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Widespread Riots in Iran As the People Throw Off the Mullahs

Some interesting news of NRO this morning:

IRAN ERUPTS? [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Secondhand, from an Iranian:
I am listening to KRSI (Radio Sedaye Iran) right now. There are many Iranians calling (from Tehran, and Gorgan, etc.).

All reports indicate that almost every neighborhood in Tehran is on fire. People are throwing home-made bombs, Molotov cocktails, etc. into the homes of mullahs, and burning pictures of Khamenei in complete defiance of his recent edict to mourn during the month of Muharram.

Background: Khamenei delivered a declaration (not really a fatwa, although some say it was) to Iranians to honor the month of Muharram, which started about two weeks ago, and to mourn and not have any parties of merriment. Well, the problem is that the Iranian New Year (Nowrouz), March 20th (totally non-religious and cultural event — although Zoroastrian in origin) falls in the middle of this, and Iranians were enraged about this edict.

Tomorrow is the last Wednesday of the Iranian calendar year (called Chahar Shanbeh soori), and traditionally Iranians burn small bonfires and jump over them and celebrate the ending of the old year and welcome the new.

As a measure of defiance of Khamenei’s Islamic Rule, and in celebration of ancient (non-Islamic) Persian customs, Iranians have taken to the streets in complete defiance of Khamenei’s edict, saying that they will ‘burn the mullahs out of their homes’. They are celebrating Chahar Shanbeh Soori. There are huge bonfires, bomb-throwing, merriment and the welcoming of the last days of the mullahcracy. In their own way Iranians are making a huge statement.

You can listen to the news yourself (in Farsi of course) everyone is very happy and celebrating defying the mullahs and burning of Khamenei’s picture and trying to burn all mullah’s houses. There are people calling from all over Tehran, from Gorgan, and northern provinces… It is amazing!

Assuming these reports are accurate, I can see where the White House has much to celebrate.
I have my doubts the Iranian people would have the courage to toss off the Mullahs had Iraq not gone down.

Let’s see here. Libya, now Iran.
Tell me again, how Iraq was the wrong thing to do.

UPDATE: Me at Drezner’s this morning, on this topic, in response to another reader there, who said:

That piece from the NRO is interesting, but remember the student uprising last year? The NRO and a few other sites were claiming that the mullahs were about to fall and Iran was about to become a real democracy. But the students ended up being crushed by the government and the mullahs were back.

I hope that these reports are true, but I’m not that optimistic.

I share your short term unease with this. Longer term though, not so much.

It’s quite true that not every earthquake that comes along topples a building, a number of earthquakes that would be unsuccessful at it individually, tend to be successful at it eventually. I think you’re correct that NRO has overstated this in the past.

That said, though, let’s look at the longer term. Iran finds itself in the midst of change; change that it’s 13th century rulers won’t be able to ‘ruthless bastard’ their way out of, I think.

Consider what’s going on just over the border in Iraq; The Iraqi people are now better off than they’ve been in decades. Word of this is starting to permiate even the limited communications channels of Iran. Word of mouth, particularly involving freedom, is a hard thing to stop. Freedom is within sight, literally, of the Iranian people…. just over the border. They now see, in their own geographical and cultural neighborhood, what it means.

A government being more ruthless when freedom is within sight, is committing suicide…. the only questions are how long it will take to die, and how many of it’s citizens will it drag along with them, into hell, and how many more such earthquakes it will take to topple them.

The fears of some (yourself included) that the government will try to crack down are valid in the short term; I think they will try. But if past be truly prolouge, that will only strengthen the resolve of the people there, as it has in revolutions around the world and throughout history.

The gamble here, of course is what pops up in the place of the current regime.