June 2009

Death to women!

The obsession with women, specifically with women’s dress, seems something of a sexual aberration on the part of the men in uniform seeking, often by brutal physical assault, to control them. This is another feature of primitive Taliban zealotry. A teenage girl who has perhaps held a boy’s hand is swung in her own burqa between two soldiers. She begs to be killed. Another teenage girl who had refused ‘marriage’ to a Taliban soldier is flogged. Such videos are perhaps too terrible to be watched.My green vote was not your black name!

A religion without humanity, let alone any concept of human rights. A religion of lies. Who needs it? No wonder thousands in Iran are converting to Christianity and Zoroastrianism.

The true believer

President Ahmadinejad is notorious for lying. He has lied so often about the economic facts that a number of members of the parliament publicly objected to him passing false information to the supreme leader and the public. Carelessness with truth does not do anything, of course, to rein in superstitious excess, as recounted here:

[O]ne of the very first innovative achievements of his government was to drop a letter of contract addressed to the 12th hidden Imam (Imam Zaman) in the Jamkaran Well near the City of Qom.  The rush of illiterate and superstitious people to this “Blessed Well” was so great that a duplicate well was constructed for the “sisters” to drop in their requests.

Tortured confessions

A hallmark of an unjust regime, short on evidence, is that it puts on show-trial individuals making confessions. This form of evil exhibitionism was a characteristic of Stalin’s purge-ridden Russia, where inflammatory public ‘campaigns’ (i.e. paranoid fantasies) succeeded one another, with scapegoated victims appearing in show trials where “everything was true except the facts”, as has been said.

The Regime of the Rat in Iran today is similarly illegitimate and paranoid. Add to that an Islamic ignorance of the rudiments of justice ─ and you get television appearances of people who have obviously been tortured and will confess to anything. This represents an insecure grasp of credibility. There is a photograph circulating ─ a protestor coup! ─ of a dark-garbed female television interviewee reading from a card being held up out of sight of the camera.Neda Iranian Statue of Liberty

Monopoly of monotony

I argued here some days ago  that the Iranian nation has had very little experience of government. It is a daily perceptible fact that there is no separation of powers within the polity which would ensure some vitality of administration. Thus the Supreme Leader can only be dismissed by the Assembly of Experts, a body whose members are themselves selected from clerics loyal and obedient to the supreme leader. Thus there is no dialogue or dialectic. This is because the regime is monistic – its features are monolithic, monopolistic and monotonous. In short, it lacks pluralism. Not surprisingly, there is no room in it for others whose views may be slightly different, no scope for constructive disagreement or useful criticism. In and of itself the regime must be retrograde, must lack the ability to cope with the challenges of time and change. It cannot move. It lacks signs of life.

It is a fact, therefore, one which Jonathan Swift would recognise as a sign that the regime is clinically dead, that

if the supreme leader says that yogurt is black then it is black.

Indeed, it is argued, according to the article cited above, that the duty to preserve the Islamic Republic comes even before the Moslem’s religious duties of prayer, zakat etc. This exposes the vacuousness of the entire enterprise: how could you know that preservation of the republic was a greater good unless you applied your religious conscience? The following of the spiritual path is logically and morally the primary concern. Only if it is in accord with conscience can a faux-religious system be preserved. Any system of piety which cannot comprehend this is at fault and should be discarded in favour of a better one.Ali Khamenei one man

Perhaps this explains why Rafsanjani, Khatami, Mousavi and others are so reluctant to press their advantage: they are one and all terrified of bringing down their precious house of cards. But is it really so fragile? Protestors in recent days have wanted reform but not necessarily a wholesale rejection of the Islamic system. To suppose otherwise is prematurely to ascribe revolutionary status to those authentic cries of injustice. An early compromise might have headed off any such fundamental rethink, but of course would also have demonstrated political skills nobody in the leadership possesses. As a consequence the Islamic leadership is saddled with the view that the whole edifice of the Islamic Republic is somehow illegitimate.


Hard versus less hard

It is a persistent problem for the West that the hard-liners are opposed by the less-hard-liners. Even Obama has suggested that

there may not be much difference between Mr Ahmadinejad and Mr Mousavi,

an unfortunate but understandable misstep.

