Tied to the mast
…but orange now and black

Iran: Tomorrow’s crackdown

Khameinis hands

Khameini's hands

Khameini didn’t give an inch in his speech today, reaffirming the election results, and condemning the protesters as puppets of the ‘Zionist media.’ The regime also refused a permit for the large scale protest planned for tomorrow (not today as Mousavi /didn’t/ want to politicize Friday–the Muslim day of prayer). Khameini also asserted that any violence that should occur would be the fault of Mousavi and Karoubi, effectively untying the already rather loosely tied hands of the baseej militias.

All of the major sources I’ve read this morning report first hand accounts of a great deal of fear among Iranians, but a fear undergirded with resolve. There’s going to be conflict tomorrow, and it will be bloody.

I have no doubt that many reformers will turn out, but I’m concerned that enough will have been intimidated away to make the crowd easy work for the Baseej. From there, it’s only a few short steps to Saddam Hussein-style totalitarian dictatorship. That seems to be what Khameini is betting on.

While I’m concerned, I don’t think that it’s a safe bet. That Iran doesn’t have the state capacity to pull a full Tiananmen seems evident from the fact that they’re relying on militias and imported Hezbollah fighters. Further, images of the crackdown will be many and Iran simply doesn’t have adequate control over the lines of communication in an out of the country for them not to end up having wide viewership. That means the more brutal the footage, the more powerful the motivating symbolic power for those still standing on Sunday. In that sense Khaimeini’s in a catch-22. He should just leave the country. They’d probably take him in Syria.

Again, there’s still the army question… depending on where its loyalties fall, the crackdown could either be made to work or be completely sabotaged.

~

Horrifying report from the NYT:

The vigilantes plan to take their fight into the daylight on Friday, with the public relations department of Ansar Hezbollah, the most public face of the Basij, announcing that they planned a public demonstration to expose the “seditious conspiracy” being carried out by “agitating hooligans.”

“We invite the vigilant people who are always in the arena to make their loud objections heard in response to the babbling of this tribe,” said the announcement, carried on the Web site Parsine.

That echoes evil in my ears.

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