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The Race for Iran

MISREADING IRANIAN POLITICS IN WASHINGTON

Yesterday was the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic’s founding—an annual celebration that comes as the culmination of a preceding 10-day commemoration of the “days of dawn” between Ayatollah Khomeini’s return to Iran from exile on February 1, 1979 (the Shah had departed the country on January 16) and the proclamation of the Islamic Republic on February 11.  Many Western-based Iran watchers and Western journalists covering Iran anticipated that this would be the occasion for mass protests that would rock the Iranian government to its foundations—marking, as one journalist put it just a few says ago, the “beginning of the end” of the Islamic Republic.  The most prominent establishment figures associated with the Green Movement—Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami—all called for their supporters to come out on February 11 to show the strength of their cause.     

The anniversary observances have now concluded in Tehran and elsewhere in Iran, and the strength manifested by the Green Movement was hardly noticeable.  There is nothing new about this.  Ever since the Green Movement emerged in the run up to the Islamic Republic’s June 12, 2009 presidential election, Western observers have been describing the rise of a broad-based social movement that would bring about fundamental change—perhaps even “regime change”—in Iran.  These observers told us, among other things, that the 3-, 7-, and 40-day mourning observances for those protestors who were killed in clashes with security forces would prompt ever larger protests—as was the pattern during the revolution that ultimately overthrew the Shah.  But that has not occurred.  The protests on the Shi’a holy day of Ashura (December 27) were much smaller than some previous demonstrations by the Green Movement.  Furthermore, no demonstrations of any significance were seen in Iran on the anniversary of the Shah’s departure from Iran on January 16 or for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s arbaeen (40-day mourning observance) on January 29.  

Since the Iranian election, we have never saw evidence that the Green Movement commanded the support of a majority of Iranians.  This judgment was in keeping with our assessment that President Ahmadinejad certainly could have commanded the support of the majority of the Iranian electorate in his re-election bid and that no hard and credible evidence of election fraud that would have fundamentally changed the outcome had been presented.   But, the rush to judgment by the vast majority of Western observers, that the election result could only have been the product of fraud which “stole” victory from Mousavi, skewed much subsequent analysis of the relative strengths of the government and the Green Movement.  This distorted perception afflicted not only neoconservatives and other Green Movement partisans, but also some of our realist friends, like Richard Haass and Steven Walt

But, from whatever base of support that the movement may have enjoyed in the immediate aftermath of the June 12 election, its support base has been contracting over time, not growing.  This is displayed most obviously in the movement’s shrinking ability to bring its partisans onto the streets, even when its most prominent leaders have called on them to turn out.  As Borzou Daragahi, the Los Angeles Times correspondent who has been strongly supportive of the Green Movement in his reporting, said on France 24 yesterday, in the aftermath of today’s events, the leaders of the Green Movement will need to reevaluate their strategy and tactics.    

Of course, many Western observers now say that the Green Movement is not fading, but has been cruelly suppressed by an illegitimate regime fighting with every tool at its disposal to hang on to power.  This claim needs to be evaluated both in historical perspective and in the context of the current Iranian state’s capabilities.  Historically, in the 12 months preceding the departure of the Shah from Iran and the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Iranian security forces gunned down thousands—perhaps even tens of thousands—of anti-Shah protestors.  But, even in the face of this brutality, protestors kept coming out, and the crowds demanding the Shah’s removal kept growing until they overwhelmed the Pahlavi regime’s massive security apparatus.  That was a real revolution. 

Contrast that with the response of the Islamic Republic to social unrest following the June 12, 2009 presidential election.  Since last June, just over 100 people have been killed in clashes with security forces.  Of course, every life lost is a tragedy.  But this is not Tiananmen Square, with security forces mowing down hundreds of demonstrators in a single encounter.  If one considers what the Iranian government is capable of doing, its response has, in fact, been relatively restrained.  But, even in the face of this relatively restrained response, the Green Movement has been contracting.  That is not the stuff of which revolutions are made.    

Moreover, the Iranian government has dealt with the post-election protests and follow-on events in a manner that is seen by many inside Iran as legitimate within the context of the Islamic Republic’s political order.  The Guardian Council opened itself to receive formal complaints about the conduct of the election and ordered a partial recount of ballots—in keeping with the roles prescribed to it by the Islamic Republic’s constitution.  At critical points following the election, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made authoritative pronouncements—in keeping with his constitutional role.  When some who had been arrested following public protests were killed, raped, or otherwise abused in custody, the prison where the lion’s share of abuses reportedly occurred was closed, and twelve security force personnel are now under indictment for their involvement in prisoner deaths and abuse.  Many in the West may find these responses insufficient—but they were perceived by many in Iran as important and legitimate responses, which has worked to minimize the number of Iranians who might be galvanized to action outside the established political order.          