Sometimes the choice seems to be between the hardhardhardliners and the hardhardhardhardliners. Or to sustain the psychiatric theme, these survivors from a theological Stone Age are in such a brittle, delicate state that they must be wrapped up and insulated as far as possible from reality, so that the shock doesn’t kill them or cause some security-shattering disintegration.

The roll-call of evil

Iran is desperately seeking to take its place among the Khmer Rouge, the Russia of Stalin’s purges, North Korea’s theatre of hysteria, China’s cultural revolution and Cuba’s penal extravaganza. Even President-for-Life Hugo Chavez seems keen to get on the same blacklist as his friend Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, otherwise known as Pinocchio (see the cartoonist below) for the number of lies he tells.

Ahmadinejad as Pinocchio 2

There is no point in opposing military force with street demonstrations. The enemy is not to be killed with his own bullets. It is thought that the Ahmadinejad regime has half a million security personnel and 125,000 Revolutionary Guard. This is a fascist-style militarised society. The Guard run perhaps half the economy also, a state within a state.

A flowering of art

That is why Iranians within and outside Iran are turning to poetry, song and cultural comment, especially cartoons, in what is like a flowering of art in the face of tyranny. Prominent among the cartoonists is Mana Neyestan, whose works are always acerbic and penetrating, sometimes free-floating and loaded with cultural context, mostly surreal. This is her cartoon about the triumph of soft power.Boot and foot

Today it is reported that a mighty mullah has called for the execution of all the protestors. This should produce a corpse-pile of 30 million Iranians of all social classes and ages. What a triumph for revolutionary orthodoxy this would be. A warning to those who would make war against God!

A snapshot the world has seen

No, the opposition’s weapons are not of this kind. Their triumph is the exhibition of conscience, the detection of lies, the elevation of the joke, the capture of sensibility in a poem, the glimpse of normality, the unanimity of silent protest, and above all the sacrifice of innocent life. In less than a fortnight, starved of all normal media, these brave men and women have indelibly communicated to the world a snapshot of the regime, like something taken of a naked man by flash at night, exposing the illegitimate nature of a military dictatorship.

Their work is done. They can sit back and watch the consequences roll on, as a vicious dictatorship, weakened by exposure, lashes out and adds to its political errors. History, as Obama rightly says, is on their side. They hold all the cards. Whenever it is needed, a joke, cartoon or poem will again cause the forces of evil to cower and retreat. Thirty million people in indignant unity are irresistible. They too have been seen in the snapshot, silently suffering in their prison cell, as virtuous in the oppression of their humanity as their captors are false in oppressing it.

The Iranian economy

Many countries in the Gulf fear, not only instability, but active and aggressive attacks from the wounded regime. Reported daily, and by me a couple of days ago, the exodus of wealth from Iran continues. A general strike is still the weapon held in reserve, against which the regime has no remedy, while the main bazaar in Tehran is mainly closed. Foreign investors are deserting in droves. Betting men all, they seem to think the regime is finished.

First lady of the revolution?

The crackpot Islamic mutterings of Zahra Rahnavard may be visited here:

Hejab is like a scenery, a panorama or a garden, a garden full of fruits of different colours. You can select anyone of the thousands of rooms with thousands of windows, and from its frame look at the garden, stretch your hand and pick off a fruit. You can pick off the entire garden at one and the same time like a single fruit, satisfy with its flavour your heart and soul, and make the garden, the hejab, a solace for your (disturbed) inner self.

The point is, though, it’s nobody’s business but your own what you wear.PD*29499067

The Quran prescribes some degree of segregation and veiling for the Prophet’s wives, but there is nothing in the Quran that requires the veiling of all women or their seclusion in a separate part of the house. These customs were adopted some three or four generations after the Prophet’s death. Muslims at that time were copying the Greek Christians of Byzantium, who had long veiled and segregated their women in this manner […][1]

But at least Zahra Rahnavard defends the wonderful Shirin Ebadi. She has also turned her hand to  some timely protest verse (translated by us):

Let wolves know well: in this lonely tribe,

though the father is dead, the father’s rifle is still there.

Though the men of the tribe are all killed,

the little son in the wooden cradle is still there.

