Revolution in Iran

Thoughts on and about the Iranian Revolution

Posts Tagged ‘Coup’

Pasdar* State

Posted by iranrevolution on June 29, 2009

Who controls whom? Is Khamenei in control of the Revolutionary Guards or are the Guards dictating policy and Khamenei is simply their front man? Who is the puppeteer and who is the puppet? As the 2009 Coup d’état enters its third week, this question is becoming of ever greater importance.

If Khamenei is still at the helm, then one have to ask why he has chosen to keep Ahmadinejad as president and why he has blatantly alienated half of the inner circle? What are his gains and what are his losses? Indeed, putting the pros and cons from his perspective on a scale, one begins to wonder.

Pros may be:

  1. Having a president who truly believes in an Islamic jurisprudence embodied by Khamenei.
  2. Preparing the way for his son, Mojtaba (and there is so much rumours doing the rounds that there has to be some truth there) to succeed him.

Cons have proved to be far more numerous

  1. Regime has lost its legitimacy both in and outside of Iran (and I am not getting into the debate if it ever has been legitimate)
  2. The tension and infighting within the ruling establishment has got to unprecedented levels, threatening the very existence of the regime from inside.
  3. The ensuing street protests on a level never seen since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Khamenei have managed singlehandedly to morph the election results protests into a genuine call for a complete overhaul of the regime. Effectively demanding its demise, a revolution has landed on Khamenei’s doorstep.
  4. The infallibility of Khamenei and the office he holds is seriously in question. Even if it would survive the current turmoil, the genie is out of the bottle and Khamenei is never going to be taken seriously nor is it likely that there is going to be a singular supreme leader in the future.

It should have been apparent even to Khamenei; that the stakes are truly high and I am frankly not convinced that he actually is grooming his son to succeed him. Iran is not North Korea. It remains then to believe that Khamenei chose to risk everything only to retain a president who is ideologically close to him instead of accepting a president who opposes his views on some major issues but that instead would probably guarantee, at least for the near future, the survival of the Islamic republic.

Hence, in comes the second scenario. The Revolutionary Guards, once an undisciplined group of volunteers with political views as broad as there are Iranians and with not much more weaponry than Kalashnikovs, have steadily gained power in Iran during the past thirty years. The young revolutionaries, who survived the internal cleansings of the corps, have climbed the proverbial ladder; spread their influence in every imaginable institution, governmental, economical or else in Iran. This has happened with not so little help from Khamenei himself who, specially at the beginning of his rein was a weak figure, a compromise to fill the void of shunned Ayatollah Montazeri; and who needed all the help he could get to establish himself as the supreme leader. So he bought the support of the Revolutionary Guards by simply agreeing to all their demands. Four years ago he went one step further, fiddled strongly with the election results back then, ousted the reformist Karroubi from the race and humiliated his former ally Rafsanjani, who because he embodied all that was wrong with the regime never stood a chance anyways, and handed the presidency to Ahmadinejad. With Ahmadinejad as president, the revolutionary corps was effectively running the country.

Four years on and the commanders of this mighty military, economic and political force were not too happy to lose their privileges by the hands of a former prime minister. One they helped to get rid of some 20 odd years earlier by simply abolishing his office all together. This time around Khamenei, as argued above, had much to lose if he would decide to meddle with the result just as he did last time. So the revolutionary guards staged a sort of a palace coup d’état, effectively forcing Khamenei to follow their lead. The pros and cons for the guards?

Pros:

  1. They maintain their power.
  2. Khamenei becomes a weak figure with not much authority, letting the Guards to expand their influence by directly dictating the state policies
  3. They can continue to do all this in the background with little direct attention to their affairs.
  4. There would be internal disputes in the highest echelons of power in Iran. But that suits the Revolutionary Guards just fine, offering them a golden opportunity to eliminate dissent within the ruling elite.

Cons:

  1. They would risk a revolution. The Revolutionary Guards expected that and unleashed the Basij militia on the people. Force, they assumed, will solve this problem

I conclude therefore by asserting that what we have witnessed so far is a coup d’état by the Revolutionary Guards. Unless the new Iranian revolution manages to keep up its momentum, we’ll witness much bloodshed inside and outside of the inner circles. This would indeed be the worst possible outcome for the Iranian nation, one that certainly this most sophisticated people do not deserve.

United we stand, divided we’ll be ruled by the Revolutionary Guards.