In sum, the Islamic Republic is not going away.  It is remarkable how many Green Movement supporters outside Iran are now claiming that no one among them ever talked about “regime change” or the Islamic Republic’s “implosion”.  But many pro-opposition pundits have, in fact, spoken frequently in recent months about the imminent possibility of the Islamic Republic’s disappearance.  These assessments were, clearly, wrong.  The erroneous analyses of those who have worked so hard in Washington to promote this view should not go unremarked now.

In this regard, we must take very strong exception to Steve Walt’s statement yesterday about Iran that

“nobody — including the leaders of the Iranian government, the opposition, and all of us watching from outside — knows where they are headed or what the timetable for change might be. We’ll know who guessed (yes, guessed) right some weeks, months, years, or decades from now, but right now trying to handicap events there is a mug’s game.”  

We have all seen this bad movie before—when those American “experts” and some expatriate Iraqis who spent years working in Washington to build the case for coercive regime change in Iraq told us with such confidence that Saddam Husayn’s regime had weapons of mass destruction and that Iraqis would welcome regime change imposed from outside.  It wasn’t bad luck for those who made these arguments that they turned out to be wrong—it was bad analysis based on unquestioned but faulty assumptions.  As on Iraq then, so on Iran today—no one should be excused because they failed to ask hard questions.       

Flynt Leverett appeared on PBS’s Newshour last night to discuss many of these issues, on a segment that also featured David Albright from the Institute for Science and International Security and Reza Aslan.  A link to the segment is provided here.      

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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58 Responses to “MISREADING IRANIAN POLITICS IN WASHINGTON”

  1. Sandwich Loving Basiji says:

    Cheese: Couldn’t have said it better. If the Green Movement was smart, they would give out chelo kabab at protests to one-up the sandwiches of the regime and then just watch as support for the “evil” regime melts away like butter on a hot kebab. I wonder if the “chelo kebab tactic” is mentioned the various guides to velvet revolutions being e-mailed to Iran

  2. Parviz says:

    Flynt Leverett is a one-trick pony. He should give it a rest.

  3. Leonardo says:

    I found your blog on MSN and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my favorites. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  4. Amir says:

    Flynt and Hillary,

    Name of Howard Baskerville is the first american name registered with the Iranians’ memories. He is named the Iran’s American Martyr, and truly so. I am not expecting nor requesting you to follow the same path.

    Nonetheless, I hope, expect, and request to not to be hitmen for a regime that has turned from a republic into a semi-military dictatorship. I understand how hard it is to turn away the temptations and seductions of the supports that such dictatorships are willing to provide you with, but I am begging you to turn them away. Have some dignity left for your future; work harder and settle with less as do many of your fellow Americans.

    America has once crushed dream of a nation to become the first real democracy in the middle-east. We are determined to realize this dream this time around and we will do so, please do not raise the cost to reform our system of governance with your delusional views.

  5. Dan cooper says:

    UltimateTruth and Brian

    What you both have written is the ultimate truth.

    The BBC is nothing but a Zionist infested nest.

    In support of Israel, The BBc will always Misrepresent and distort the truth about Iran.

  6. UltimateTruth says:

    An example for: How Propaganda Works In Western Media

    A missile test-fired by Iran last week was reported on the BBC World Service as being “capable of striking Israel”.

    The choice of words was not unusual. On previous occasions when Iran has test-fired a long-range rocket, the BBC and other western news media dutifully inform us that the said device is “capable of striking Israel”. The well-worn phrase is so reliably heard in these news bulletins that its use betrays a coded script. The not-too subliminal implications are that Iran is: a) a hostile state; b) doing something illegal in test-firing a long-range missile; and c) gearing up to deliver on its alleged threat to wipe out the state of Israel.

    Within hours of these reports last week, the US government weighed in with the pious accusation that the test-firing “undermines Iran’s claims of peaceful intentions”.

    This is a propaganda system at work: the choice of words and framework of logic designed to condition people into accepting certain options. In this case, the pre-determined option is a unilateral military strike on Iran either by the US or Israel. In that event, it will of course be reported by the BBC and other western media as a “pre-emptive” military measure to “prevent” Iran from attacking western interests in the region. Reported too, no doubt, will be the “collateral damage” of civilian casualties – unfortunate victims in an otherwise “just cause” to bring a “hardline regime” to abide by “international norms”. This is classic thought engineering that British political essayist George Orwell exposed so brilliantly – the official use of sanitised words to cover the sordid truth.

    So let’s rewind and play back the news with some pertinent facts and context that are routinely omitted in western media reporting.

    Iran has test-fired a long-range missile – within its sovereign borders. The US and its western allies carry out such weapons testing all the time, as is their sovereign right. One of the US’ allies, Israel, has a stockpile of nuclear weapons in contravention of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This same ally has previously committed acts of aggression (war crimes) by launching air attacks on neighbouring countries. Israel, with overt approval from Washington, has repeatedly said that it is prepared to militarily strike Iran “soon”, The US itself has warned several times that it reserves the right to use a military option in its relations with Iran. The US is waging illegal wars in three of Iran’s neighbours: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. A dynamic of fear and distrust between Gulf countries is fuelling a regional arms race. This dynamic is being pushed by the US with, what should be, obvious self-serving interests (massive arms sales, geopolitical influence) that are instead disguised by its bogeyman illusion of Iran, which, unfortunately, Gulf states appear to buy into. All told, these facts actually do “undermine US claims of peaceful intentions”.

