We are only one day away from the 31st anniversary of the Fall of the Pahlavi Regime, a day of showdown between the Green Opposition and the IRGC Junta; And quite likely, the most fateful day in the history of the Islamic Republic that will set the tone for the future of the Iranians’ struggle to achieve basic civil rights under a rational, if not secular, representative government.
Looking at the facts though (unfortunately from abroad), I fear there is a good chance that it will all turn into a terrible bloodbath…
For starters, the rhetoric from the hardened regime, points to zero tolerance for any expression of dissent, peaceful or not. So far, the regime has failed in quieting the massive opposition by its “lite” application of bloodshed and terror. That tells me they will up the ante this time.
Since its inception, the Clerical regime has thrived by successfully shedding successive layers of “useful idiots” through brute force. There is very little chance now that the most hardened brutes will consider other tactics for their survival.
To make matters worse, the current hardline leaders and their operatives have painted themselves into a corner and it is hard to fathom how they could extricate themselves and save face, even if they decided to do so. Not much foresight here on the part of the reactionary Khamenei who left himself no room to back down and maneuver.
To make matters worse yet, the hardline IRI leaders cannot be expected to compromise or surrender since they know that when their past and present conduct is properly investigated they will be charged with crimes against humanity and prosecuted with vengeance. Not much foresight here either from the psychopathic Khomeini for taking out his utter frustration in taking over Basra for his “Omma” on defenseless Iranian political prisoners in 1988…
To make matters even worse, the IRGC mafia has nowhere to run. Unlike the Royals and their cronies who relatively painlessly slipped into the western countries they had fancied and frequented, the present ruling thugs are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. The closest thing to a safe haven for them is probably the Hezbollah‘s tiny Shiite stronghold in Southern Lebanon (where they can be certain to invite the neighboring Israelis to stage an exemplary show of force in punishing rogue holocaust-deniers with nuclear ambitions). Otherwise they can probably seek refuge in treacherous Syria, or in certain other lawless backwaters like parts of Yemen, Somalia or Sudan which at best offer only wretched living and perpetual terror. Otherwise there isn’t a rogue enough country in the globalized world that would offer to host them without the temptation to sell them out for small favors shortly after.
Meanwhile there is no evidence that the massive Green Opposition movement, which has been warned repeatedly of the oncoming terror but has the momentum, is going to come out more subdued and cautious than before.
Hence, it is logical to assume that the regime, which by the way has all the firepower and the monopoly on violence at the moment, will have no choice but fight with vengeance to the last. They may be doomed, but they will last longer, perhaps indefinitely longer, if they go for a hard fight. And if they have to fight, they might think to start with the most ruthless and terrorizing show of force; A pre-emptive strike for maximum effect.
Another reason for them ordering a massive crackdown now is to expose and purge disloyal elements of the security forces that could later pose a mortal threat to the regime.
So far the Green movements has managed to embarrass and destabilize the regime, robbing it of its air of legitimacy. Beyond that, I don’t know how well thought out this strategy for a non-violent opposition is. Just like the nation building experience in Iraq today hasn’t gone as smoothly as that of Japan after WWII, the “Velvet Revolution” in Iran may not go as smoothly as the movements in Ukraine or Georgia.
The IRI is so prone to holy terror that it has specially created the Basij, a large standing army of hooligans to do for them what the “brown shirts” did for the Nazis. From the beginning, the Khomeini regime has leaned towards shocking the world by disregarding international norms and diplomacy even when they knew they could not get away with it. Therefore I guess the Martin Luther King trick and the “Non-Violent Struggle for Change” will not work in the Islamic Republic who in principle
is no more respectful of basic human rights than the Taliban and Al Qaeda. It is easy to imagine that Gandhi could not have pulled off a victory if his adversaries where the Khmer Rouge instead of the OxBridge educated military strategists of the British Empire.
Assuming the worst happens tomorrow, I suspect in the aftermath the more diligent elements of what is now called “Green Movement” will regroup and rediscover armed resistance, and with a wide base of support will start to chip away at the illegitimate and despised regime with ambushes and street fights until elevating the whole affair to a situation like Beirut circa 1980. In this tragic case I would expect them to achieve victory, albeit at immense cost and collateral damage, because they will have vast worldwide support from every mighty power, including those that are straddling the fence right now.
If tomorrow’s confrontation ends up no more heated than that of the Ashura, that would just postpone the day of the reckoning to the next event while giving the opposition’s more confidence and more time to organize, something that the wretched regime is aware of and might want to avoid.
In the end it is hard to tell what is going to happen, but doing the forensic exercise of putting oneself in the Regime’s shoes and asking the right questions one can expect to foresee at least one likely course of events.
The short term prospects are not cheerful… But I hope I am wrong…