If there is no water, do not be afraid, since in our caravan,

the sea like hearts and moist eyes is still there.

She even dabbles in art and sculpture, at whatever level of pastiche enticing some colour into her life.

We shall overcome

Courage, mes braves! The Iranian youth culture can count on the support of Joan Baez! Singing in Farsi, what’s more. Does this make Green Velvet a lost cause?

Mote and beam

The regime would like family members to inform on each other to block the progress of “international influence [the US] and international Zionism”. How like the paranoid days of Soviet Russia under Stalin this all is, or no doubt North Korea today. Keep the country safe to become a nuclear target by torturing the enemies within. The trouble is, everyone is an enemy.

Statements made by the regime are interpretable only as statements about itself. We discern our faults in others. This is the secret of paranoia, the key to the ever-thickening mysteries.

Britain and the UK are meddling in our internal affairs. We seek to subvert all our neighbours, Iraq, Gulf States, Israel, Lebanon etc. Hezbollah is another name for the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
The British Government is responsible for the output of the BBC. In Iran the State controls all the media.
Attempts to undermine our regime are illegitimate. We are an illegitimate regime.
Families must spy on their members to strengthen the state. Families succour and support their members against the state.
In this society we all love each other. We shall oppress everybody, everywhere, forever.

and so on.

[1] Armstrong, K. Islam, a short history. New York: Modern Library, 2002, p. 16.

More on the death of Neda

A US Congressman eloquently stakes a claim for the meaning of Neda’s death here. He can’t resist a tilt at Carter and a plug for Reagan, though. Is he a Republican by any chance?

Silence in Iraq

Is it a coincidence that the bodies of two British hostages are ‘released’ (they think they are doing us a favour) in Iraq by the Shi’ite militias just in the middle of the upheaval in Iran? There is an eloquent silence on the part of leaders of the Shi’ite communities in Iraq on the subject of the unfairness of the election.

Little Terorist!

Election results show internal evidence of fraud

It seems that people making up ‘random’ numbers are more likely to include 7 and exclude 5. This is exactly what we find in the values officially reported for the Iranian election. There is only a 4% chance that the results could have occurred by chance, that is through the random operations of an actual election. For more detail see here and here.

A logically independent critique of the validity of official results comes from the report published on 21st June by the Chatham House/University of St Andrews Institute for Iranian Studies (as already much reported). This may be downloaded at the Chatham House research website. This:

±      dispels the myth that rural areas contributed a massive pro-Rat vote

±      reveals that voter turnout in excess of 100% was registered in provinces the remoteness of whose borders from population centres negates the official explanation of cross-border voting

±     shows that  in a third of all provinces the Rat’s vote would have required him to sweep up all centrist voters, all new voters, and half of all previously reformist voters

±      shows that provinces with greatest increase in voter turnout showed no swing to Ahmadinejad.

The validity of the election is affirmed by the Guardian Council (who are supposed to oversee the election and thus to oversee themselves), which is in turn overseen by the Supreme Leader, who has announced the validity of the exercise prior to any investigation and cannot be gainsaid! No pinnacle of authority is immune, however, to criticism on the grounds of implausibility, logical inconsistency and self-contradiction.

Secret voices

It’s as if the fabric of the Islamic Revolution itself has been torn

says the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, John Simpson, both in an article following his return from Iran and in a Radio 4 programme which can be listened to again for a week by clicking on the iPlayer link here. His analysis is the same as Amir Taheri’s (reported yesterday), but he is inclined to think there has not yet been a putsch in which the military dictatorship crushes the Qom clerics.

Death to everyone!

How hard it is to get at the simplest facts straight. An ICM telephone poll of 500 British Muslims aged sixteen or over was conducted for the BBC between 5-10 June 2009 and reported exclusively via BBC television, BBC radio (summary only) and the BBC website. The contradictions are startling. Either 15% (television report) or 11% (website) thought it was legitimate for guerrilla fighters to target British or Nato forces in Afghanistan. 72% thought that the Pakistani army should (Mark Easton’s voiceover) or should not (text on screen) take military action against the Taliban.