    Here are some other facts that the western media curiously underplay. Iran is not at war with any country, although it is routinely accused in the western media, without supporting evidence, of covert subversion across the region. Iran is conducting a nuclear energy programme, which it has repeatedly said is for civilian power supply. After a decade of close monitoring by UN inspectors, which would never be permitted in its territory by the US or its western allies, the inspectors have reiterated that there is no evidence of Iran building a nuclear weapon. Nevertheless, this conclusion does not restrain Washington and London in their dogged assertion that Tehran is building nuclear weapons (cue more arms sales).

    Given these facts, the test-firing by Iran of a long-range missile is far from being a quasi-criminal act laden with hostile intentions. It is the action of a country that needs to show it can defend itself amid relentless provocations from proven and much more greatly armed aggressors, whose arsenal also includes a propaganda system that Nazi spinmeister Joseph Goebbels would have marvelled at.

  7. Brian says:

    Very good article. I think the headline should read: “Misrepresenting and distorting the truth about Iran in western media”, because the west is well aware that Ahmadinejad won the election fair and square. If anyone has doubt about that, I suggest 1. reading the scientific analysis report on election conducted by University of Maryland and published on World Public Opinion Website: ( Search Google for: university of maryland iran poll). 2. Looking at the scientifically-conducted public opinion survey prior to election by “Terror Free Tomorrow”: (Search Google for: iranan election poll terror free tomorrow). This survey was published by Washington Post, Guardian and some other media outlets before the election.
    The “stolen election” is simply a hoax propagated by western corporate-controlled media to destabilize Iran and secure the western economic and geopolitical interest in the region, U.S., Britain and their western allies’ ultimate objective is taking control of the vast gas and oil reserve in Iran and the Middle East.
    The so-called opposition and Green Movement was doomed right from the start, because they lack the support of masses in Iran.

  8. Iranian says:

    Have you ever heard of public services? Do you think that everyone needs he bring his own car?

    The video from the green propaganda site is obviously phony. They are pretty pathetic.

  9. Anthony says:

    The Levrettes and Marandi sitting on a tree… K. I. S. S. I. N. G!

  10. Samuel says:

    The Enduring America video is so obviously phony that its only value is in demonstrating how desperate Green propaganda is at the moment. Clearly it is footage at the Square shot BEFORE the event even got underway to which audio tape of Ahmadinejad’s speech has been added. Nice try.

  11. Sacrasm says:

    Where were the bueses? Half of those protest videos has Buses all over the place.

    I guess when the Iraqi Information Minister said there were “No damage in Baghdad” then led the media on a dog an pony show it must have been true right?

  12. Took Iranian Reader’s advice

    “Check out the video from the Feb 11 rally (at the time of Ahmadinejad’s speech) and the analysis posted by Enduring America. It offers an exceptional glimpse into the crowds “supporting” the regime”:

    http://enduringamerica.com/2010/02/12/iran-video-special-2-decoding-the-22-bahman-rally-in-azadi-square/

    and note that it undercuts the Leverett’s argument which is shilling for tired Cheney-Bush doctrine. There is a tight band of committed Revolutionary Guard supporters (who also have a vested economic interest in the current government), a large band of indifferent, and a large band of alienated but unorganized opponents.

    The Leveretts are correct to say that the Iranian Republic is not going away. And I am pretty sure that the current American administration is operating on that assumption. But its socio-economic-cultural problems are real. The Green movement is a voice of those problems. And ignoring it not only jeopardizes real lives, and ignores one real chance for change in the region, it is just not moral.

  13. Timothy L. Pennell says:

    What? They’re getting it wrong? That’s weird. Cause they always get everything right. The Economy. Jobs. Honduras. Colombia. North Korea. Civilian Trials for TERRORISTS. Mirandizing Enemy Combatants on the Battlefield. Health Care. Cap and Trade.
    Are you SURE that they’re getting the IRAN thing wrong? Cause that would be weird.

  14. Shame says:

    All any of these people want is what you have: the ability to protest their government without being beaten to death for it. Yet, you two are apologists for a regime that denies this basic human right. You’ve spent your entire lives living with that privilege, but would preclude others from having it. I think you are the very heart of evil for it.

  15. kooshy says:

    Not All Iranians Hate Their Regime

    To suggest that crowds only turned out for the 31st anniversary of the revolution to get free food and drink is western delusion

    By Matthew Cassel

    February 12, 2010 “The Guardian” — Describing the events in Iran yesterday, CNN correspondent Ivan Watson made a point of mentioning that free food and drink were handed out in Azadi Square to those celebrating the 31st anniversary of the revolution – as if the treats were part of a cunning ploy by the Ahmadinejad government.
    Although some of my friends in Tehran who walked for miles to attend the hours of festivities at Azadi Square told me regretfully that they were not offered free food or drink, I don’t doubt that refreshments were indeed distributed at the rally.

