The Regime Strikes Back; Massive Pro-Khamenei Rally in Tehran

Today’s dramatic events in Iran reminded me a little bit of the dueling demonstrations mounted by the Lebanese in spring of 2005, when pro-Syrian forces brought out nearly 1,000,000 protesters, only to be answered by crowds nearly as large mobilized by Hizbullah. In Iran on Wednesday, the regime bussed in tens of thousands of supporters, with banners and placards, who chanted in favor of the hard-liners. Traditional preachers assured the faithful that the holy day of Ashura belonged solely to the religious the observant, a way of slamming the political opposition as atheists in mullahs’ clothing.

AP has video, and mentions pro-government rallies in Shiraz, Arak and other provincial cities, as well.

Some of the demonstrators wore white burial shrouds to announce their willingness to die for supreme leader Khamenei. Others chanted slogans denouncing the dissidents as apostates, that is as persons who had abandoned Islam and therefore deserved the death penalty. Some said, “Death to Mousavi, Death to Karroubi,” the opposition leaders. A leading cleric from the eastern city of Mashhad, Sayyed Ahmad Alam ol-Hoda warned that the political opposition had veered into becoming enemies of or warriors against the Islamic state and therefore of God, and thereby warranted trial and execution. He threatened them with chastisement not only at the hands of the state security forces but also those of the people– that is, he menaced the green movement with vigilante, KKK-type popular attacks. The Green Movement characterized his speech as an attempt to radicalize the country.

The regime therefore not only engaged in counter mobilization, but it also took steps to completely deny legitimacy to the dissidents, with hard-liners threatening to turn the leaders of the green movement into fugitives and common criminals. FT reports that a Revolutionary Guards site said Mousavi was under house arrest. Indeed, rumors were spread around that former presidential candidates Mir Hosain Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi had fled Tehran to points north. This attempt to demoralize the opposition by suggesting that their leaders had abandoned them largely failed, since dissident websites were quick to deny the rumors. They took revenge for the calumny by alleging that supreme leader Khamenei was keeping his private jet ready to fly him to Russia.

The opposition also alleged that another prisoner-mistreatment scandal was brewing, with 500 prisoners arrested during Sunday’s protests being mistreated at a facility at Eshratabad.

It was a day then of a massive counter rally and of dueling propaganda jabs. Despite the pro-regime masses in the streets of the capital, the increasingly ominous threats of no more Mr. nice guy from the Tehran police chief, and the intimation by hard-line clerics that they would not scruple to return to the days of terror that marked the 1980s, it seems hard to believe that even regime stalwarts imagine that such measures will be sufficient to silence the opposition or to end the crisis that roils Iran with seeming greater ferocity every day

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23 Responses

  1. oh, how do we resolve this terrible crisis…I know; let's BOMB them a little. btw, if the "greens" were in power, how d'ya think they'd handle hostile demos?

  2. Mr. Cole-
    Thanks for all you do and continued good luck in the new year to you and your loved ones.
    Peace to all and especially those who struggle for freedom in the Middle East.

  3. Those who sought to write off the movement argued that it was too disparate and confused in its goals to keep momentum. Some, like Because the authorities cannot prevent people gathering for official political and religious events, activists have hijacked such occasions with anti-regime slogans and displays. As a result, some of the most potently symbolic dates in Iran, including Qods Day – a government-backed day of protest supporting the Palestinians – and the November anniversary of the US embassy siege in 1979, have served as further evidence of how far Iran’s fissures widened this year.
    . The fact that Jamaran, revered due to its place in the annals of the Islamic Republic and usually well guarded, could be breached by thugs is an ominous sign indeed.

    The day after Khatami was forced to abandon his speech amid the sound of breaking glass and frenzied yelling, Iran witnessed the deadliest street violence since the summer. More than eight people were killed, including Mousavi’s nephew, and many others arrested. Serious disturbances had been expected that day. The death a week beforehand of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the dissident cleric who had become something of a spiritual guide for the opposition, meant the religiously significant seventh day of mourning for him took place on Ashura, the most emotionally charged occasion in the Shia calendar. Ashura commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the prophet Muhammad’s grandson, who was killed by the caliph Yazid.