What are we supposed to think? At any rate, 72% were opposed to a British military presence in Afghanistan. As we saw in the case of the Orthodox church supporting the Serb butchers in the Bosnian conflict, ordinary morality is suspended for one’s co-religionists. Membership is all.

A new opposition leader?

There are suggestions that a little known political activist outside Iran, who therefore need not fear arrest, could command sufficient popular support to organise the opposition protests. Mohsen Sazegara has a website from where he calls for a boycott of Iranian oil, surely an idea entirely without legs . . . but nary a turban in sight. A historian, journalist, publisher and former would-be president of his country, it took him ten years as a senior official to grow tired of the engelab. But, after several arrests, sixteen weeks in Eveen Prison and two hunger strikes, he now offers his CV from exile in the US.

John Simpson and others perhaps underestimate the extent to which the opposition seeks to avoid entirely any perpetuation of clerical rule, desiring only to separate religion and the state. But expatriates perhaps overestimate their appeal in the mother country amongst those who stayed at home and bore the heat. Consider the example of the Russian revolution.

Nine-hour anaesthetic trilogy

Meanwhile, back in our pampered burrows, Iran’s state-controlled TV is playing hours and hours of Lord of the Rings in an attempt to keep people indoors, instead of stalking the streets, confronting the Evil Empire and the Lords of Darkness.

In-fighting and out-thinking

As is constantly reported, the sound of muffled in-fighting continues to emanate from the dark-garbed masses huddled upon their roosts in Qom and elsewhere. Thuds, squawks, expostulations, the gnashing of beaks. Many details can be found here.

The Economist has an excellent piece today, 27th June 09, ‘Why the turbans are at odds’ (p. 71), addressing the theology of velayat-e faqih (or guardianship of the jurists). This dubious innovation, in the revolutionary constitution of Ayatollah Khomeini, enshrines a Supreme Leader but was rather undermined at the outset by Khomeini himself, who swerved away from Montazeri at the last moment. The issue became undiscussible but has now been blown wide open by the spectacle of a Supreme Leader as a rambling old chap who ought to be in a rocking chair somewhere.

It may seem too charitable, but it is hard to resist the conclusion that these eastern clerics, like the peoples they govern, know rather little about politics and government. Not surprisingly, as they have had a long history but little experience.Country mouse!

In the West, whatever that may be, we accept as given many cardinal features of a free society that were hard fought-over in the past:

  1. no taxation without representation
  2. one person one vote
  3. voting by secret ballot
  4. freedom of speech, assembly and press
  5. separation of church and state
  6. separation of powers (civil service, parliament, judges)
  7. equality before the law (justice is blind)

and so on. These are not divine virtues but commonsense safeguards, because although nobody knows how nations should be governed, we all know how nations should not be governed. Democracy substitutes accidental government for arbitrary government.

These brown-robed duffers seem to know nothing that might help them. For instance, they seem genuinely to believe that a general election is simply an opportunity to shore up the current government. They cannot conceive of independent-minded criticism, of one party (way of thinking) replacing another painlessly, of there being some obscure connection between a policy and a mandate.

On the other hand, they believe that merit can descend from the Prophet down 41 generations (the sayeedi or descendants of Mohammad have a headstart in the leadership stakes), although geneticists point out that all similarities cease after about four generations. They believe in kinship, succession by inheritance, nepotism, patronage and ‘connections’. These are all dysfunctional beliefs, though most of the middle east is ruled by families, frowning out from their Islamic grottoes on the outside world.

In our society there are legal safeguards, not always effective, to ensure impartiality and competition on merit. We have learned long ago the lessons that are only now being visited upon the unfortunate peoples of Iran. To learn all this from experience is especially bitter. Why not learn from the experience of others?

I think again of the words of the great Persian poet, Forugh Farrokhzad (1935-1967):

I love our Tehran, come what may. I love it and it is only there that my life finds its raison d’être. I love that scorching sun, those oppressive sunsets, those dusty streets, and those unfortunate, ill-starred, low-born, depraved people.

Large movements of money, cont’d

The Italian paper La Stampa has reported that in the last 48 hours several Iranian banks have taken money out of Iran and deposited it in banks in Pakistan, UAE, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia etc. The money exits Iran in drafts under $10m and is said to be from non-governmental foundations under the control of the Mullahs.