*Pasdar = guard, a member of the Revolutionary Guards

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The case against Moussavi

Posted by iranrevolution on June 24, 2009

The Iranian regime has been hopeful that the protests against the rigged presidential elections would have died out by now. This has after all been a carefully planned ballot box Coup d’état the likes of which has rarely, if ever, been seen before. Little did Khamenei expect or foresee the wrath that this last nail in the coffin of the republic would unleash. Khamenei has certainly at no point during his twenty years as supreme leader been publicly as humiliated as he is now. It is not just the crowds on the streets or on the rooftops that demand his removal, it is also the defiant attitude of Moussavi, Karroubi and even Rafsanjani that is making life miserable for this old man.

But the Islamic republic of Iran is a shrewd and ruthless player. It has succeeded in putting an end to 25 centuries of monarchical rule in Iran. In its early years, it survived assassinations, Khamenei himself is paralysed in his right arm due to a bomb planted in his microphone and Rafsanjani escaped another one, it managed to fight off eight years of Iraqi aggression, interestingly enough with Khamenei as president and Moussavi as its premier, but most importantly, it managed to kill or imprison or else silence every opposition to its dogmatic policies. In fact, quite a few of those men who accompanied Khomeini to Tehran from Paris were amongst those who were later executed. Even the first president of the republic, Banisadr, was impeached and later managed to flee the country allegedly dressed as a woman. So this regime has no qualms about getting rid of its former allies, Moussavi is certainly not going to be an exception and he should know, a lot of the atrocities happened during his tenor as premier. I am not suggesting that he was directly responsible for any of it, but he sure must have been aware of them. Of course, people can change.

To his credit, Moussavi has shown some backbone. Rezai, the former Revolutionary Guards’ head has already faltered and withdrawn his objection to the poll result – God knows how much pressure was exerted on him, but Moussavi is still defiant even though he must very much be aware of that a case against him is being prepared at this very moment. I can already see his broken image in court, much like Mossadegh, being remembered as the man who tried to challenge the 2009 ballot box Coup d’état. This is not an unlikely scenario. The hard line Keyhan newspaper (all links in Persian) has already accused Moussavi of being directly responsible for all the deaths and mayhem (his supporters, Kayhan accuses amongst other infinitely unbelievable stuff, were armed and martyred a mother and her child who had taken cover in a kindergarten), the intelligence minister (nothing intelligent about this man) suggests that Moussavi’s stab was heavily infiltrated by terrorist elements and Ayatollah Haeri Shirazi in a letter to Khamenei compares Moussavi to Banisadr, we all can see where that is heading.

There is however other possibilities. Khamenei is apparently buying time by agreeing to a five days postponement of the Guardian Council’s final report on the election. Perhaps, the protests ebb out, hardly likely, or Moussavi buckles. Perhaps Rafsanjani manages to get enough of the members of the Assembly of Experts on his side and challenges Khamenei’s position. Perhaps divisions within the revolutionary guards surface and throw in a new factor in the game. And perhaps the popular uprising brings down this regime once and for all.

The outcome is uncertain, watch this space.

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Coup d’état vs Revolution in Iran

Posted by iranrevolution on June 16, 2009

For the past few days I have been unable to write anything at all. I have been pinned in front of my computer, reading news, looking at images and clips, twitting and retwitting. Iran, its election, the attempted coup d’état and the popular reaction has preoccupied me completely.

I was only a young boy when the last great revolution happened. I can clearly remember the charged atmosphere, the demonstrations, the slogans, the fear and the excitement. I even partook in one of those huge demonstrations against the Shah; a sea of people chanting death to the Shah. I am not quite sure what I thought of it all back then. It must have felt exciting, exhilarating and at the same time, from my point of view, lacking meaning and purpose, the implications of what we were doing unknown. Back then, the Shah was not just a king, he was almost a God. I remember kids speculating if he ever went to the loo and if he did, did he wipe his own ass? Shah responded by different means, he declared marshal law and at times his soldiers would fire indiscriminately into the crowd, he apologised to the people and said that he understood their legitimate calls for democratic reforms, he even appointed a former opposition figure as prime minister but that too was too late. He fled the country; Khomeini returned to Iran from exile and 10 days after that, the regime of Shah was gone for ever.

Thirty years on, one revolution, an eight year war with almost a million casualties, thousands of political activist jailed and executed, personal freedoms curtailed, millions of Iranians exiled or self exiled, the revolution now finally seems to have come a full circle.

As each night people are shouting God is great on their rooftops, reminiscent of the nights before the first revolution, and as they gather in their million to protest against the regime in precisely the same street as I once did in my youth, I wonder how this one will end. Seven people died yesterday by the hand of the basij, the conservative paramilitary group close to current president Ahmadinejad, I hope that they are the last to be killed by this regime. I hope one day very soon, the people of Iran can proudly declare that they live in a true democracy, that the revolution they started thirty years ago, the last great revolution, has finally succeeded.

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