It is all about red lines. It's not that Khamenei did nothing but that his crimes were miniscule by comparison to others. Assad and Khadaffi chose open public massacres and total destruction of their countries to retain power. Assad's slaughter rate now exceeds 100 per day. Peripheral damage includes the medievalization of future generaions, refugee flight and the intolerable destabiliation of neighboring states.
Since the post-election crackdown 79 known protestors have been murdered on Khamenei's command. Assad beats that daily. Averaged since the crackdown started. the IRI slaughter rate for protesters is less than one every ten days. Property damage has also been minimal.
Khamenei the Good?: Not Really!
Regime propagandists make Khamenei sound like a softie. Manouchehr writes: "A 'minority' of the Iranian population rose up in 2009 against what they were deceived into thinking was a "stolen election" when it was in fact a free vote. The authorities never imposed martial law during the crisis and tried to keep casualties as low as possible."
The first whoppers rebut themselves. The regime did not have to formally declare martial law because it could create one de facto. Any restraint on Khamenei's part stemmed from calculated self-interest. He needed just enough brutality to break demonstration and keep them broke. There was no Free Iranian Army to stop him. Pushing violence further might create one. Khamenei also benefited from a divided opposition (reformers vs.realists) and the Green's "no violenct resistance" doctrine. Otherwise the IRI might be long gone. See my previous blog:
2009 VS. 2012
In 2009 many Iranians thought they had three choice: 1. Substantial reforms and gradual evolution toward democracy; 2. Revolution, and 3. Acceptance of life in the Iranian Republic as their unchangeable fate.
Three years under a police state cured any illusions about the viability of Option #1, Today that leaves Iranians with a choice between what is Transiently Bad (Option 2) and what is Completely Abysmal. (Option #3). The latter limits casualties and destuction but at a hefty price: One must live endlessly like the poor souls in the link below (See photo at top) knowing for certain life can only be more bleak tomorrow.
Compared to 2009, the chances of successful revolution in Iran are exceptionally favorable in 2012 and will continue to improve as everything goes bad for IRI rulers. Khamenei has gained only one advanage (experience in repression) while the Iranian people have gained five major ones: 1. Realism. 2. working class alienation; 3. security force lienation; 4. Lessons in tactics and strategy from Syria, and 5) Favorable consequences of Assad's downfall. It would weaken the regime, embolden the and make Russia wary of backing Iran to the degree it backed Assad.
TIMING THE UPRISING (in answer to MM)
As I wrote earlier, the regime must nip any protests in the bud before any Free Iranian Army can form. Spotaneity, surprise and flexibility are critical. Assad's downfall and Election Day are potential explosion points but the regime knows it as well and will be fully ready. It might be best to wait until regime forces are sent home.
Despite surveillance of the internet and public, there are a few things people can do to be ready when the first major protest breaks out:
1. Pass the word (It's time).
2. Create new demonstrations in as many places as possible
3. Agree in advance to a "no respite" policy with demonstations (mobile if necessary) in as many places as possible.
4. Prepare useful signs, graffiti and chants especially those urging security defections and protecting the people.
WHAT THE SYRIANS OWE TO IRANIANS
In 2009 the Iranian people were pioneers who inspired the Arab Revolution. Just as Iranians can learn from Syrian tactics today, the Syrians learned something important from what happened to Iranians. After showing relative restraint, Assad decided to crack down on his protestors using the very techniques Khamenei had used. Syians who had previous insisted on "peaceful demonstrations only" had the Iranian example to see where they would end up unless strategy and tactics changed.
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