Disgrace to Islam?

The Times reports the opinion of a shopkeeper here:

Mohamad, who owns a Tehran hardware store, told The Times: “I voted for Ahmadinejad because I believed he was closer to my morality and piety. But this is not what we voted for. Life is the most divine thing in Islam. You don’t take it away like that.”

Are peaceful demonstrations legal in Iran?Goons bashing in car windows 2

“According to the constitution of the Islamic Republic, peaceful rallying and demonstrations are allowed and do not need permission from any authorities,” according to the renowned human rights campaigner and Nobel peace prizewinner Shirin Ebadi, here. Ms Ebadi has offered her legal support to the family of Neda, who was shot in the neck while not even demonstrating. Why should they need it?

Obtaining Neda’s body from the authorities was difficult ─ they had to agree to yield up a thigh-bone from the dead 27-year old girl (a mutilated corpse is a disgrace in Islam because of the belief in a physical resurrection) ─ and a planned memorial service had to be cancelled because the authorities feared it would have led to more protests. They have since also forbidden the black-draping of houses traditional in Islamic countries and, because of frequent visitors, removed the family to another address.

Goons bashing in car windows 1

The authorities claim that the demonstrators are violent ’terrorists.’ Of course, non-violence and dignity are central to the rationale of the protests, since it is arbitrary violence and dictatorial fiats they are trying to counter (Russia, China and Venezuela currently support the mullahs’ regime). Here are two photographs that show the Basiji smashing up cars, the broken glass still spraying in the air, thanks to fast shutter speed.

High profile hostage

Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American journalist, was recently freed after what looked, from the outside, like a soft-shoe diplomatic shuffle. She talks to Jeremy Paxman here. If you accept that she was not a spy, then her detention looks like a variation on the standard hostage-taking scenario that is second nature to this bandit-ridden regime.

What is the difference between these people and the Taliban? The capacity for major political miscalculations is exactly the same. Following the public flogging of a 13 year old girl and the throat-slitting of a revered Sufi holy man and assorted village elders, the entire population of Pakistan has now swivelled round to full support of military action against the Taliban. So much for the crescent-shaped caliphate stretching across Pakistan, Waziristan, Kashmir.

A new United Nations

The great divide nowadays is between regimes that have democratic legitimacy and those that don’t. Given the thin but remarkable line-up of the usual suspects behind President-for-life Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (known as The Rat), I am minded once again to call for the dissolution of the present United Nations organisation, in which President-for-life Gadaffi can chair the human rights committee.

No doubt the tyrants won’t vote for their own dissolution, so why wait? What is to stop the Unites States showing some leadership and inviting the bona fide democratic regimes of the ‘free world’ to form a New UN ─ membership by invitation? The new organisation would have the moral authority so steadily shed, through corruption and tolerance of despotism, by the present one.

World war?

There is now something of a world war against Islamism (not the peaceful, Sufi kind of Islam, but the fascist ideology). News schedules fill up with ever-increasing Islamist content. Unsmiling warriors from a darker age frown down the barrels of their RPGs. Even Hitler would have consider their kind of conflict an anachronism.

Poems from the streets

Like a great painful vapour, the cries of the affronted, wounded and dying arise from the streets of Iranian cities. Some of it condenses into poetry and this spreads at the speed of light across the internet. So far, little has been translated.

Here are two such poems, translated by ourselves, ‘Plain clothes’ by Iraj Janatie Ataie[1] and ‘Scarecrow’ by Mohammed Ali Bahmani.[2] These speak for themselves.

[1] See also: http://www.janatie-ataie.com/home.htm

[2] See also: http://www.qoqnoos.com/body/poem/new-poem/m-ali%20bahmani/poem.htm

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Plain clothes

by Iraj Janatie Ataie

Iraj Janatee Ataee

Look at yourself

darkening the mirror

throwing a curtain over the song

blocking the window.

I breathe the stars,

caress the moon

fondle the breeze

draw my gaze over the night.

You with a bullet and I with a flower,

you with a volley and I with a song,

you with yellow hatred and blue-black rancour,

I with roseate love and green soaring flight.

