The green movement is not dead. Not by a long shot. In fact, today, the Iranian regime may be facing the perfect storm, as The Washington ‘Times reports:
A respected opposition leader is being mourned, it is the most holy day of the year for Shiites, and the pro-democracy Green Movement is more energized and radicalized than ever. The spirit of liberation is alive and well.
A week ago, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri passed away at age 87. Montazeri was a senior regime critic who at one time had been the designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, but he broke with the revolution when he saw the destructive path it was taking and was sent into internal exile in the holy city of Qom. In November, when the Islamic regime celebrated the 30th anniversary of the occupation of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Montazeri said, “At the time, I supported it, but not today. It was a mistake.”
Montazeri became the spiritual godfather of the reform movement and was a strong supporter of the June 2009 street protests that broke out in the wake of Iran’s presidential election, which was widely believed to have been rigged. At Montazeri’s funeral on Monday, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators turned out, chanting anti-regime slogans and skirmishing with pro-regime Basij militia. It was the largest single civil protest since the street marches last June that made worldwide headlines.
Here is footage from the Montazeri funeral in Qom outside Masoumeh shrine Dec 21:
Here’s the BBC’s report on the events of the 21st:
A speech by the former president of Iran, Mohammed Khatami, was interrupted by protesters, today:
In this harrowing footage, protesters free two men who are in the process of being hanged:
Doug Ross reports that government mercenaries are beating women in the streets, again.
More reports are streaming in by the minute at #iranelection on Twitter.
Charles Krauthammer called 2009 a year of missed opportunities for Obama. He extended his hand to the oppressive Iranian regime even during the midst of its violent crackdown of protesters earlier this year, instead of “ostracizing and delegitimizing these gangsters”, Krauthammer says, “we should be encouraging and reinforcing the demonstrators”.
Such cool indifference is more than a betrayal of our values. It’s a strategic blunder of the first order.
Forget about human rights. Assume you care only about the nuclear issue. How to defuse it?
Negotiations are going nowhere, and whatever U.N. sanctions we might get will be weak, partial, grudging and late. The only real hope is regime change. The revered and widely supported Montazeri had actually issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.
And even if a successor government were to act otherwise, the nuclear threat would be highly attenuated because it’s not the weapon but the regime that creates the danger. (Think India or Britain, for example.)
Any proliferation is troubling, but a nonaggressive pro-Western Tehran would completely change the strategic equation and make the threat minimal and manageable.
What should we do? Pressure from without — cutting off gasoline supplies, for example — to complement and reinforce pressure from within.
The pressure should be aimed not at changing the current regime’s nuclear policy — that will never happen — but at helping change the regime itself.
Give the kind of covert support to assist dissident communication and circumvent censorship that, for example, we gave Solidarity in Poland during the 1980s. (In those days that meant broadcasting equipment and copying machines.)
But of equal importance is robust rhetorical and diplomatic support from the very highest level: full-throated denunciation of the regime’s savagery and persecution. In detail — highlighting cases, the way Western leaders adopted the causes of Sharansky and Andrei Sakharov during the rise of the dissident movement that helped bring down the Soviet empire.
Will this revolution succeed? The odds are long but the reward immense. Its ripple effects would extend from Afghanistan to Iraq (in both conflicts, Iran actively supports insurgents who have long been killing Americans and their allies) to Lebanon and Gaza where Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, are arming for war.
One way or the other, Iran will dominate 2010. Either there will be an Israeli attack or Iran will arrive at — or cross — the nuclear threshold.
Unless revolution intervenes. Which is why to fail to do everything in our power to support this popular revolt is unforgivable.
When he has a chance — perhaps after his long, relaxing vacation — President Obama can offer an opinion on these poor, unarmed citizens struggling to overthrow despots.
Perhaps when he’s finished eating his waffle cone.