Iran Protests Continue to Escalate
June 17, 2009 · Posted in Foreign Policy
A friend told me today that protests are not only going on in Tehran, but also in Shiraz and Isfahan. These suppressed protests are among the first in history to make extensive usage of modern technologies, such as Twitter. The effect of these tools as a catalyst should not be underestimated.
I am certain about one thing: The regime must be scared to death at this point. Otherwise they would already have clamped down much harder, as they used to. This reminds one of the protests from ‘78 and ‘79 which the Shah was no longer able to contain and basically began to tolerate as a concession.
We are witnessing events that Iran has not seen in 30 years. Never since the revolution have there been so many young educated people ready to take responsibility. Never have networking technologies thwarted the regime’s plans like they are now. Never since then have masses of people chanted “death to the dictator” on the streets.
In my view, what is going to happen in the days and weeks to follow hinges upon one crucial question: How much support does the current system still have in the rural areas of the country?
If there really is no big support for Ahmadinejad and for the establishment any longer, and the protests that are going on right now do not only reflect the mood of young city dwellers but of the general population, then I truly believe that the establishment is toast, and that all bets are off from hereon out.
If the opposite is true, then the protests will peter out sooner or later. We will likely see a massive crack down by the Revolutionary Guards, tons of political arrests, and a return to business as usual, for now.
If the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes, the current system may remain in place, but both sides will come together and meet somewhere in the middle. For example, Ahmadinejad might offer Moussavi some high post, so his supporters calm down, and the current power structures remain in place.
Only time will tell which direction Iran is going to take.
Some more clips from recent protests (some of rather graphic nature):