Monday, December 28, 2009

Iran's Chaos

Juan Cole lays out just how extensive Iran's protests have become:
"Another remarkable dimension of Sunday's events was the sheer number of cities where significant rallies and clashes occurred. Some of those allegedly killed are said to have fallen in Tabriz, a northwestern metropolis near Turkey. Even conservative cities such as Isfahan and Mashhad joined in. Shiraz, Ardabil, the list goes on. The attempt of some analysts to paint the disturbances as a shi-shi North Tehran thing has clearly foundered.

"The most ominous sign of all for the regime is the reports of security men refusing orders to fire into the crowd...

"Richard Spencer of the Independent reports from Dubai on the darker side of Sunday's events, as crowds went on rampages, setting fire to banks, government buildings and even a local police station in response to the use of live ammunition on them by security forces. They threw up barricades and set fire to them, as well as to basiji motorcycles, filling the streets with shooting flames and hovering smoke."

What strikes me most about these events is that the government has only thown fuel on the fire. Had they just let the Ashura protests and Montazeri funeral go on with minimal violence, things might have diminished. I commented over the summer that the biggest problem for the reformists was the lack of a hook for future protests, but now the crackdown itself has become the hook. Furthermore, as one of Andrew Sullivan's readers notes, the next couple of months lend themselves to protests:
"I think one way to explain the regime's brutality is by looking at the calendar. There are two important national holidays coming up, the first one is "Arba'ain" it is the 40 day anniversary of third Shia imam (who died in "Ashura" which was today), this will be also the 40 day anniversary of everyone killed today (I think it will be Feb. 5th). The second one is 11th Feb. the anniversary of Iranian 1979 revolution which is a national holiday accompanied by mass rallies.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



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