After nearly a week of protests, unrest in Iran continues to build — and it’s starting to look like an armed conflict. The regime in Tehran now acknowledges ten deaths in clashes with security forces, claiming to have “repelled” attempts to seize police stations and military bases. The violence will likely give the mullahs a pretext to unleash its forces on dissidents, but a tipping point may be reached where it will no longer suffice:
At least 10 people have been killed in nationwide protests in Iran over the past five days, Iranian state television said Monday, a day after President Hassan Rouhani appealed for calm and urged demonstrators to refrain from violence.
State television said security forces had repelled “armed protesters” who tried to take over police stations and military bases, the Associated Press reported. It was unclear where the alleged attacks took place, though some videos circulating online have showed protesters in violent confrontations with police. Ten people were killed Sunday alone, the state broadcaster said.
So-called “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani tried offering some soothing words on television last night in an attempt to defuse the bitter resistance forming on the streets. He acknowledged some of the complaints while attempting to divide the dissidents:
Rouhani, a moderate, acknowledged protesters’ grievances in a televised address Sunday night, saying Iranians had the right to criticize their government and call for more transparency. He chided demonstrators who have attacked government buildings and said protesters should not make the public fear for their safety.
The American press likes to label Rouhani a “moderate,” but that’s only true in the context of the inflexible theocracy whence Rouhani originates. Rouhani’s “moderation” mainly applies to messaging and fringe issues, not to the core of the Islamic Republic’s claim to absolute power. He’s as moderate as the extremist mullahs will allow, and no more. Rouhani is every bit the mullahs’ creature as was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and every other person allowed to run for public office by the mullahs. Rouhani cannot survive without Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, and he knows it.
So do the protestors, who seemed unimpressed with Rouhani’s lecture today:
#BREAKING Tehran Day 5 of #IranProtests with chants of "Death to the dictator". Brave ppl of #Iran defy the regime's warnings, crackdown and censorship to take to the streets demanding regime change. – video via MEK network. #FreeIran pic.twitter.com/FXo648wTlv
— M. Hanif Jazayeri (@HanifJazayeri) January 1, 2018
Note that they’re not shouting, “Death to the moderate!” The Iranian people understand who — and what — their oppressors are.
The Iranian government has tried to cripple organizers of the protests by cutting off access to the Internet and/or apps that run on it. The continued momentum of the protests show that no longer seems as critical to their success — or they have found ways around it. The “moderate” joined the rest of the theocracy in warning of dire consequences for continued protest:
The unrest continued unabated on Sunday, despite a government move to block access to Instagram and a popular messaging app used by activists to organize, with even President Hassan Rouhani acknowledging the public’s anger over the Islamic republic’s flagging economy.
“Those who misused cyberspace and spread violence are absolutely known to us and we will definitely confront them,” Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on state television.
Rouhani and other leaders made a point to warn that the government wouldn’t hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers amid the demonstrations.
Maybe Rouhani will only kill them moderately.
Writing at PJ Media, author Michael Walsh explains why Iranians could find themselves with a historic opportunity to redefine themselves. It’s their best opportunity in centuries to jettison colonialism as well as theocratic Islam, Walsh argues:
[T]he Iranian exiles who fled their country in the late Seventies and early Eighties (taking a great deal of wealth with them) for the U.S. and elsewhere have given birth to a new generation of secularized Iranians, who are in no mood to trade in the liberties of the West for the repressively “theology” of militant Shi’ite Islam. Having seen what happened to their parents and grandparents, they are unlikely to feel a sudden surge of Islamic patriotism; in fact, it has been the prospect of losing these people for the ummah that lies behind so much of the Islamic propaganda that has been allowed to flourish, shamefully, in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West since 9/11.
So let’s all root for the Iranians who are, once again, trying to overthrow their reactionary Islamic regime. A victory against the mullahs in Iran would have beneficial results for everybody except devout Shi’ite Muslims and their allies of convenience on the American, largely atheist and most certainly anti-Christian, Left. By removing the source of Hezbollah’s support, pressure would be relieved on Israel and on American forces still in the dar-al-Harb theaters of war. By demolishing rule-by-mullah, Iran would pose much less of a nuclear threat to civilized nations. And by freeing the Iranian people to choose a new government, the Western democracies could find a valuable new ally in a strategically importantpart of the world.
For millennia, the people of Iran have been unable to decide where to cast their lot. In its attempts to move westward, the Zoroastrian Persian Empire was defeated repeatedly by the Greeks, by Alexander the Great, and by the Byzantines; later, Persia was conquered by the Muslim Arabs, by the Mongols (who really put paid to the “Golden Age”) and by Tamerlane, among others. If Iran can successfully overthrow the Islamic Republic, de-institutionalize Islam, rediscover its own genuine nationalism, and elect a real republic in its place, this historically pluralistic nation will likely find a warm welcome.
Maybe this time, we can dispense with the curious notion that “moderates” exist in this extremist theocracy. That would at least give us some clarity as to the stakes involved, not so much for our domestic dispute over the nature of the deal our previous president cut with the mullahs but for the lives of the people Rouhani and his ilk oppress in Khameini’s name.