    The bloodshed on this year’s Ashura will only serve to reinforce the parallels which opposition supporters had already drawn between their narrative and Shia traditions which tell of how Imam Hussein, denied his rightful position as caliph, challenged the tyrannical rule of Yazid. Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, now based in Paris, argues that, with the Ashura deaths, the Iranian regime has crossed a perilous line. “No religious person would accept the killing of Muslims on this day,” he said this week. “Now with the killing of [Mousavi’s] nephew, [Mousavi] is Imam Hussein and [Iran’s Supreme Leader] Khamenei is Yazid in the minds of many people.”

    It all adds up to a deep sense of foreboding as Khamenei plots his next move to further shore up the legitimacy of his own rule as Supreme Leader, and the regime itself. Contacts in Tehran and other Iranian cities – whether opposition supporters or critics of the movement’s aims and methods – tell me of their fear over what might unfold next.

    One friend described her family’s desperation after a relative was swept up in last weekend’s arrests, despite having no connection with the protests. Nothing has been heard of him since. Another contact, related to a high-profile reformist figure detained earlier this week, told me his family has urged him to abandon plans to return to Iran for the time being.

    Earlier this month, before the violence of Ashura, Mousavi issued a statement saying the regime was fighting “shadows in the streets” while “its strongholds are constantly falling” in people’s minds.

    The events of the past week have poisoned the atmosphere to a far more dangerous degree. It may herald a more violent and unpredictable phase of the existential crisis that has convulsed the Islamic Republic during this, the 30th anniversary of the revolution that brought it into being.

    Many expect the traditional cyclical mourning periods for those killed this week to result in fresh waves of protests and unrest far into 2010. The coming year may well prove to be the Islamic Republic’s greatest test yet.

    link to irishtimes.com

  4. The regime no longer has a political path out of its predicament. Ironically, this was the shah's

    dilemma, as he made concessions too late to fortify his power and broaden the social base of his government…

    ..Meanwhile, as the movement continues to defy authorities, it is likely to become more radicalized. Signs of such militancy are already obvious: The slogans of some demonstrations have changed from demanding the sanctity of the vote to rejecting the entire Islamist enterprise…

    The most remarkable aspect about the events in Iran since June has been the opposition's ability to sustain itself and to generate vast rallies while deprived of a national organizational network, a well-articulated ideology and charismatic leaders…

    The Islamic Republic, like the Soviet Union, is a transient phenomenon. America's embrace of individual sovereignty will place it on the right side of history as the fortunes of history inevitably change.

    link to washingtonpost.com

  5. Iranian Police Vehicle Purportedly Runs Over Protester (VIDEO)
    digg Huffpost – Iranian Police Vehicle Purportedly Runs Over Protester (VIDEO) stumble reddit del.ico.us

    link to huffingtonpost.com

  6. sums it up well:

    ما جواب می دهیم: اواخر بازی است. سلاح شما گلوله و نیرنگ است و خشونت. ما به روح ایران مجهزیم. به عشق. به مسالمت. کمی تاریخ را ورق بزنید. تازیان ومغولان را خوی انسانی دادیم، شمایان که رقمی نیستید….

    You can read Persian, right???

  7. ساعت 4 به سمت جام جم برویم. مجبورند ماشین های زرهی خود را به ولیعصر بیاورند و ترس خود را به نمایش بگذارند .( همین برایشان کافیست)
    Just passed 7tir sq. at least 100 anti-riot police in full gear standing there :) they R highly afraid.
    meydan shahriar; basij are so scared, they shaved their beards so they can blend (caller from iran)

    From developing News:

    link to iranian.com

  8. A battle that marks the beginnings of a greater war for the future of Iran

    by From Tehran
    29-Dec-2009 (5 comments)
    I see a throng of security forces present in the Enqelab Sq. A view on the walkway bridge at the south of Enqelab Sq offers an intimidating view: scores of motorcyclists; units of armed police, wearing helmets and holding riot shields, crowd the square. I pass the police, casually making my way through the crowd. Near the entrance of the University of Tehran, however, the pedestrians are stopped. “Turn back!” the baton whirling guard shouts>>>

    link to iranian.com

  9. This is how neocons think:

    "So, terrible as it is, it's actually in our interest for the Iranian regime to hold on as long as possible, and crack down as brutally as it can, so as to radicalize (i.e., de-Islamize) as much of the population as possible."