Your profession is the murder of roses and dew,

execution of breeze, sea and light;

my profession the seeding of lamplight and tambourine,

nourishment of colour, dance and dream.

The rendezvous for humanity’s renewal

is in Freedom Square.

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by Mohammed Ali Bahmani

from his collection: Sometimes I miss myself

Hey scarecrow, take off your hat!

We crows have now become eagles.

From all that restless grinding

we have become the lower stone of the mill.

Listen, like mountains we have reflected

your roaring anger.

Now it’s you who cover your face,

and it’s we who unveil.

Although we dissolve drop by drop into water

we were cloud and now have become sun.

He who made us knew that with one sip of his Being

we would be reborn.

O life, we whose silence has become

the answer to your every question ─

what else do you want from us,

now that we no longer have any account

with death?

The putsch

For a while, I was amused that the protestors referred to the plain-clothes goons as Hezbollah. They were not joking. Amusement rapidly vanished when it turned out that Lebanese speaking only Arabic were being deployed by Ahmadinejad on the streets to intimidate the crowds. Similarly, it seemed merely a conceptual flourish when Iranians referred to the election as a coup d’état. If Amir Taheri is right, and he usually is, a military putsch is exactly what is going on, with a purge of liberal clerics in prospect:

Many in Tehran, including leading clerics, see the exercise as a putsch by the military-security organs that back Mr. Ahmadinejad … Some analysts in Tehran tell me that the military-security elite, now controlling the machinery of the Iranian state, persuaded Mr. Khamenei to make the unprecedented move [his long statement hailing Mr. Ahmadinejad’s “historic victory” as “a great celebration”] … Buoyed by his victory, Mr. Ahmadinejad has already served notice that he intends to pursue his radical policies with even greater vigor. At yesterday’s rally, he promised to pass a law enabling him to bring “the godfathers of corruption” to justice. His entourage insists that former Presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammed Khatami, and former parliament Speaker Nateq Nouri, all midranking mullahs, may be among the first to fall in a massive purge of the ruling elite … Messrs. Rafsanjani, Khatami and other targeted mullahs could influence others who wish to prevent a complete seizure of power by Mr. Ahmadinejad’s military-security clique, which is determined to replace the Shiite clergy as the nation’s ruling elite … [Will] Supreme Leader Khamenei … stand by and watch his power eroded by a rising elite of radicals?

Things in other words, can get a great deal worse. Taheri writes, “It is too early to guess whether these dignitaries would march to the metaphorical gallows.” On past form it may be expected that the gallows will not be metaphorical.

At least this election is, as he says, “clarifying.” Iran is now a military dictatorship. The forces of anti-Israeli evil throughout the middle east are concentrating under the banner of Islam. Why are the Russians so short-sighted as to go along with this?

Regime change will have to wait until the Mullahs are pre-emptively bombed. Given that the Iranian regime can be relied upon to do everything humanly possible to bring about their own destruction, we will not have to wait long.

The freedom of the night skies

Janitors at housing blocks where protestors are crying, Alahu Akbar, on the rooftops at night are being asked to call all the residents together, “otherwise we will burn the house down.” They are commanded, naturally, to stop on pain of arrest of their families.

Little Donkey, Great Donkey

Supreme Spiritual Leader Ali Khamanei, the Great Donkey, has a son. He is called Mojtaba Khamenei and is in his forties. He is never photographed, never reported. Funds recently frozen in the UK included $1.2 bn in Little Donkey’s personal accounts. This affront preceded the regime’s recent, unexpected onslaught on Britain. He managed the Rat’s re-election campaign, which gives new meaning to the Ayatollah’s Friday remarks, “I personally am closer to Mr Ahmadinejad.” The Little Donkey plans to inherit his father’s throne, in true oriental fashion.

Soviet-style repression

How reminiscent this all this, for those with memories, of the state apparatus of terror and repression in the Soviet Empire in the 1960s and 70s, before the Evil Empire collapsed under the weight of its own internal contradictions. But in those days Western sentimentalists were supportive of the socialist workers’ paradise. Today, the world is largely united behind the human rights movement in Iran (see the YouTube video here).

