A stealth effect, perhaps?

And in his Cairo address June 4, he accepted responsibility for America’s part in the enmity between the United States and Iran.

“In the middle of the cold war, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government,” Mr. Obama said — a reference to the 1953 coup in which an Iranian prime minister, under whom Iran had nationalized its oil industry, was overthrown and the now-despised Shah was restored to power. (from “The New York Times”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/weekinreview/21cooper.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all).

So is there “an Obama effect” in Iran?

Short answer: No

Long answer: No

Why? Because the Clinton Administration made the same overtures. “Here”:http://www.fas.org/news/iran/2000/000321-iran1.htm and “here”:http://newsmine.org/content.php?ol=coldwar-imperialism/iran53/gesture-to-iran.txt are links to stories from 2000 in which Madeleine Albright acknowledged the U.S. role in the 1953 coup in Iran. President Obama is saying little different from his last Democratic predecessor.

What has changed is Iran. Back in 2000 Iran was run by a so-called reformist who was running into opposition from the same forces that have recently showed just how dishonest Iran’s system is. Today Iranians are on the streets in protest against that act of massive electoral fraud and the regime’s violent response.

It is about them. It is not about us.

What they are chanting in Iran

Here is a video from yesterday’s protests in Tehran with a translation of the chants.

“Death to the Dictator” (see earlier “post”:http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/06/pictures-from-t.php)

“As long as Ahmadinejad is in power, the situation will be the same”

“Allahu Akbar” (God is Great)

“People why are you sitting…Iran is becoming Palestine” (The Iranian regime never tires of talking about the Palestinians)

“Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein” (A reference to “Hossein”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Husayn_ibn_Ali and then to Musavi, whose first names are “Mir Hossein”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mir-Hossein_Mousavi)

“Do not fear…we are all together”

More eyewitness reports

Thanks to “RFE/RL”:http://www.rferl.org/content/Elys_Tehran_Diary_Tear_Gas_Left_White_Trails_We_Could_Hear_Gunshots/1759113.html.

Confrontation looms

The Iranian activist blog “Raye Man Kojast? “:http://raymankojast.blogspot.com/ reports that the authorities have “denied”:http://raymankojast.blogspot.com/2009/06/permission-denied-for-saturday-rallies.html Musavi permission to march tomorrow. Sounds like Iranians will have to defy the Islamic Republic again–as they have done for the last week.

P.S. _Raye man kojast_ means Where is my vote?

Who says Iranian regime media has no sense of humor?

Only Press TV (beautifully mocked by “Harry’s Place”:http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/06/19/off-the-buses/) could come up with this headline:

bq. “Ahmadinejad to ‘improve world’”:http://www.presstv.ir/detail/98517.htm?sectionid=351020101

Iranian demonstrators ignore threats

Iran’s protesters are ignoring the intimidation handed out by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei this morning.Instead, Musavi has chosen not to comment, but will instead rally people tomorrow afternoon in Tehran. Below is a statement from an Iranian reformist blog “Campaign 88″:http://campaign88.persianblog.ir/ (this year is 1388 in the Iranian calendar).

bq. “Reformist Blog: ‘Destiny-Making’ Protest March To Go On in Tehran 20 Jun 09″:http://raymankojast.blogspot.com/2009/06/reformist-blog-destiny-making-protest.html

The destiny-making march will take place at 1600 [1130 gmt] on Saturday [20 June] in the company of Messrs [Mehdi] Karrubi, [Mir-Hoseyn] Musavi and [Mohammad] Khatami from Revolution Square towards Azadi ["Freedom" Square].

bq. We call on all the supporters of reform and change to have an overwhelming presence so that their cries are a protest at cheating and lying and backing for it at the highest levels of the system. May the massive crowd make all officials, who do not attach the slightest value to the people’s votes, tremble.

The Ghost of Howard Baskerville

“Howard Baskerville”:http://www.howardbaskerville.com/ was an American from Nebraska who died fighting with the Constitutionalists against Iran’s despotic King Mohammad Ali Shah in the Azeri-Iranian city of Tabriz in 1909. He was only 24 years old when he was shot through the heart and buried there. You might not have heard of him, but many Iranian nationalists consider the man a hero even now.