    Last October I attended a memorial service in Tehran organised by the Revolutionary Guard to honour hundreds of Iranian medical volunteers killed while caring for their comrades during the bloody eight-year war with Iraq.

    At the entrance of the packed auditorium small trays of fruit, juice and water were handed out. I tried to politely decline the offer from the man in camouflage, but was later happy that his insistence succeeded. I found the banana and pineapple flavoured juice box quite refreshing as the service dragged on for a number of hours.

    Anyone who has spent time in Iran and the Middle East knows about the hospitality of this region. It’s extremely disrespectful for a host not to offer a guest food or drink. To suggest that free food and drink were one of the motivating factors that brought hundreds of thousands out to Azadi Square yesterday is beyond absurd. This assumption that in order to support Ahmadinejad one must be from a poor, rural or illiterate background highlights a larger bias in the western media in their attempt to demonise the Islamic Republic and ignore its widespread support.

    As CNN and others have attempted to give background into the modern history of Iran, the deposed Shah has been described merely as “pro-western” with little mention of his utter lack of support from the Iranian masses and the brutal repression by his regime to forcefully quell any voice of dissent.

    Similarly, it is rare to learn about the US-led coup against the democratically elected government in 1953 that put the Shah in power for more than two-and-a-half decades. The Shah was not merely “pro-western”; his absolute monarchy was a western creation and he remained what many consider a puppet of the US for his entire reign.

    The Iranian overthrow of the Shah in 1979, and the subsequent referendum on the Islamic Republic, were supported by the overwhelming majority of Iranians. For the first time in centuries they were choosing their own destiny. However, this destiny did not necessarily comply with the interests of those governments who had long influenced Iranian affairs and reaped profits from the country’s resources, particularly Iran’s immense oil reserves.

    Since the revolution, the US and other western governments have been at odds with the Islamic Republic. After the September 11 attacks in New York, the Bush administration carelessly lumped Iran (along with its historic enemy, Saddam Hussein) into its simplistic “Axis of Evil” category. Most large media networks in the US followed suit and have not treated the Islamic Republic as anything less than evil in their coverage.

    By removing this blatant Bush-era bias a more accurate image of the events unfolding in Iran emerges. Since soon after its inception, the Islamic Republic has faced protests from varying numbers among Iranian society. After last year’s disputed presidential elections, the opposition’s numbers reached a peak.

    The Iranian authorities have imprisoned, beaten and even killed many of those who have taken to the streets in a condemnable display of force. But is this really the “Twitter”, “Green” or just plain ol’ “revolution” that much of the western media is making it out to be?

    The pro-government masses that took to the streets in June after the elections to celebrate Ahmadinejad’s victory, and then again after the clashes during the Ashura holy day in December, and now to commemorate the anniversary of the revolution, should indicate that no, this is not a revolution but rather a deepening internal divide.

    To speculate whether the majority of Iranians support the government or the opposition is irrelevant. First we need to understand that it’s not free juice boxes and small bags of cookies bringing the Iranian masses – from either side of the political divide – out on to the street.

  16. Just a citizen says:

    “The only thing that the Greens are going to accomplish is a state where the IRGC and the Basij play a more prominent role. Unintended consequences from a Green movement which is quite delusional in its outlook and tactics.”

    Samuel– what would you have them do? Look at the regime they live under– should a single person stand to live in a society in which someone will fracture your skull for wearing the color green? I guess it was “delusional” to oppose the Nazis.

    You’ve seen the videos– who’s beating unarmed women into unconsciousness? Who’s setting free captured policemen?

    When will regime apologists wake up?

  17. Dan cooper says:

    If USA believes that Iran is not even capable of enriching uranium to 20%, how can they accuse Iran of building nuclear weapons, which require enrichment to 90%?

  18. Just a citizen says:

    Flynt and Hillary– how much is the regime paying you?

  19. iranian reader says:

    Check out the video from the Feb 11 rally (at the time of Ahmadinejad’s speech) and the analysis posted by Enduring America. It offers an exceptional glimpse into the crowds “supporting” the regime:

    http://enduringamerica.com/2010/02/12/iran-video-special-2-decoding-the-22-bahman-rally-in-azadi-square/

  20. iranian reader says:

    Google Earth pictures released by Google at 10:47 am Tehran time on Feb 11 at the time of Ahmadinejad speech reveals the sparseness of the crowds at the Azadi square. Take a look:

    http://news.gooya.com/didaniha/archives/2010/02/100390.php

    Please stop aggrandising the support this regime has. The regime is capable of gathering large crowds (100s of thousands) but that is the extent of it. It would be strange if they couldn’t bus in that many people any way.

  21. Samuel says:

    To David Arthur,

    “Delusional article altogether! The U.S. stands for democracy and should support democracy movements not the dictatorial regimes!”

    Sure democracies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Israel in the West Bank, Afghanistan. What nonsense. Have a great and safe trip back to Earth from whatever planet you currently inhabit.

