ROUNDUP: Why Iranians should keep a eye on events in six countries


by FG


Every hard-line Islamist state alienates its population the same way. Regardless of any initial enthusiasm, most Iranians and Sudanese now describe their lives as hellish.Ironically states that endorse Islam by compusion contradict the the Koran ("There shall be no compulsion in Islam?") Don't these guys ever read it?

A GENERAL PRINCIPLE: Totalitarian Islamist regimes are always corrupt, always brutal, always economically incompetent and grow more so as time passes. When popular discontent emerges, they always reach for the same cure: Islamic law enforced more harshly than ever. Somehow it never works. Iranians will think they are looking in the mirror when they read this:



Khamenei is having a hard time convincing young Arabs that Iran's model is the way to go. Now he faces competition from two--not one--democratic Islamist countermodels. Neither Turkey or Tunisia are oil rich, unlike Iran, but both seem headed for prosperity while the IRI's economic future looks permanently bleak. For young Arabs its like picking between THIS:




When Islamist rule collapses in Iran it will be gone for good, so discredited that even democratic Islamist parties will struggle for votes. As for what's happening in Tunisia by contrast, check out this Al Jazeerah video:



This morning the Washington Post has an outstanding report on how quickly things are falling apart for Assad, Khamenei's ally. It leads me to compare the relative advantages and disadvantages of these two regimes in coping with their massive unpopularity.


COMMON FACTORS: Externally both regimes enjoy pariah status. Internally neither can win back the population now, thanks to key decisions and lack of a time machine to undo them. In both, downward momentum continues with no respite in site.

WHERE IRAN HAS AN ADVANTAGE: The IRI is better prepared in terms of numbers, practice and experience for crushing any uprising. Unlike Assad, it also knows trouble is evitable. The main question in Iran's case is impossible to predict, "Exactly when will the explosion will occur?" That it will happen is inevitable. The longer the delay, the larger the explosion and the less reliable security forces will be.

WHERE IRAN IS WORSE OFF: When the current protests broke out in Syria, Assad was still reasonably popular, Syria was not isolated externallly and any "fire under the ashes" was relatively undetectable. If and when protests break out again in Iran, Khamenei will enjoy none of the advantages Assad had initially. Secondly, confidence and morale remained relatively high among Assad's support groups until very recently (especially the last two weeks). The next wave of demonstrations haven't even started, and long time supporters sense the hot water Khamenei's decisions have created for them. They are even speaking out publicly. Finally, for so many reasons the West and neighbors won't hesitate if brutalized Iranians appeal for a no-fly zone and other assistance.


To enable his crimes, Khamenei created and nurtured two monsters, Ahmadinejad and and ecomically and politically empowered security forces. The first has already begun to turn on him. If the ship appears certain to go down, the generals may turn on Khamenei for the same reason they did so in Egypt and Ceaucescu's Rumania--to save themselves and hold on to what they've gained. Thus, if Khamenei is ousted by coup or by civil war, the generals will likely be as much trouble afterwards as their Egyptian counterparts.

The only two scenarios I see that avoid it are internal (a victory by Khoumeini's grandson in the 2013 presidential election) or partly external (The regime is totally ousted after provoking war through reckless military actions in the Persian Gulf).


Libya is now divided into dozens of fiefs held by different factions that fought to oust Quaddafi. The longer Assad hangs on, the more likely Syria will have the same problem.

For several reasons I don't see that kind of fragmentation after the IRI falls and regardless of how it falls. The danger may be minority breakaway movements motivated by thirty plus years of persecution. Urged to be patient and trust the new government, minorities may have genuine fear no matter how sincere the offers.

Another danger may come from hard-line Islamists. In Tunisia a small Salafist minority has been making demands but has little popular support among a people used to western lifestyles. In Iran moderate Islamists may form truely democractic parties but they'll have a hard time getting votes after the bitter experiences under Khamenei. Hard line Islamists may resort to "asymetric" meansures used earlier. Will women who dump hajibs or wear skirts suffer acid attacks? Will movie theaters be bombed (look up the Abadan fire)? Will barbershops and restaurants that serve liquor suffer attacks? Some compusory deprogramming of likely suspects may be required.


Russia is an authoritarian regime disguised as a democracy.  When weather permits, it will likely face its own protest movement consisting  of unnaturally incompatible factions (fascists, communists, western-style democrats) not likely to trust one another and lacking a moderate leader (George Washington, Nelson Mandela) to unify everyone afterwards. We may see large-scale outbreaks in too many places too far apart for the re gime to stifle but its fall could take years of increasing hardship and discontent.

Iranians should ask themselves two questions: Will Russia's domestic problems hinder support for Assad and Khamenei? Will discord spread to China with consequences in the Mideast?  The Chinese have suffered from disunity, revolution and civil war, just as Iranians have and may be reluctant to act for the same reasons. On the other hand, the larger a middle class becomes in China (its growth is critical to economic prosperity), the more the growing and powerful group will insist on a say in government proportionate to its contributions.


more from FG
Veiled Prophet of Khorasan


by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


It is not the fault of IC readers that your blogs are buried. None of us have any control over what gets featured and what is buried. The only input we got is to make a lot of posts and then it shows as "most discussed".

I get how discouraging it is. I myself wrote a blog on a very important historical figure "Ahmad Kasravi". This was on the occasion of his birthday. There was another blog the same day. It was on a Hollywood actor. Well guess which got the most posts. It was not Ahmad Kasravi. How a Hollywood actor is more important than Kasravi is beyond me. Anyway this is how it it.

