Fighting back in Tehran

a banned demonstration!

a banned demonstration!

I  have no detailed knowledge of what’s happening in Iran. However it seems fairly clear that the people of Tehran want their freedom and are pushing back hard at the regime.  The fact that Mousavi  is himself just as about reactionary as Ahmadinejad seems to be of little importance right now. The people are on the move.


It’s possible to get a bit of a feel for it by following the minute by minute commentaries on various twitter sites.  eg persiankiwi

With a Shia-based democracy taking root right next door in Iraq, I think the mullahs will be feeling really worried.  This may not be “it” for them, I’m sure there will be many twists and turns, but their days are clearly numbered.

24 Responses to “Fighting back in Tehran”

  1. 1 keza
  2. 2 keza

    Some Iranian Twitter feeds:


    Stop Ahmadi


    Gives a sense of the intensity, excitement and spirit of rebellion …. and how youthful it is. Modernity is sweeping Iran.

    Hitchens: Don’t Call What Happened Last Week in Iran an election

  3. 3 keza

    I think that Obama is correct in trying very hard not to appear to be meddling.

    For the same reasons that a US invasion of Iran would have been counter-productive, it’s very important right now not to give the Iranian regime any capacity to try to unite people around the idea that there is an American threat.

    I’ve always though that the regime in Iran could be toppled by the Iranians (in the short – medium term) … if that had also been the case in Iraq, I would have opposed the US doing it there too.

    Apparently, the reason Twitter postponed downtime due to scheduled maintenance was that the US State Department requested it. That’s interesting – and a clever move, I think.

    You can read about it here: US Steps Gingerly into Tumult in Iran

  4. 4 GuruJane

    Ah, Keza.

    Replace the Baath tyranny in Iraq with a representative democracy empowering the shia majority and all else will follow.

    That was the theory. And my goodness me here it is happening before one’s very eyes. Only a few months after the provincial elections cemented the Iraqi democracy and those purple fingers waved again. And not long after that the Kuwaitis elected four – FOUR – women to parliament.

    It occurred to me De Gaulle must be revolving in his grave – what if the Paris students had had Twitter?

    But it must be remembered that the full force of the state asserted itself in 1968. The hardline new-gen Rev Guards aren’t gonna give up without a fight. Perilous days ahead.

  5. 5 keza

    Catch the latest videos from Iran –

  6. 6 youngmarxist

    GuruJane’s comment implies an interesting point – the only way this will end up in favour of the protesters is if the State splits. There seem to be clues and signs that this might be happening – EG Iranian state TV broadcasting a protest rally that they’d been ordered not to.

    One thing I’ve found interesting in the discussions on Twitter etc is how, no matter how self-evidently important it is to support the Iranian protesters, there will always be people ready to sneer for one reason or another.

    Cory Doctorow has just posted a “Cyberwar Guide for Iran Elections” on Boing Boing.

    When people on Twitter were asking Twitter to postpone its planned upgrade, one person argued with me that this was a “lynch mob”. I’ve seen other comments putting down “pasty-faced” people for becoming “instant experts”, and another one asking when people on Twitter would get bored with the Iranian insurrection and move on to the next fad. I guess this just goes to show that no matter how good the cause, there will always be people waiting and ready to put their own corrosive cynicism above helping people who really need it.

  7. 7 youngmarxist

    Another interesting thing is that many of the same people who bitterly opposed neocon policy in Iraq are supporting the Iranian protesters. I’ve been tempted to jump in when they make comments about how dumb the neocons were in Iraq, but I keep reminding myself that that would just disrupt their support of the current fight.

  8. 8 Barry

    I think it’s worth forcing the point that the “neo-con” strategy in the region was based on the idea of supporting democratic aspirations in Iraq and making it a model for others. Were you one of the protestors in Iran at the moment, would Iraq strike you as evidence that oppressive regimes can be overthrown or not? And would the example of the democracy, based on federalism and multi-party competitive elections, without any Supreme Leader or Guardian Council,inspire you or not? It’s as basic as ‘which side are you on?’

