Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Interesting things in Iran?

I've been watching this with interest. The following was lifted from a discussion thread on fark.com:

important: The Iranian government is looking for dissident twitterers, so if you have an account, change your
location and timezone to tehran!

This seems to be helping quite a few
people, so I'll go ahead and repost it in every threads with some adjustments. Sorry, this
has reached
the level of TL;DR but I really am trying to cram
the most relevant information and speculation only. Everything is updated as events unfold, especially the timeline and what will
happen in the future.

Suppression of Dissent - The Players

Currently, there are either
two or three groups who are suppressing the students on the ground that you'll read about throughout this
thread:

1. The Basij
2. Ansar Hizbullah (which I will refer to as Ansar)3. Lebanese Hizbullah (Unconfirmed but highly probable. Der Spiegel, based on a Voice of America report
, says that 5,000 Hizbullah fighters are currently in Iran masquerading as
riot police, confirming the independent reports. Many different independent reports and video point tha
t way. Even in the last hours other independent twitter feeds have declared witnessing thugs beating on people while shouting in Arabic; I
will refer to them as Hizbullah)

- The Basij
are your regular paramilitary organization. They are the armed hand of the clerics.
The Basij are a legal group, officially a student union, and are legally under direct orders
of the Revolutionary Guard. Their main raison d'ĂȘtre is to quell dissent. They are the

ones who go and crack skulls, force people to participate in pro-regime demonstrations, and generally try to stop any demonstrations from even starting. They are located throughout the country, in every mosque, every university, every social club you can think of. They function in a way very similar to the brownshirts.

They were the ones who first started the crackdown after the election, but it wasn't enough. While they are violent and repressive, they are still Persian and attacking fellow citizens. A beating is one thing, mass killings another.

- Another group was working with them, whose members are even more extreme, is Ansar. There is a lot of cross-membership between the Basij and Ansar, though not all are members of the other group and vice-versa. The vast majority of Ansar are Persians (either Basij or ex-military), though a lot of Arab recruits come from Lebanon and train with them under supervision of the Revolutionary Guard. They are not functioning under a legal umbrella, they are considered a vigilante group, but they pledge loyalty directly to the Supreme Leader and most people believe that they are under his control. They are currently helping the Basij to control the riots, but due to the fact that they are Persians and in lower numbers than the Basij, they are not that active.

- The Lebanese Hizbullah is a direct offshoot (and under direct control) of the Iranian Hizbullah (itself under direct control of the Supreme Leader) and cooperates closely with Ansar though Ansar occupies itself only with Iran's domestic policies, while Hizbullah occupies itself only with Iran's foreign policy unless there is a crisis like right now. However, Hizbullah has been called to stop violent riots in Iran in the past.

(the following paragraph includes some speculation based on reports from ground zero) Hizbullah flew in a lot of their members in Iran, most likely a good deal even before the elections in case there were trouble. They are the ones who speak Arabs and are unleashing the biggest level of violence on the Persians so far. Another wave arrived recently and there is chatter that yet another wave of Hizbullah reinforcements are coming in from Lebanon as we speak. According to Iranians on the ground, they are the ones riding motorcycles, beating men women and children indiscriminately and firing live ammunitions at students.

What will happen

Unless the army decides to intervene in the favor of the Council and to stop the early beginnings of the new Revolution, Ansar & Hizbullah members will be the ones doing the brunt of the killing and repression with Basij as a support while also protecting government buildings and try to do crowd control. The police seems to have for the most part disbanded in centers like Tehran according to all reports, including international media. If the police decides to come back, they will focus less on protection and crowd control, so the Basij will start to crack more skulls).

Currently, this is what is happening.


Timeline
note: I built this through both articles and twitter feeds, so I do not claim that this is a 100% factually correct representation of reality, but this is the general narrative.

- When the first spontaneous riots erupted, the first wave the Iranian Riot Police was called in, and short after the Basij also took the scene. The RP concentrated mostly around public buildings and streets while the Basij took position around student groups, especiallly universities.

- As things got more out of hand, more and more Basij troops were called in, as the police started dispersing. The riot police are less inclined (or, rather I should say the Basij are more inclined) to use violence so they retreated and leaving the place to the Basij.

- With the second wave of Basij also came Ansar Hizbullah members. This is the point where firearms started being used. There are reports of a few murders but it was mostly fired in the air or on walls in order to scare away protesters in University dorms.

- It's around the time of the second wave that the first reports and videos of an important number of non-Persian thugs shouting in Arabic and violently beating people with chains, clubs and electric batons (similar to cattle prods). The end of the second wave came right before the beginning of the current manifestation. Things were getting quieter with only sporadic reports of dissenters being assaulted. Important to note: at this time. the Supreme Leader has authorized these militias to use live ammunition against the crowd if things get out of hand (source: BBC)

- This brings us to the third wave, which just began around 12:30PM for those of us on the East Coast. According to all reports, plainclothes militia have opened fire on civilians protesting peacefully. Chaos erupted in the streets, with reports of fighting all over Tehran and spreading over Iran. Pictures of people shot, some to death, surfaced and were published in the mainstream media. Things very are ugly and this is spreading in other cities as well. Violent and murderous repression has started. At least a twenty people have been killed so far. Things will spiral down fast, and very soon.

There is a major crackdown on students, especially those with connections to the outside world going on right now. Some people report that the students are fighting back in some
areas. Telephones are being bugged and everyone twittering and sending videos outside of Iran are being rounded up. ISPs were shut down, government hackers are threatening people who twitter, and some of them have vanished in the last 24 hours.

Later, the people started to fight back. First, they took over and burned down a Basij base, killing its commander. Later, a Basij shot a young man in the face in front of their HQ, at which point a policeman went to confront them. The Basij beat the policeman, at which point students stormed the compound, throwing molotov cocktails, burning it to the ground. This is very big.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, supporters of Moussavi have a manifestation planned for 5pm, Tehran time. Roughly the same number or more is expected to attend. Plenty of twitter chat about dressing in black.

The pro-Ahmadinejad crowd however are planning a counter-demonstration at the very same place the supporters are supposed to gather at 3pm. Most agree that basically they are simply going to gather for a confrontation. Basij from all over the country are moving to Tehran and supporters are being bused from all over the country.

A major showdown is expected to unfold

The Supreme Leader has also called for a 10-day inquiry into the claims of fraud, but it has been widely dismissed as cosmetic. The Revolution lives on.

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