  22. Brown says:

    Excellent analysis based on facts! good work Leverett

  23. David Arthur says:

    Delusional article altogether! The U.S. stands for democracy and should support democracy movements not the dictatorial regimes!

  24. Samuel says:

    Brilliant analysis once again from the Leverett’s. The only thing that the Greens are going to accomplish is a state where the IRGC and the Basij play a more prominent role. Unintended consequences from a Green movement which is quite delusional in its outlook and tactics.

  25. Green Supporter says:

    Sir! You are so worried about property! I am too! but freedom of expression is more important to me. Freedom to protest! freedom to express your opinion! freedom to wear Green! or any damn color you wish!

    Mind you that this is the same excuse all dictatorial regimes use. I can show you 100 newspaper headlines from 1979 saying: “Trouble-makers are destroying property”.

    What do you expect when “permits” are not issued for the Green demonstrations?! And what do you expect when the Basij attack unarmed demonstrators? Should the people stand there and get beaten up? Why is it that pre [s]election nobody was burning motorcycles? 3 million Green marched in Tehran on June 20th and not a single motorcycle was burnt! You repress people and this is the result!

    Do you think the 1979 revolution illegal? a lot of property was damaged then!

  26. Dan cooper says:

    FLYNT LEVERETT: I could not agree more with what you said on PBS’s Newshour.

    You said and I quote:

    I think the Obama administration goes down a very dangerous path if it lets support for this Green Movement take over its Iran policy.

    The Obama administration, the United States, has very, very important objectives vis-a-vis Iran, with the nuclear issue, with Iraq and Afghanistan, with other regional issues. The United States needs to be doing serious strategic business with the Islamic republic as it is, and not as some might wish it to be.

    And that’s what the Obama administration needs to be focused on, and not give into what is, frankly, an illusion that Iranian domestic politics are going to produce some government that we are going to find much, much easier to deal with.

    Reza Aslan, the young iranian is totally out of touch with reality of whats happening inside Iran.

  27. kooshy says:

    Aziz are you contradicting yourself here? if they didn’t then why would you need to argue and justify if they did it then is ok to do it now. Everyone has seen the videos on all major new media of police cars, city buses and bank and private building broken burned can you explain who did that and how many non demonstrators from either side got injured and lost property. People on outside who saw this events unfold and are not happy seeing their property and lives jeopardized like to know.

    Anywhere in the world including the US to demonstrate for one reason and another you need to get a permit for good or bad. I am sure if your group or supporters in their previous demonstrations had acted violently crashed with the police burned garbage bins or cars or banks or personal property or even when asked and refused to leave you will not be allowed to demonstrate again and to me that is a good security decision by folks who have to provide security for public as well as the demonstrators

  28. tca says:

    Ahmadinejad seriously looks like Jurgen Prochnow, circa 1984. Re-watch Lynch’s Dune and look for Duke Leto. It’s like they were separated at birth.

  29. Ali Katira says:

    Pay, I don’t think approval is required here. I am not sure if you can put links here though. Just put a space in between each letter of your link reference. like h t t p : / /

  30. Green Supporter says:

    Nobody is burning banks or breaking windows. Perhaps you wished it happened so you could justify the repression? Yes trash bins are set on fire to counter the effects of tear gas.
    Even when your motorcycle thugs who are beating up people are captured, the Green just lets them go. The videos on that are clear.

    By the way, why is it that the same people who participated in 1979 revolution, burning banks and movie theaters, demonstrating, chanting, getting beat up and shot by the Shah’s security forces are complaining about the Green Movement ‘breaking the law’? ouch! it must hurt to even think about it, huh?

  31. Ali Katira says:

    Mr. Kooshy, your assessment of the situation would be correct if we were talking about a free and democratic country. However, watching regime officials on state t.v. for two weeks continually making threats of: “we will crush the Green Movement”, “Do not display any Green symbols on Feb. 11″, “Do not chant slogans against the regime” does not match your assessment. All indications are that the forces were there to make sure no Green symbols would be present and no chants against the regime would be heard.
    Reading headlines of state media today: “We have now buried the Green Movement”, etc. etc. shows intent to crush the opposition.

    Repression is repression, no matter how you look at it. No sugar coating.

  32. kooshy says:

    And yes the peacefull demnostrators brake the banks and burn public properties and the police vehicles and security forcess supose to stand ther and watch, that is really peacefull.
    Clips of this acctions is what this demonstrators themselves love to seend to the western press which has a lots of viewers on CNN’s Iran on the blink program. Or you may want to respond that braking the Banks and burning cars and properties was done by Police, Basij or any other security forcess Iran has on his disposal that argument even if correct would not convince anybody

    Do you know what happened to the seattle and Pitsburg demnostrators they got beatenup and those folks didn’t brake in the banks or burn police cars they just refused to leave. Com on is enough with this

  33. Pay says:

    why don’t you approve my relpies? Are you unhappy about people seeing the truth in pictures and videos?