    Con Couglin, in today’s Age newspaper (Melbourne 18 June 2009), argues that “Their primary aim in opposing Ahmadinejad’s election victory, therefore, is to reclaim some of the power and influence they once enjoyed, rather than to effect a radical change in the way Iran is run. It is for this reason that the democratic hopes of all those brave Iranians who have taken to the streets will ultimately be in vain. Even if Khatami were to sacrifice Ahmadinejad in the interests of preserving the regime, the President would simply be replaced by another Iranian leader whose first priority would be to protect the ideological foundations of Khomeini’s Islamic revolution”.

    As usual there are experts (presumably pseudo-left) sitting on the sidelines bemoaning the futility of trying to force change. Sigh – it’s all going to be in vain.

    What Coughlin, and The Age editor, don’t realize is that, while Mousavi may indeed not be much better than Ahmadinejad, the people in the streets see him as a symbol of opposition. They do not want more of the same. As with Iraq, the essential reactionary conservative line is that you’ll only get rid of one bad egg to replace them with another.

    It’s just terrific to see so many people illegally in the streets demanding greater freedom. Not much ‘doom and gloom’ in that context!

    Full text to Coughlin’s article here:

  9. 9 GuruJane

    From the pseudo left website Huffington Post – which along with the pseudo left Daily Dish (Andrew Sullivan) – has been going full bore since the revolution first erupted:

    “1:28 AM ET — The mourning rally. Thursday is gearing up to be a hugely significant day for the Green Uprising. Reza Aslan appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show tonight, and laid out the importance of what is going to happen:

    “What’s really fascinating about what’s happening right now in 2009 is that it looks a lot like what was happening in 1979. And there’s a very simple reason for that. The same people are in charge — I mean, Mousavi, Rafsanjani, Khatami, Medhi Karroubi, the other reformist candidate — these were all the original revolutionaries who brought down the Shah to begin with, so they know how to do this right.

    “And so what you’re going to see tomorrow is something that was pulled exactly out of the playbook of 1979, which is that you have these massive mourning rallies, where you mourn the deaths of those who were martyred in the cause of freedom. And these things tend to get a little bit out of control, they often result in even more violence by the security forces and even more deaths, which then requires another mourning rally which is even larger, which then requires more violence from the government, and this just becomes an ongoing snowball that can’t be stopped.”

    Explains why the “tone” of the structure of all of this has felt so well pitched as it has been unfolding. Two days ago they switched off the “sound” And since then the demonstrations have been conducted in total silence. If the security cycles approach, they all sit down. The YouTubes are amazing.

    Also, Reza Aslan could probably have added Grand Ayatollah Montazeri to that list. He is worth a google, comrades.

  10. 10 Dalec

    No Barry, the lesson people will draw from the Iranian popular uprising is that you don’t need the death and destruction dished out to Iraq by your US heroes to change the (clerical) fascist regime. You can do it yourself without US troops.
    That is your problem. If there is major change in Iran you have to explain why Imperial Conquest is the only way to liberation in the ME. If you had even a shred of consistency you would be calling for a US invasion.

  11. 11 Barry

    For any new readers: I have never said or argued that “Imperial Conquest is the only way to liberation in the ME”. dalec occasionally drops in to argue with the voices in his head.

    Watch out for my letter in ‘The Age’ tomorrow – it may, or may not, be published.

  12. 12 GuruJane


    Would this upheaval be occurring in Iran today if Saddam and the Baath regime was still in power? Saddam and Baath being Iran’s greatest regional threat, having invaded it in 1980?

    Please note: in asking this question, I am not looking for a “gotcha” – if you say “no”, it doesn’t invalidate your underlying position in my mind. ie I don’t see this issue as one of “Iran would still be the same so it was right for the US to invade Iraq. Suck it up” More as an ” Okay, but I don’t accept it is legitimate for the US or anybody to invade and regime/change another country, regardless of what effect it might have on other countries. Legitimate change can only come from within” argument.

    On the other hand, D, you might believe “Yes” or “Maybe” I’d be interested in your arguments in support of that contention, if so.

    Personally, have been very struck by the way the HuffPost and DailyDish have taken up the Iranian revolution cause. Have all sorts of theories running around in my head as to why these Obot pseudo left sites have jumped in to command the issue. Of course, they would only have done it with active encouragement from Obama White House. But there seems no doubt whatever they are also emotionally engaged. So I am interested to hear what you think, Dalec?