Howard Baskerville

For the next nine days, Howard Baskerville’s ghost will be filling in for me on this blog.

Let me explain: Nine months ago I planned a short nine-day vacation — my first in almost four years — with some friends. Most of it has been paid for already. I would not have chosen such an electrifying time in history to drop off the face of the world had I known what was going to happen. (In case you just woke up from a week-long nap, there is an uprising in Iran that may change the country forever.) And I certainly don’t want to leave this Web site without fresh material on it for much of the remainder of June.

So please welcome “Howard Baskerville” who will keep you apprised of events while I am away. He’s a friend who needs to write under a pen name right now, he knows more about Iran than I do, so I think you should trust him.

And don’t forget to be nice in the comments.

Don’t Forget

I’m posting a huge amount of material on Iran at Commentary’s Contentions blog. I’ll be posting there through tomorrow. Just “click here and keep scrolling”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/category/contentions/contentions?author_name=totten.

See also “Why We Should Support the Green Revolution”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/hazony/70261 by David Hazony.

Party Like it’s 1979

Kevin Sullivan at RealClearPolitics and I were interviewed about developments in Iran on the Rick Moran show last night. You can listen to the podcast “here”:http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rickmoran/2009/06/17/Iran-Party-Like-its-1979.

The Iranian Revolution

I’m posting a huge amount of material on the Iranian revolution (and yes, it’s a revolution now) “over at Commentary”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/category/contentions/contentions?author_name=totten. I’ll be posting there for the next couple of days so I can get paid without having to ask for donations from readers here. So please don’t neglect to “follow me there”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/category/contentions/contentions?author_name=totten.

An Enemy of the World

The Islamic Republic regime in Iran is vividly revealing itself as an enemy of the entire world.

“Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei’s police and the Basij militia are using violence and terror to suppress the Iranian people at home. His terrorist proxies fire missiles at Israel while torturing, maiming, and murdering Palestinians. He sponsored a violent coup d’etat against the elected government in Beirut last year with his Hezbollah militia. He sponsors a terrorist insurgency against the elected government of Iraq, while his fanatical proxies shoot and kill American soldiers. A car bomb cell belonging to the regime’s Lebanese franchise was recently arrested in Azerbaijan, and more cells were rolled up in Egypt. Terrorists sponsored and encouraged by him and his predecessor, Ruhollah Khomeini, have murdered civilians from “Argentina “:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6085768.stm to “Japan”:http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/18/specials/rushdie-translator.html.

The regime’s only allies in the world are terrorist armies and Bashar Assad’s Baath Party state in Syria. Assad himself, like Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, is a pariah among the Arabs, Persians, Turks, Kurds, Azeris, and Israelis who make up the region.

Iranian civilians risk violent beatings and worse by the thousands for standing up to the regime in the streets and treating it as the enemy it clearly is. There is no better time for the rest of us to do so, as well, especially since such gestures carry far less risk for us. The Pasdaran have no divisions in Washington, Paris, or London.

Obama Administration officials still hope they can talk Khamenei out of developing nuclear weapons and supporting Hamas and Hezbollah. This is delusion on stilts. Khamenei can’t even compromise with his own regime or his hand-picked presidential candidates. He placed them under house arrest, along with a Grand Ayatollah, and deployed thousands of violent enforcers into the streets. Not only does he confront the world, he is at war with his very own country.

Understand the mind of a totalitarian. “Probe with a bayonet,” Vladimir Lenin famously said. “If you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push.”

The Khomeinists in Iran likewise only stop when they meet steel. In his book The Persian Night: Iran under the Khomeinist Revolution

, Amir Taheri describes how since 1979 the regime has always continued to push until, as he put it, it hits something hard. It’s hitting something hard right now within its borders. This is no time for mush from everyone else. The regime today is weaker than it has ever been. If the insurrection continues, a fast hard shove might well push it over. If the regime survives, it may well feel invincible.

“Read the rest in Commentary Magazine”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/totten/69651.


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