  34. Ali Katira says:

    LOL! the Basij and Revolutionary Guards were out in force to “protect” the peaceful demonstrators they were beating up? for the crime of wearing green? you are joking right? the only clashes that was there was between security thugs and the Green. may be the Chinese tanks were out in Tianemen Square protecting the students :)
    Mr. Koosha, one guy gets beat up by police in L.A. and there is outrage! they take the officers to court for 2 years! these thugs beat up 100s of protesters much worse than Rodney King and take them to dungeons and not even a word is said. What are you talking about?

  35. kooshy says:

    Opposition supporters and the western media constantly makes a point that why there was a need for so much security forces during the rallies, this a childish question
    with lack of perspective. If you accept the current Iranian government or not the current government is in charge of the security and it knows it has called for millions to come to rallies like they did in past many years it also knows the opposition has called for millions and according to LA times’ Mr. Dargahi they are expecting 3 millions will respond to the call now if there is going to be clashes between these opposing groups and there is going to be violence do the green folks expect that security people seat aside and let the sides beat each other to death or let them brake and burn the buses and banks and private and public properties. In LA we have seen when less then 100 of Iranian expatriates protest against the Iranian government in front of the federal Building there are sounded by the Police and security forces they are not there to beat up the crowd they are there to prevent clashes and protect the properties. Tehran is a city of 14 million strong what kind of security force you expect for a city that big that you can walk without any security concerns in any time of day and night, LA has over 100000 police still you can’t walk many parts of the city your wish nerveless be allowed to demonstrate.

  36. Green Supporter says:

    Liz,

    I didn’t want to say anything to you because I only thought of you as another misinformed person making outrageous claims.

    Dear, if you fill all of Azadi Square, including all the roads leading to the square, you can hardly fit 2 million people there. Your claims of 10 million+ is not even repeated by the Iran’s state t.v. I just don’t know where you got your numbers from but you are not only in the outfield, you are completely out of the ball park.

    Oh yes I have seen the footage of the bused in villagers sitting on the lawns at the Square while your favorite president is making a speech about how we have enriched uranium to 20% and how the west is scared of our advancements in technology! and only a few streets further the police are beating up demonstrators and throwing them into vans! what a joke!

    Regarding the U.S. funding for the Green Movement, the Movement has announced many times that we do not need financial help from outside the country. I wonder what this “U.S. fund” that you are talking about is used for! perhaps green ribbons? green baloons? or all the tanks and jet fighters that the Green Movement has been buying? Maybe you know something I don’t…or maybe you are parroting the Mullahs?

  37. Liz says:

    Green supporter should go and look at the footage of the demos in Iran.

    You’ve had your share of US federal funding for your green revolution. Now go get a real job.

  38. Liz says:

    Andrew is probably an apologist for the vile Obama regime.

  39. Andrew says:

    What is your motivation for being such an apologist for this vile regime?

  40. Green Supporter says:

    If we extend the reasoning behind this article to a few other dictatorial and repressive countries around the world, then it must be that all Cubans are in love with Fidel, the Burmese love the Burma government, and oh yes the Palestinians love the Israeli government. I wonder if the Israeli government is able to hold a similar rally in Jerusalem showing how much support it has while it leaves the Palestinians on the other side of the walls. And I bet Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett would be going: wow!

    This is what happens when you are out of touch with reality, have never been hit with a baton, your mother has not been raped in front of you and you are sitting in your cozy office somewhere in the west writing an article about the plight of people who have been repressed for 31+ years, have nothing to look forward to, are continually told what to do, what to wear, what to listen to, what to read and how to behave while regime officials are looting the country and stashing their money in European and East Asian banks (Bank Account list available, including names, if anyone is interested, I will send it to them).

    And oh yes, a few pundits with connections to the regime, are enjoying their time in western countries supporting a barbaric and brutal regime in Iran. Yes Mr. “22 Bahman” and “Iranian” why don’t you go back to Iran and live there instead of wasting the bandwidth here? I hear the internet connection is great there! I have seen too many of you hypocrites before to know that you “support” this regime and America is “bad bad bad”, Canada “sucks”, Europe is “Colonialist” but you live here!!! oh I know “you are planning to go back”…in the next 100 years.

  41. Iranian says:

    The Green movement is a joke and Green supporter has been drinking too much again.

  42. 22 Bahman says:

    Green Supporter:

    oh, yeah?! is this how disillusionment arises? to the point were you are now?

  43. Green Supporter says:

    Every movement needs to have hopes for the future. So do we. Sometimes people make bigger predictions which does not meet expectations. But listening to the most right wing supporters of the government in the past few weeks on Iran’s state t.v., it was obvious that they were very fearful about the Green showing on Feb. 11th. For two months they were preparing to clear Azadi Square from the Green. If the Green has no power and no presence, I wonder why there were 55,000+ troops on the streets yesterday clamping down on any form of protests. Some people were reporting that they were even being attacked if they didn’t repeat the chants from regime megaphones installed every 20 yards.
    For the past 31 years there have never been so many troops on the anniversary of the revolution. And despite all the busing of people from remote villages, they garnered 30,000+ at Azadi Square (Google Satellite Photos + YouTube videos of Azadi Square are Available online).