Down with the Brits

The campaign against foreign interference is, as everyone from Obama downwards has noted, a ploy to keep the mullahs from any awareness of the extent of their own prodigious self-destruction. As noted here yesterday, this delusional system has psychiatric overtones. HereDown with British spy is a goon copying a slogan in English, a language unfamiliar to him but necessary if he wants to communicate to the world, from his left hand!

No doubt rent-a-mob will soon want to occupy the embassy ─ just for old time’s sake!

BBC pundits have decided that the street demonstrations are in retreat and that the uprising has been quelled by the ubiquitous security personnel. This is how the Rat sees things. But the state goons were always likely to win a confrontation of force and the demonstrators wisely have not sought one. Since the official religion is collective Shi’ite hysteria, the regime does not believe the opposition can have souls. So in Soviet style (see above), they try to repress outward behaviour, while steadily losing the battle for hearts and minds.

Contrary to what has been said, it is easy to see where this will end. The regime will destroy itself and create no more than a temporary shudder in future school pupils reading their history textbooks.

Goons on parade

Fascinating footage here of the Basiji (“goons”) using a sports centre for their activities. First they arrive in vans to get changed, then get on the job, riding on pavements, tear gassing, cracking heads, and back to the sports centre again, to get changed and return home to cuddle their wives and children.

Experts agree

I am glad to see that my analysis yesterday meets with common accord in this round-up of expert opinion today. For instance, Prof Baroness Haleh Afshar, Professor of Politics and Women’s Studies at the University of York, writes:

By resorting to brutal force the regime has lost what legitimacy it had. Thus without the re-run of the elections it can only continue by extreme oppression, which I do not think would be acceptable to Iranians. What this means in terms of outcome, I hate to think.

And Dr Karim Sadjadpour, associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, adds:

[T]he regime’s indiscriminate use of violence – graphic videos show how women, the elderly, and even children have been targeted – has only further eroded people’s lack of respect for the government … There are already signs that the opposition is entering a new phase. Instead of mass rallies they are now focusing on civil disobedience, including strikes among merchants (bazaris), labourers, and key arteries of the Iranian economy (like the petroleum industry and oil ministry).

The same sort of ground is covered, and analysis offered, here. Or are all these events being permitted simply to discredit Islam itself?

No more idiots

Let us hope that future candidates for leadership ─ presidents, prime ministers … but not Supreme Leaders, please: why let a general craving for authority elevate someone whom you cannot get rid of thereafter? … will submit to an IQ test. Sawdust qualifications in make-believe theology should no longer be acceptable.

Donkey maths

“[T]here is no reason to annul the election,” said Abbasali Kadkhodai, a Guardian Council spokesman, in remarks reported on Iran state television this morning ─ in spite of the fact that in 50 Iranian cities more than 100 per cent of the electorate was officially recorded as turning out to vote. More here.

The participation of women.

If and when this spontaneous combustion leads to a peaceful liberalisation, the bravery of the young will be remembered and, for a long time afterwards, celebrated. And foremost among them, the ‘lionesses’, our better halves, the much oppressed but infinitely esteemed women of Iran. Note in this clip the compassionate rescue of a militia man, pulled off his own bike and clearly expecting imminent annihilation, being given water to drink before being led to safety. The sacrifice of Neda, who was shot in the neck after apparently stepping out of a traffic-bound car for some fresh air, returning from a music lesson, is already a legend. Others, more self-sacrificial, are out there in the front line without any prospect of victory in these darkest hours, like the young lady interviewed who gives stones to the boys “because they can throw them further than we can.”

It was the artist-poet Sohrab Sepehri who commented that Iran has the finest mothers in the world – and the worst  intellectuals.

Chip off the royal block

Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of the Shah, now a tearful supporter of human rights and civil disobedience, speaks at an official podium. Is he waiting for a call? A constitutional monarchy, with the restored monarch a powerless figurehead, might bind in to a new settlement many more than would otherwise be reconciled to a mere IRI Mark II.

The fraud – a summary

It is carefully argued here that the details of the election aberrations are still of concern, if only as a matter of responsible record. One striking result of this election-rigging is to set people wondering, if they did not before, about the previous dubious election of June 2005, when Ahmadinejad first won the presidency against four reformist candidates. This ‘win’ ushered in ‘the government of the barracks’.

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