Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blood Will Be Spilled

Iran's protests are spreading beyond the base of college students and the more well off. And the Iranians are banning memorials for Montazeri, which many people who otherwise don't back the protests will see as rather anti-Islamic, I imagine, because they are turning into anti-government protests.

At some point, if the protests continue to grow rather than dissipate, the Iranian regime will unleash it's loyal security forces with orders to shoot to kill. We shall see if enough security forces obey those orders and whether other security forces decide to stand up for unarmed civilians being slaughtered by their own government.

AP reports on the memorial ban:

Iran banned memorials for the country's most senior dissident cleric and reiterated a stern warning to the opposition Thursday, after days of services in honor of the spiritual leader turned into street protests against the government.

A commemoration had been planned for Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri in the town of Kashan, 135 miles south of Tehran, according to reformist Web sites.

But a large banner was put up in the town proclaiming that the Supreme National Security Council has banned any memorials for Montazeri except in the holy city of Qom and the cleric's hometown of Najafabad. The Web site Parlemannews carried a photo of the banner in Kashan.

The regime is worried about the spread of the protests:

Large-scale protests spread in central Iranian cities Wednesday, offering the starkest evidence yet that the opposition movement that emerged from the disputed June presidential election has expanded beyond its base of mostly young, educated Tehran residents to at least some segments of the country's pious heartland.

Demonstrations took place in Esfahan, a provincial capital and Iran's cultural center, and nearby Najafabad, the birthplace and hometown of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, whose death Saturday triggered the latest round of confrontations between the opposition movement and the government.

The central region is considered by some as the conservative power base of the hard-liners in power.

Iranian authorities are clearly alarmed by the spread of the protests. Mojtaba Zolnour, a mid-ranking cleric serving as supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative to the elite and powerful Revolutionary Guard, acknowledged widespread unrest around the country.

Strategypage addresses the situation, as well:

After three decades, the revolution is returning. Back the government of the Shah was corrupt and unpopular, and the small businessmen and clerics supported widespread discontent, which evolved into massive demonstrations that the security forces were not willing to put down with force. It's different this time, in that hundreds of thousands of hard core government supporters are in the Revolutionary Guard. Unlike the shah's forces, the Revolutionary Guard contains a lot of Islamic true believers, who will shoot to kill. They have already done this. Will they do it on a large enough scale to intimidate most Iranians? The government, a religious dictatorship, is betting on that.

I've read in the past that the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) aren't as loyal as the regime would like. And the regular armed forces aren't trusted to shoot at the people. And civilian police might not, either. The regime can count on its secret police and Basij thugs and hopes enough Pasdaran will kill civilians, too.

It seems like a race against time to see if a revolution will overthrow the mullahs, Iran under the mullahs gets nuclear weapons, or Israel strikes Iran. Or the regime could kill enough to suppress the protesters without provoking a civil war within Iran's security apparatus.

I don't even think we're in this equation. We'll only strike in response to a crisis breaking out and Iran lashing out with whatever weapons they have against whatever targets they can reach