    I am amazed at some people in the west who think this regime in Iran has the numbers. One of the biggest headaches of this regime over the past 8 months has been lack of numbers. Otherwise they would have invited international monitors to oversea a free and fair election and that would have been the end of it. They just don’t have the numbers. They know it. We all know it and no matter how much photoshopping the regime does, it just does not have the numbers.

    We will topple this regime one way or another, sooner or later and then we will see who is going to eat his words. V V V

  44. kooshy says:

    Mr. Aslan looks like he is his 30s and he moved abroad during the revolution therefore he must have been not older than 10 at the time of the revolution.
    It would be interesting to know how professor Aslan and his Media supporters have such a deep knowledge of the Bused in people of Iran’s political affiliation.
    It is obvious that he is constantly invited to political commentary programs because his views are vetted by the editors of these programs and close to what US policy apparatus wants the US public has to hear. Just like prior and during the Iraq dilemma one wonders why the US media doesn’t attempt to show a view by Iranian experts that actually live in Iran, Iran has over 400 higher education institutions but you will never see them instead what you consistently get in this free media (CNN, FOX, MSNBC, PBS, NPR,BBC, etc.) is always the opposing view by an expatriate Iranian scholar and the semi pro Iranian government view by a western scholar and the third person who is suppose to be a technical or military expert will confirm that yes these guys are dangerous, so always if you get a fair one at best is a 2 to 1.

    With all the sad events that happened to the Iraqis and Iraq, a million loss of life, and a ruined country we can count on few things that also happened to US that will take decades to rebuild if at all possible to recover. Here is a few to think of

    1-complete loss of American political credibility in the world including within its allied nations
    2-complete loss and discreditation of the western media to the point of being irrelevant even to the eye of their own population
    3-complete loss of the myth of US and NATO military effective superiority confronting smaller nations
    4-complete loss of western moral standing with regards to human rights
    5-complete loss of western countries myth with regard to freedom of religion
    6-complete loss of credibility of western installed world organizations like UN and IAEA to the point of irrelevance
    7-complete loss of the western economic currency based finance system
    there are many more to add to this list , these are big losses that took many years to build, one would wander if this would be better for the world as whole but for sure it is very bad for the west

  45. Pirouz says:

    We were right, Leverrets. Good to see you are beginning to recieve the attention your analyses deserve.

  46. 22 Bahman says:

    kooshy:

    you are dead wrong ;) the government brought millions to Tehran by buses, and with the promises of free food. and for the gathering in other cities, they brought people from outside of the country, like Hezbollah,… ;). see the crowds in other cities like Karaj, RodeHen, Shahrood,… which are close to Tehran closely, they are obviously from Venezuela !.

    Reza Aslan talks like a MKE or a Monarchy. his out of touch style reminds me of those groups’ representatives in the past few years. these self styled experts don’t get the point. that small cities and villages, thanks to the technology, are aware of the situation, unlike the Shah’s time, and are strongly supportive of the system. watch the images and video from there also. it’s not the time that few thousands people could change the system in Tehran and others just watch them. Tehran is fast getting irrelevant in Iranian politics.

    yes, many left the city for the holidays including some of my family members. they attended the gathering in other cities than Tehran. so, the analysis is indeed the opposite as the flow of supports to Tehran. do these guys know Iran at all? it’s seriously doubtful.

  47. Jon Harrison says:

    I think you are right regarding the waning of the Green movement. We can wish it were otherwise, but we must deal with reality. And I’m glad to see you point out how wrong the other side was about what would happen on 2/11. I was also gratified by what F.L. had to say on The Newshour yesterday. It’s very important that at least one person with establishment credentials is out there making the case to the public.

    Still, even though the other side keeps making predictions that don’t pan out, the media isn’t focusing on these failures. The neocons continue to receive what amounts to a free pass to spread their errors in print, on television, and on the internet. This can only lead to bad things for the American people.

  48. Mehdi says:

    Only an idiot with no clue about how grass roots movements work would have thought that if the most important organizers of the green movement are rounded up prior to this event, and various forms of communications would have been hindered then the event would have turned out the same as if they were able to communicated effectively and organize this movement – and worse an evil person who isn’t a fool would boast on the movements results or worse suggest that its support base is contracting without mentioning the importance of having these factors for having any success!

    Since the ‘American’ authors in this site love to make ‘analogies’ of what is going on in Iran NOW to what happened to Iraq before the run up to the war or what happened in Iran back in 1979 – let me stoop to their level and give them an American analogy that hopefully they understand. What happened yesterday was like a case of having a Cinderella team that has made it to the super bowl against a much favored and stronger opponent. Both are going into the game with their star QB but the Cinderella team is without all their starting offensive linemen and for the past two weeks they haven’t been allowed to practice or watch any of the opposing team films (unlike the favored team)! And to make it worse the league is allowing the opponent to play with extra players. Now do you really expect the Cinderella team to win?

