As the experience in many countries, including the 1979 Revolution in Iran, has demonstrated, the security/intelligence apparatus can hardly win a war of attrition. There are several reasons why this is so.
First, ever since the 2009 election, even the most minor issue has been viewed by the hardliners as a security problem. This has meant that the Guard high command has had to keep its personnel on high alert all the time, which is tiring and demoralizing.
Second, as the war of attrition continues, more violence is bound to happen that, on the one hand, radicalizes a certain portion of the protestors and, on the other hand, begins to create doubts in the minds of some of the security/intelligence personnel about the legitimacy of what they are doing to the people.
Third, as the February 14 marches indicated, in addition to Tehran, the demonstrations may now occur in other cities around the country. This means that each city needs its own security forces to be on alert, and the plainclothes security agents cannot be easily and quickly transferred from one city to another, and in particular to Tehran. Therefore, the question may no longer be how to control Tehran, rather how to control multiple cities.
One of the most interesting aspects of what is happening in Iran and the response of the security/intelligence apparatus is the fact that the regular army has been almost completely silent. In contrast to many of the hardline officers in the IRGC … >>>