If the mullahs in Iran had any sense at all, they would find a way to reach a public rapprochement with politically useful members of the opposition that have taken to the streets in the biggest challenge to their authority since the 1979 revolution that put them in power. Of course, if they had any sense at all, they wouldn’t have botched the rigging of the election that created the crisis in the first place. In that pigheaded vein, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei vowed to stand his ground and crush the revolt — and reconsider diplomatic ties with Western nations:
Iran’s supreme leader said Wednesday that the government would not give in to pressure over the disputed presidential election, effectively closing the door to compromise with the opposition.
Iran also said it was considering downgrading ties with Britain, which it has accused of spying and fomenting days of unprecedented street protests over the vote.
“On the current situation, I was insisting and will insist on implementation of the law. That means, we will not go one step beyond the law,” Khamenei said on state television. “For sure, neither the system nor the people will give in to pressures at any price.” He used language that indicated he was referring to domestic pressures. …
The government accused Britain of using spies to foment the unprecedented street protests and Iran expelled two British diplomats Tuesday. Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that two Iranian diplomats were being sent home in retaliation.
The smart move for the mullahs would be to find ways to split the opposition, which has been broad-based and unorganized. Khamenei could find a few people with credibility among the street protesters, announce a commission to address some of the less-threatening complaints in the system, or offer mid-level positions in the government to them. That would essentially co-opt enough of them to confuse and distract the people in the street. Not all of them want an end to a theocratic-based system, and the opportunity for splitting the masses seems pretty good — for a tyrant with an ounce of insight.
Instead, Khamenei plans to make it worse. Not only has he set up special courts to try the protesters, which makes clear the political nature of their prosecution, but now Khamenei wants to curtail ties with another Western nation, the UK. One reason people poured into the streets is growing frustration over the mullahcracy’s record of making Iran a pariah nation, creating trade barriers that bite into the average Iranian’s pocket and reducing the prestige of their nation. Khamenei now proposes to isolate Iran even further, which will give momentum to the protesters.
Khamenei apparently has never learned the First Rule of Holes, but we can hope he learns it now — the hard way.