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Haven't read through all the comments, having been off ET for a couple days playing good tourist, and stuffing my face with food and drink, so apologies if I'm just repeating stuff others have said, but a few thoughts.

I don't see this succeeding. I wish I did. However what I see is a regime which not only holds the normal state levers of power, but whose apparatchiks and shocktroops still deeply believe in the state ideology, and which benefits from a large minority of the population with a similar attitude. Furthermore, it is its own entity, not a client state of a major power. It also has little need for foreign support, nor has it ever needed that.

When these kinds of revolutions succeed, it is generally where the rank and file of the regime is made up of careerist opportunists, who only pay lip service to the True Vision of the World. I don't mean that in their heart they oppose it, simply they don't care. There only reason to  with the regime is out of fear of losing their livelihood (or worse). If they see things going south, their instinct is going to be to seek an accomodation with the opposition, and they will be very wary of mass bloodshed since that enormously increases the risk to themselves. But in Iran, these people also have a strong personal investment in the nature of the system. Which is not to say that the other factors arent't there, but they are not the primary ones.

Also the nationalist factor doesn't work for the protesters the way it did in so many of the Soviet and American authoritarian client states. It is at best neutral, and probably on the side of the regime.

by MarekNYC on Sun Jun 21st, 2009 at 05:49:45 PM EST
I do think Khamenei is toast, though. He doesn't seem to have the support of the police, military, or clerics.

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 21st, 2009 at 06:07:29 PM EST
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Well for the state to change, a major part of the state really needs to go over to the rebellion, and absent something like a senior genrals grandchild being shot in the protests, or the state deciding that the army is unreliable, and screws up taking control, or deciding that the oil firms are riddled with US and UK agents bent on the overthrow of the state. It's all up to the state to loose. panic is really their biggest enemy.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jun 21st, 2009 at 06:33:57 PM EST
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I think it is likely that Khamenei of Ahmadinejad will panic, but they're not the "regime", they are one faction. Montazeri and Khatami are clerics, Mousavi has not reneged on Khomeini and he was the Prime Minister during the Iran-Iraq war.

So expecting "regime change" is a bit much, but if the opposition is patient they will eventually force Khatami to make a fatal mistake.

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 22nd, 2009 at 04:22:57 AM EST
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We're in the early stages.  The 1979 revolution started in January 1978 and ended a year later when the Shah left for exile and Ayatollah Khomeini flew in at the end of January.

From the wikipedia article:

The revolution was unique for the surprise it created throughout the world: it lacked many of the customary causes of revolution (defeat at war, a financial crisis, peasant rebellion, or disgruntled military); produced profound change at great speed; was massively popular; overthrew a regime heavily protected by a lavishly financed army and security services; and replaced an ancient monarchy with a theocracy based on Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists (or velayat-e faqih). Its outcome -- an Islamic Republic "under the guidance of an 80-year-old exiled religious scholar from Qom" -- was, as one scholar put it, "clearly an occurrence that had to be explained."

The environment is different, of course, but the mythology of 1979 is certainly an influencing factor today.  For both sides.

There's no question in my mind the regime has the military hardware needed to bring this thing to a bloody, halt.  The Revolutionary Guards - the armed wing of the Ahmadinejad faction - certainly has the equipment and trained personal to use the equipment that, deployed, would overpower a bunch of people throwing rocks.  

IF they are prepared to water the streets with the blood of their fellow countrymen.

At this point, the regime and, perhaps, the leaders of the National Guard are not willing to do it and/or those who are willing to do it are being restrained.

Why?

Don't know.

I merely observe what is not there.  ;-)

The situation is obviously unstable.  Iran cannot continue forever with their major cities paralyzed with protesters, police, militia, and who-knows-who fighting it out on their streets in an escalating cycle of violence.  Recent history, e.g., the 1979 Revolution, shows Iranians ARE willing to accept political and economic chaos over a sustained period of time when they feel it is necessary.

In one analysis, the street protests are going on in the forefront in a background of a power struggle within the Iranian elite.  In a sense, the Greens are being protected by the regime; more precisely, some faction(s) within the regime as a weapon against another faction(s).  Until the struggle within the Elite is ended the regime, one might say, is fighting itself.

One other thing ...

Chris Cook and other people have continually remarked on the difficulty of getting low level bureaucrats and apparatchiks of the regime to make a frickin' decision.  They just won't do it.  This tendency operative under "normal" conditions is going to be even more so when these people are under stress.  They will hem, haw, waffle, and shuffle paper even with orders they would process as a normal day's work previously.  With the top level fighting each other for political survival and the mid-to-low level paralyzed it's impossible for the regime to function.  Even at the dysfunctional level they usually operate on.

So far, and we're are in the early innings, the regime has yet to muster the Will to Fight with all the weapons available.  Until they gin it up the strategic advantage is with the Greens.

(Tho' there is some problems there, as well.)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Jun 21st, 2009 at 11:51:00 PM EST
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