Most Iranians love the regime, including Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader.
The opposition represents a small minority of foreign-inspired cranks. Regime spokesmen and online defenders (Perouz) assure us of this repeatedly. Unfortunately no one believes them. Assuming the regime is correct, imagine the advantages of boldly challenging the opposition to a head-on test of popularity--a “put up or shut up” deal.
Since an overwhelming regime victory is a foregone conclusion, the results will deeply discredit the opposition and thereby put an end to a crisis likely to continue indefinitely otherwise. Given the certainly of results, the regime must given the opposition no grounds to complain of rigging afterwards. To prevent that, I’d suggest five conditions.
CONDITION #1: Both pro-and anti-government demonstrations would hold their own demonstrations a week apart--each limited to a given but equal number of days by common agreement. Neither side would be allowed to hold counter-demonstrations so as to avoid clashes, intimidation or disruption that would taint any results.
CONDITION #2: So that no one can claim intimidation influenced turnouts, neither the basilj, undercover cops nor other security forces would be allowed to interfere with the opposition demonstrators or take photos of same. The police would have strong orders to arrest anyone who does so, whether plainclothes or uniformed. Such violators would be tried openly and publicly.
CONDITION #3: Government employees, both military or civilian, should have the same rights as all other citizen . They must be allowed to choose their own demonstration without advance pressure or threats of subsequent retaliation, such as job loss.
CONDITION #4: No government-provided buses and free giveaways for one side only and no outright bribes. Since the government is certain to win anyway, they are unnecessary and give the opposition a chance to make excuses for its massive defeat afterwards.
CONDITION #5: Encourage domestic and foreign journalists as well as international observers such as Amnesty International to closely monitor the demonstrations and see that all above conditions are met. Any restrictions on individual from both sides speaking freely to the media would be removed. Thus the regime won’t have to rely on a “We won because we say so” position, as is the present case.
MY PREDICTIONS (ASSUMING THE REGIME HONORS THE ABOVE CONDITIONS)
--Turnout for the anti-government demonstration will vastly exceed the 3 million one-day peak in public demonstrations the day after the election day theft and could run as high as 10 million. Huge crowds will be seen in every major city and virtually ever town will have substantial demonstrations.
--Turnout at the pro-government demonstration will be meager and tiny. Even if pro-regime supporters decided to restrict themselves to one city (Tehran) I doubt they can turn out a million or even 500,000.
--The opposition would welcome such a contest.
--The regime will not.
--We will hear strange excuses for that refusal.
ONLY A DEEPLY UNPOPULAR GOVERNMENT WOULD DECLINE MISS THIS CHANCE
--Only a deeply unpopular government would FEAR such a contest.
--Only a deeply unpopular government would FEAR a free press, fair elections and allowing any candidate to run regardless of gender or political position. If the latter were unpopular, he or she would get nowhere.
--Only a deeply unpopular governments would NEED technical tricks, such as requiring licenses it would then never allow then charging demonstrators with “breaking the law.“ It is identical to what South Africa’s apartheid government and the American South once did in enforcing segregation laws.
--Only a deeply unpopular would NEED to club, shoot, bomb, run over, arrest, torture or rape peaceful demonstrators, critical journalists and clerics, opposition politicians and human rights workers.
Such a refusal will confirm what the opposition claims: This government is massively unpopular, despite any claims to the contrary.
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