Commenter German_reader summarizes an anonymous Iranian journalist about the protests there.
The protests were started by “radicals” (of an Islamic kind) with ties to the supreme ayatollah and the military; originally they were only directed against president Rouhani. However the “radicals” quickly lost control of the protests (which according to the journalist weren’t monitored at first by the police) which spread to other sectors of dissatisfied Iranians and took on a generalized anti-regime character.
Hilarious if true.
And it just might be: Comment from an Iranian on Patrick Lang’s blog:
Evidently, the protests were initiated by political enemies of Rouhani in Mashhad. That city is referred to in Iran as a “hizbollahi city” – “Party of God City”. That is, in Iranian idiom, a city of conservative thuggish doctrinaire Muslims.
One Mr. Alm-al-Hoda, son-in-law of Raisi, the presidential contender, and the Friday Prayer Leader appointed by Ayatollah Khamenei, had organized it. During the first 15 minutes, hizbollahis got what they wanted; “Death to Rouhani” slogan was shouted. Then the protesters moved on to other slogans, “Death to Dictatorship!”, etc. – which was not part of the script.
Then the protests spread to other cities due to deep anger and frustrations with this governing system’s failure on economic front as well as civil liberties enshrined in the Iranian Constitution but abridged by successive Iranian governments.
I think this could be a bigger challenge than 2009 protests, which only encompassed Tehran but not other Iranian cities.
Here’s a map of the progression of the Iran protests day by day:
Congrats on the 666D chess move, LOL.
I have been reading the Russia war blogger El Murid on Iran in the past couple of days.
Don’t know if he has any special expertise, but according to him, this has more of the markers of 1979 than 2009. The protesters are lower class, not liberal urban hipsters like in 2009, which makes using the Basij (which he describes as being “militarized titushki“) against them much more difficult because of their common low class origins.
As I suspected, the protesters aren’t all that hot for Russia; apart from Death to Rouhani and Death to the Dictatorship, they also want Death to Russia.
Anyhow, according to the latest post from him, they have settled on hardcore suppression, with at least hundreds of arrests just in Tehran and dozens more deaths.
There seems to be a general consensus – apart from El Murid himself, but he’s always been a pessimist – that the regime will survive. The main exception are the posters at /r/iran, but my impression is that they are strongly urban liberal and diaspora with overly romantic (unrealistic) views of Iranian political realities. For instance, the stickied post there speculates that the mullahs have already fled the country.
That said, this will surely bring political changes. For instance, Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky suggests a limited liberalization: “That may mean concessions and a partial liberalization are likely. Just as the protests were starting, Tehran police announced that they would no longer arrest women for breaking the country’s strict Islamic dress code. Economic measures to pacify protesters unhappy about rising prices, corruption and inequality may well follow.”
Of course, those economic measures aren’t going to pay themselves, and the difference will have to be made up somewhere.