While the world focuses on Libya’s popular uprising and Moammar Gadhafi’s murderous response, Iran has also—far from the international spotlight—been ratcheting up its repression. In the last few days, Tehran has moved to arrest the two leading figures of Iran’s opposition, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and has reportedly transferred them from house arrest to a political prison run by the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Mass protests have erupted again, in open defiance of the regime, and are spreading far beyond Tehran.
But Iran’s rulers already showed in 2009 that they take no chances and no prisoners when it comes to shielding themselves from their people’s wrath. Another bloodbath now is not hard to imagine.
Western democracies have been quick to condemn Gadhafi, and have passed a number of measures against him and his regime since Tripoli’s crackdown began. By contrast, Iran’s violent political repression is only part of the latest, gory wave that has been ongoing for more than a year and a half, and yet there appears no urgency in the West to adopt human-rights sanctions against Tehran.