  13. 13 Arthur

    There’s not much doubt Iraqi democracy has thoroughly undermined the clericalist regime in Iran, despite language differences and will also undermine the various Arab autocracies.

    Also not much doubt the current protests mark a major turning point in that process – seems regime opponents mobilized around this election specifically to embarass the regime despite all candidates being pro-regime and almost as interesting, the candidate they mobilized around has actually contributed to destabilization despite being a major figure in the regime.

    Nevertheless I’m cautious about expecting too much from this first round. I haven’t been following Iran at all for quite a while but my impression is the regime still has a solid basis and it will take a lot more before it falls. In particular they still have a lot of rural support and the urban working class was very thoroughly crushed, leaving a weaker urban opposition.

  14. 14 Dalec

    Way back in “superpower” days I made the point that that the Iranian people are really bright sassy and young. They are making their own way and no amount of cheering from the sidelines will make any difference.

    I work with some young Iranian engineers and let me tell you that they are under no illusions about events in Iran. They have no time at all for any of the “leaders” fighting for the spoils of office.
    Just now I asked the Iranians about the thesis that the Iranians. were inspired by the advent of democracy in Iraq. They told me in no uncertain terms that such an idea was totally absurd. One even said “what democracy?”. These guys are totally involved with what is going on over there and stay up most of the night comminicating with their family and friends in all sorts of innovative ways (Faxing – would you believe).

    I do think tthat the external situation with Iraq has probably no bearing at all on the internal changes that are ocurring in Iran. I would remind you that the Russian revolution took place during an unprecedented world war.

    When the Baath party regains power in Iraq at the behest of the retreating US forces I doubt if it will have any impact in Iran at all.

  15. 15 Arthur

    When the Baath party regains power in Iraq at the behest of the retreating US forces I doubt if it will have any impact in Iran at all.

    I doubt that any event that happens or fails to happen in the real word could have any impact on the voices in Dalek’s head.

  16. 16 Dalec

    Poor Arthur – about the Baath party.
    Sarcasm is entirely lost to you.

    Could you plese provide a reference for the statement” There’s not much doubt Iraqi democracy has thoroughly undermined the clericalist regime in Iran, despite language differences and will also undermine the various Arab autocracies”.

  17. 17 Arthur

    Dalek, feel free to cite as “Arthur Dent, Strange Times, 2009-06-19T22:51”.

    However as GuruJane noted in this thread from the start, many years ago, lastsuperpower has notoriously been putting forward the theory that:

    Replace the Baath tyranny in Iraq with a representative democracy empowering the shia majority and all else will follow.

    You might find it interesting to review your various attempts here to refute that theory over the years, as the events confirming it unfold…

    A key point made early on is that although Iran cannot be affected by the existence of an Arab democracy in the same way as the various Arab autocracies will be, Iraq happens to be the center of the Shia religion and support for democracy by its clergy completely undermines the ideological foundations of the clericalist regime in Iran.

    A “western oriented” modern urban youth is nothing new in Iran. What’s new is the regime starting to split in the face of mass opposition.

    Incidentally my earlier predictions still stand that the Egyptian regime and the Israeli occupation were doomed by the invasion of Iraq (which motivated the hysterical overt opposition of the irst and covert opposition of the second). Its taking a lot longer than I expected, partly because the struggle in Iraq was harder than I expected, but the writing is so clearly on the wall now that it ought to be visible to anyone not suffering such vivid fantasies as to claim the Baath fascists will regain power in Iraq just because that is what they expected and predicted would happen when they trumpeted the absurdity of US imperialism supporting Arab democracy and raved about it being a war for oil.

    Frankly I don’t have the same interest in following the details now that its all over bar the shouting as I had when predicting future rather than current events.

  18. 18 GuruJane

    “Iraq happens to be the center of the Shia religion and support for democracy by its clergy completely undermines the ideological foundations of the clericalist regime in Iran.”