    Going along the line of analogies you two sound like the white folks in America who in 1960’s didn’t get the magnitude of the civil right movement at its inception. So when in one of the rallys that MLK or other activists had started only several black American showed they suggested that these black are wasting their time.

    Look average day Iranian who is not a political activist and yet is not happy with the direction that his or her country is heading is not trying to be a martyr just to make his or her point, and even the fewer ones that are activists and are in the frontlines are smart enough to know about both obvious effects of their action on their own lives but also in the future of their country.

  49. Dan cooper says:

    The White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: Iran is not capable to enrich uranium to 20% but the US Treasury Department imposed new sanctions and accused Iran of building nuclear weapons.

    To build nu-clear weapons: uranium must be enriched to 90%

    If USA believes that Iran is not even capable of enriching uranium to 20%, how can they accuse Iran of building nuclear weapons?

  50. Kamran says:

    Iranian:

    The Iranian parliamentary committee that investigated what happened at the Kahreezak prison stated that in the prison there were many abuses which led to 3 deaths, but that there was no evidence of sexual abuse.

    The police puts the number of killed at 46, which includes ten members of the disciplinary forces and two innocent bystanders who were caught up in the crossfire when a military base was attacked.
    —————–

    The Iranian police and Iranian parliamentary committees will never be seen as credible in the west, unless their figures and the results of their findings support “green” claims. The greens as well as Iran experts in the United States and UK
    should go into hiding for their stupidity.

  51. Liz says:

    The footage clearly shows millions in Tehran supporting the ISI and, according to my Iranian friends inside Iran, tens of millions demonstrating in support of the Islamic Republic throughout the rest of the country.

  52. Alien in Tehran says:

    Indeed, yesterday Tehran looked calm as never. A day before it was unusually congested with cars, and motorcycles overtaking the traffic using sidewalks. Obviously, many Tehranis decided to go away from the city on the long weekend. Revolution anniversary was quiet day, and the streets were almost empty (whoever has been in Tehran, knows what unusual scenery it is).

    There were units of motorized police dispersed on major squares in the city. They looked bored as hell. Once I saw them playing around on their bikes, to finally crash on a fence (sic!) Evidently, they had nothing to do.

    Azadi square, where the rally took place, was already empty at 3 p.m.

    It looked like a holiday, which it was. No signs of revolution.

  53. Pay says:

    I am amazed that the stupidity of the Leverettes does not stop after being repeatedly ridiculed and called out for their superficial analysis.

    Idiots, what part of brutal violence on streets don’t you get?! One protesters on the street represents hundreds who dare not expose themselves to savage beatings on street and torture after arrests.

    About 22 Bahman: Many protesters showed up but could not join each other and form large groups. And internet is almost down so you will only see official coverage from goons bused in by the regime to fill up Azadi.
    A tactical blunder for the protesters in trying to look like regime supporters and hide their green-ness (the green Trojan tactic). That’s all. Does America’s blunder in Iraq marks the end of its military superiority?

    Stop this opportunism! (unless, of course, your paychecks depend on them…)

  54. Cheese says:

    You fools you!

    Can’t you see that all those people are part of the green ninja turtles movement cleverly disguising themselves as supporters of the governments in order to receive some free delicious cake (Western sponsored cake is a lie)!

    You all work for IRI! Damn you. And don’t try to trick us with logic and reason. Damn you all to hell.

    Soon we will overthrow the governments of Iran with our turtle ninja powers bringing freedom and democracy and human rights and cake to Iran why not!

    You evil you!

  55. Liz says:

    Kooshy and Iranian:

    The problem is that US and western policymakers rarely learn from past mistakes. They will continue to rely on discredited “Iran experts” and accept statistics and numbers that the discredited green group gives to them.

  56. kooshy says:

    Today Feb 10 was a major embarrassing day for the so called Iran experts and their Western Media patrons. It was almost laughable watching this folks not knowing how to spin the bad news of huge pro revolution rallies and no protest, but it was fun watching the anchor, the expert and the analyst clueless what to say except that 100s of thousands were bused in and given free meal god knows if the professor Aslant can count how many busses will be needed and where are they serving the 100000s meals he is an idiot and an embarrassment for a news program. Someone should ask the professor that if the people who participated in this rallies had any fear of violence why would they bring their infant children’s with them specially while it was claimed by the opposition and western media like LA times that they are expecting 3 million protestors. It sounds like none of the participants believed any of the western propaganda claims to the point they felt safe to bring their children’s and elderly.

  57. Iranian says:

    A very good piece. Is anyone going to listen, though?

    For the record:

    The Iranian parliamentary committee that investigated what happened at the Kahreezak prison stated that in the prison there were many abuses which led to 3 deaths, but that there was no evidence of sexual abuse.

    The police puts the number of killed at 46, which includes ten members of the disciplinary forces and two innocent bystanders who were caught up in the crossfire when a military base was attacked.