    link to corner.nationalreview.com

  10. BBC revealing Brits funded ayatollahs in 79

    link to bbc.co.uk

    Hopefully we'll get a peak into Algiers accord and get details of how the islamic merceneries sold Iran for power

  11. The Shah orchesstrated same type of pro government demonstration too. Look at the newspaper clipping from that era:

    link to iranian.com

    ah, the irony!

  12. This is the gift of Islam to us people. 1400 years of Mullahs being nobodys. Never in our history had we ever trusted them. They had to hijack a revolution, which was a mistake from inception. Now we finally realize that Mullahs are the ills of this country if not the world. Getting rid of the IRI is only the fist step in cleansing Iran of Islam and its backward Arab mentality. The day we can claim Muhamad and his clan defects and muderers is the day we have acheived freedom.

  13. It is the good fortune of Iran's people that they are ruled by Allah's hand-picked representatives on earth. God loves the Islamic Repubic, no matter how brutal, corrupt, venal and thieving its leaders may be.

    Does it matter if the educational system plummets, the economy goes belly up, human rights are totally forbidden and Iran's Supreme Leaders have kept Iran from reaching its great potential for 30 years now? No!

    As Khamenei observes, "the common people should not be bothered by temporal concerns like how long they must wait for a paycheck, whether they can pay next month's rent or whether they have food on their tables These are distracting temporal concerns and reflect temptations encouraged by Satan."

    It is the good fortune of Iran's people that they are ruled by Allah's hand-picked representatives on earth. God loves the Islamic Repubic, no matter how brutal, corrupt, venal and thieving its leaders may be.

    Does it matter if the educational system plummets, the economy goes belly up, human rights are totally forbidden and Iran's Supreme Leaders have kept Iran from reaching its great potential for 30 years now? No!

    As Khamenei observes, "the common people should not be bothered by temporal concerns like how long they must wait for a paycheck, whether they can pay next month's rent or whether they have food on their tables These are distracting temporal concerns and reflect temptations encouraged by Satan."

    It is the good fortune of Iran's people that they are ruled by Allah's hand-picked representatives on earth. God loves the Islamic Repubic, no matter how brutal, corrupt, venal and thieving its leaders may be.

    Does it matter if the educational system plummets, the economy goes belly up, human rights are totally forbidden and Iran's Supreme Leaders have kept Iran from reaching its great potential for 30 years now? No!

    As Khamenei observes, "the common people should not be bothered by temporal concerns like how long they must wait for a paycheck, whether they can pay next month's rent or whether they have food on their tables These are distracting temporal concerns and reflect temptations encouraged by Satan."

    Khamenei is right to point out what counts–life in the next world, not this one. He offers superb advice: The best way to guarantee a wonderful afterlife is to obey those chosen by God and question nothing.

    Iranians should never be upset if Khamenei and friernds have accumulated wealth even Croesus would envy. Their leaders got "stuck" with such luxuries as part of their battle against Satan. Rather than complaining, Iran's people should thank leaders who endure such sacrifices to protect the people from similar temptations.

    Llike most of the ruling elite, Khemenei started out in poverty. Khamenei likes to remind the people about that so they will identify with him. You can read his biography–complete with a "sissy boy" photo from his youth–on the Supreme Leader's website.

    The Islamist system changed everything for the Khameneis ("Thank you, Allah!"). Over 30 years, the family accumulated more than $36 Billion (No, not million!)–more temptation than they can ever spend. Other members of the ruling elite have suffered similar afflictions. Some uncharitable critics decry that and wrongly charge good people with corruption

  14. Thursday, December 31, 2009
    The Pitiful Pro-Government Rally in Karaj
    They are protected, they are transported and they will be fed as well, but they are so few
    :))

    More people turned up for the pro-government rallies in the last days of the Shah's rule.
    link to azarmehr.blogspot.com

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