    It was most interesting (but really surprising) to see how quickly the shia clericals moved towards the secularists in Iraq once the insurgency had been defeated and the govt was secure. Last year the sharia law and religious courts imposed by the mahdhis in Basra, Maysan Province and Sadr City were abolished afer the Maliki government had defeated the mahdhi army and retaken control. Earlier of course the Sunni Arabs had rejected ALQIs islamic rule and its Baath collaborators and come over to US protection. Then the Iraqis banned all religious endorsement and propaganda for last January’s provincial elections. The Sadrists were pretty much marginalised as a political force in those elections by Maliki’s Dawa.

    Then the BBC/ABC poll in March saw 64% (!) nominating “Democracy” when asked what would be the best political system for Iraq. That compared to 43% in 2007. The number of people nominating “strong leader” fell from 34% to 14% (!) “Islamic State” has always been the least preferred option for Iraqis – 22% in 2007. But even this fell 3 pts to 19% by 2009.

    In contrast to Iraq, the democratic movement has always been strong in Iran, as evidenced by the herculean efforts apparently made by the hardline Islamists to bring it under control during and after Khatami’s time, culminating in this election. But there will never be another hostile Baathist Iraq to threaten Iran, and therefore no regional security pretexts to buttress the hardliners.

    On top of that there is the “Obama” effect. To my mind Obama is pushing the very same Bush agenda; can’t see any difference on any foreign policy issue. Even his declared intention to open negotiations with the current regime was an effective signal to the so-called “reformists” of 1979 – Rafsanjani, Mousavi etc – that it is “now or never” if they want to be the ones controlling the negotations with the US. Makes a good neo con, Obama does. Perhaps it IS all about oil, heh, heh.?

  19. 19 GuruJane

    ps – that was supposed to read “NOT really surprising”.

  20. 20 Arthur

    Yes its striking the extent to which hysterical opponents of Bush’s policies are quietly accepting or endorsing identical policies from Obama. Unfortunately part of the identity is that there was a significant tactical retreat in the last part of the Bush administration but mostly its a vivid confirmation of the usual pattern that pseudo-left supporters of bourgeois reformist parties militantly and extravegantly denounce the mainstream opponents of those parties in order to make themselves look more “left” than the particular stream of bourgeois politicing they in fact support.

    Its interesting that Moussavi’s spokesperson is openly appealing for Obama’s support against Ahmadedji described nre all that influence by US politics. That seems more a focus of western reporters still not adjusted to the declining significance of the last superpower in world affairs.

  21. 21 Dalec

    Arthur, GuruJane
    Obama follows an Imperial trajectory? Does a bear shit in the woods?
    Obama,(your “Lucky Boy”) may have a softer image but the imperatives of Imperial power drive him just as much as they did Bush. The US war in Afghanistan is a classic example of Imperial war; even ST has refrained from calling it a war for democracy.

    Sure the tactics adopted by Obamah are different but the strategic aims are the same.

    Your problem is that you are trying to pretend that the US has become this big warm source of all that is democratic and good in the world. Your endless ranting about the “pseudo left” is just ranting about a straw man, no-body gives a shit about that as is evidenced by the fact that virtually all the posts on this site come from a (very)small coterie of supporters.

    On Iran, as I have said before, the Iranian people will sort out the Mullas in their own way and in their own time and as for inspiration for democracy from Iraq, I could remind you that the people fought for a democratic state after WW2, established one and had it taken away in 1953 by your heroes the US. The US installed the Sha , remember that???
    Now you will argue that it was an imperfect democracy and all that shite.

  22. 22 Arthur

    Interestingly, as well as subsiding completely into defeated resignation and incoherent muttering over Iraq and Afghanistan, most of the pseudos don’t seem to even be attempting to defend the Mullahs in Iran. Doesn’t seem to be a sign of rethinking though, just sullen impotence.

  23. 23 Dalec

    Here is an item on Iran that people may find interesting.
    No doubt it is by some “pseudo leftist” or “Islamofascist” sympathiser.

  24. 24 Arthur

    Thanks Dalec. It certainly does provide a classic illustration of the sort of waffle pseudos find satisfying as a substitute for actual analysis, let alone solidarity with people being oppressed. Not much pretence at anything specifically “left” though, more a sort of “generic pseudo”. Still that too is helpful as a sign of the times.

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