Follow Up on 11 February. What actually happened.

February 16, 2010

Follow up on 11 February, 2010.
What really happened?

As expected there were indeed protests throughout Iran, and not just in Tehran on 11 February. The regime had been preparing for these confrontations weeks before the latter date by arresting prominent political activists, students, and, as always, women courageously demanding their rights, and lastly journalists- according to Reporters Without Borders, Iran ranks at the top of countries with the most imprisoned journalists. Then on the day itself some 1000 protestors were arrested in Tehran.

Despite a ban on the media in general (having shut down Twitter and Google Buzz), the regime was unable to completely blank out news from Iran on that day. We have the testimony of video footage showing protestors pulling down posters of Khamenei, and trampling on them. Chants of "down with Khamenei" were heard during Ahmadinejad's speech. But the protestors were no match for the brutal tactics of the security forces which numbered in the thousands; shots were fired into the unarmed crowds, and at least one protestor was killed.The thuggish Basij militia smashed both former President Khatami and reformist leader Karroubi's cars as they sat inside.

But all is not well for Iran's theocracy as the opposition is not about to go away any day soon. The greater its brutality the greater the outrage in the country itself and round the world- Iranian exiles are also gathering energy and momentum in Western cities. Are the days of the regime numbered? It seems the leaders have already taken large sums of money out of the country, and have prepared their retreat.

Melik Kaylan at Forbes Magazine outlines the regional implications of the turmoil inside Iran, "Meanwhile, Moscow is backing away from supporting the regime: A top Kremlin security official announced this week that the West's "doubts were quite valid" about Iranian nuclear research. Promising, no? But here, to get a fuller picture, we must make a brief detour into old-style Kremlinology. A pro-Moscow candidate just won the Ukrainian Presidential elections with virtually no resistance from the West. Goodbye Orange Revolution, for now. Over in Georgia, the U.S. has quietly told President Saakashvili not to expect too much American support in future confrontations with Moscow. The Georgian opposition has made peaceable overtures to Putin. Goodbye Rose Revolution? Possibly. Russia is quietly re-leveraging its power over former dominions while furnishing us concessions over Iran--that's how it looks."

As Kaylan points out, if Iran's regime changes, the chances are that the support for anti-American Shiite elements in Iraq will fade away; Hezbollah in Lebanon will lose its patron, and Syria will lose its ally, and Iranian oil will start flowing westward again along with oil from a more stable Iraq. Iran seems to be inviting an attack on its nuclear facilities- how else does one explain Ahmadinejad's announcement of successful nuclear enrichment in front of the world media on Wednesday. If Israel or less probably the USA did attack, then the crackdown on the Iranian dissidents at home would be that much easier.