Just one thing I want to add. You showed remarkable insensitivity to Iranians over Persian Gulf. Nevertheless your blogs are some of the most informative. Maybe if you are more sensitive you get more posts and show in "most discussed". Plus just because I don't post does not mean I don't read your blogs. I do read them but as I said I was not going to post until you showed sensitivity. This is an exception I make so you don't feel ignored. It is being "sensitive" to your feeling. 


Goodbye, all. Tired of seeing posts like this buried

by FG on

Yesterday, I posted this blog on Six countries Iranians should keep an eye
on.  It appeared on the home page briefly then disappeared about an hour later.  At least this one eventually reappeared--at least 12 hours later.  What's going on?  I find this sort of inexplicable behavior too frequently here of late.

It took me
hours to write the above, as is the case with most analysis posts but not news post.  What a waste of my time to put in such effort and see an analysis buried.  Is the piece that bad, or is someone playing games here.  Well it's you forum, your rules but if you do so you'll drive away serious posters.  If you disagree with an analysis do so, but if I want censorship I could move to Iran.  Why bother putting HOURS into writing something and posting it here?

In the late evening I posted--in the news section--a very good article
from Tehran Bureau about how Khamenei has become a leading figure of
ridicule in Iran (which you've read here if you were lucky enough to
find it.)   Six Hours later I find it doesn't appear on the first
page and consequently has only 28 reads.  Again, what's the point?   Anyone who bothers to read the Tehran Bureau article will surely agree its worthy of not being buried.  At least it didn't take much time to

I could understand if the posts were
frivolous or not worth reading.  Does someone with editing power have a grudge because something in my analysis above offended?  I can't figure out the reasons for this but why write hours for a back pages burial when I know a news story or analysis is decent?  I often look forward to some sort of discussion here after posting and it's impossible to have any exchange of ideas with problems like this.

Hey, it's your forum.  I don't have to play or contribute if this is how someone here feels.


I agree, a demonstration now is a mistake

by Mehrban on

The opposition should bide its time.  At least until the ousting of Bashar maybe even longer, it would be a setback to have demonstrations now.   Most everything is going the opposition's way, and without much political capital expended.  They should ride this wave and consolidate and organize for now. IMHO of course.


FG, you have been doing a lot of heavy lifting here, thanks. 



by shushtari on

right on the money, once again

assad is a gonner.....and I think, the mullahs are next......let's all pray to be in iran next eid norooz :) 


Historical comparisons

by FG on

RE: Announcement of Green intentions and their date

Against Batista, Castro failed once earlier but imagine if he had failed twice.  I fear that may happen to the Greens in this instance.  Launching the final opposition offensive to take down a regime is--up to a point--like planning for D-Day or Inchon.

Amphibious landings are one-shot deals.  When succcessful, they have powerful effect.  When not, they can lead to military castrophe since one has no place to retreat.  Timing, location, weather and misleading the enemy are critical.  Unless you want to be thrown back into the sea, you'd rather not face the regime's best troops, tanks, etc., waiting on the beach for your arrival.

In one respect this analogy does not fit.   A popular uprising in Iran must be spontaneous, wheras an amphibious landing cannot be.  In respect to an unrising, planning must center on how to take quick advantage when the uprisings start (the enemy should be the only one caught with his pants down) not when to launch them.  Meanwhile the opposition can prepare the ground for success, including taking advantage of growing enemy hardships to strike when he is weakest.  Always the goal is to avoid a Dieppe in favor of a Normandy.

The next round of demonstrations must succeed.  It can't afford to lose.  The trick is to avoid being either overly aggressive (see the Greens in this scheme, Union General Burnside at Fredericksburg, Hooker at Chancellorsville) or overly cautious in which case one fails to seize opportunities when they arrive and before the door closes. See Union George B. McClellan (Lincoln always said Little Mac "had the slows") or  General Clark in the WW II Italy landing.


A HUGE MISTAKE? Greens announce new demonstration

by FG on


The opposition Coordination Council of Green Path of Hope has called for a rally on 25 Bahman (14 February).--Enduring America

Regime insiders should stand up and cheer this stupid move.  What a
potential morale crusher for the opposition!  What a potential morale
booster for the regime!  It could add years to the regime's potential lifespan if it fails.  If it fails green leaders deserve villification. Let me count the problems:

1. WHY NOW? So many things are working to undermine confidence within regime insiders and increase anger among everyone else, starting with events on election day and including economic grievances, inflation and currency problems that alienate the regime's previous base of support.  We might even see Assad's downfall sooner than expected.  Note too that the weather also favors the regime at present but would favor the opposition later. Any general knows winter isn't the time to launch a big offensive.

2. TOTAL LACK OF SPONTANEITY. The next demonstrations must start spontaneously and preferable among the working class (more physical and less likely to be cowed) with Greens have pre-existing plans to join in and support.  You'd think the Greens would have learned by now not to send pre-written invitations to the security forces.


Simply inviting them won't do and it would deserve laughs. Almost everywhere recent revolutions have succeede the working class has played a leading part.  It is more physical and more prone to long-term resistence.


This is the best reason of all to wait until sometime after elections which worsen the above divisions.


Who benefits from that?  Given all the common sense reasons above, why would anyone except a few fanatics turn out.

Unless the turnout is huge, prolonged and countrywide, the regime may crush it easily.  For all of the reasons given above.  This move strikes me as so disadvangeous you'd almost think it had been suggested by covert regime agents.