It is hard to describe how I feel about the situation in Iran as protesters clash with the basij — a paramilitary group loyal to the incumbent government — and the Revolutionary Guard.[0][1][2] It is not a matter of ambivalence about the brutality of those security force though I am still quiet unsure whether fraud did occur. The issue has gone well beyond the question of fraud to the question of freedom. And when individuals actually die for freedom, my opinion solidified against the government led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

What I find it hard to describe is the kind of anger I am in, especially after watching a video of a young woman died after being shot.[3] Something simply has to be done.

Amid the chaos, it is important to take note that the ones suppressing the protesters are the basij and the Revolutionary Guard. In contrast, there are limited reports on the roles of police and the army in suppressing protesters. Some reports further suggest that the police and the army are reluctant in moving against the protesters. As Blake Hounsell writes at Foreign Policy Passport, if “we start seeing cracks in those forces, or the regular army, then the regime will really be in trouble. But it will take sustained pressure — more demonstrations, strikes, and smart politics — to get there.”[4] This of course not to suggest that the army is of one mind just as the Revolutionary Guard is not.[5]

Is intervention by the army — presumably based out of conscience as probably evident through the kind of reluctance reported — the only way out of the quagmire Iran is in at the moment?

It is unclear if the protestors could bring down the incumbent government but with the army in, it will surely makes the possibility of a new government brighter. The problem is, of course, if having a military government desirable?

At the moment, it is hard to say no, especially if the army acts on conscience. What guarantees that that military government will not turn on the very same Iranians who are exercising their rights to assembly and freedom of expression now is another question. The burning question is, will a military government be better than the current one, no matter how far short it is from the ideal of a liberal democratic state?

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

[0] — Thirty years ago, during the demonstrations that led to the Shah’s downfall, one of the dominant images was scenes of uniformed soldiers firing live ammunition at protesters. This week, Iran’s clerics seem determined, at least, not to repeat that historic mistake. They remember that the daily news coverage of the Shah’s soldiers shooting and killing unarmed protesters precipitated the collapse of the regime.

Instead, bearded plainclothes militiamen have been attacking and harassing the demonstrators in Tehran this past week. These are Basijis, members of a civilian paramilitary organization founded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979. It was conceived of as a civilian auxiliary force subordinate to the Revolutionary Guards, and so it has functioned over the past three decades. During the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, fervent Basijis volunteered to serve on the front lines. For a time, very young Basijis were encouraged to offer themselves for martyrdom by clearing minefields with their bodies in what became known as ”human waves”—literally walking to their deaths en masse so that more experienced soldiers could advance against the enemy. An Iranian friend of mine who is a war veteran described the Basiji boy martyrs as having played a tragic but significant role in the war, by providing Iran with a ”flesh wall” against Saddam Hussein’s vastly superior Western-supplied military technology. [Understanding the Basij. John Lee Anderson. The New Yorker. June 19 2009]

[1] — REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS: An elite military corps of more than 200,000 members that is independent of the regular armed forces and controlled directly by the supreme leader. The Guards oversee vital interests such as oil and natural gas installations and the nation’s missile arsenal.

BASIJ: A powerful volunteer militia directed by the Revolutionary Guards. Basiji played a high-profile role as “morality” police after the Islamic Revolution and now are often used in crackdowns of dissidents. Some estimates place the membership at 10 million, or about 15 percent of the population. [Key players in Iran’s disputed election. Associated Press via Google News. June 18 2009]

[2] — CAIRO (AP) — They’re the most feared men on the streets of Iran.
The pro-government Basij militia has held back its full fury during this week’s street demonstrations. But witnesses say the force has unleashed its violence in shadowy nighttime raids, attacking suspected opposition sympathizers with axes, daggers, sticks and other crude weapons.

At least once, the militiamen opened fire on a crowd of strone-throwing protesters. State media said seven were killed. [Feared Basij militia could transform Iran showdown. Associated Press via Google News. June 20 2009]

[3] — See Iranian woman killed in protests [Two Videos] at Youtube. Accessed June 21 2009.

[4] — It’s hard to tell who has the upper hand, but it seems like there are still plenty of people willing to beat, maim, even kill their fellow Iranians. That’s bad news for the good guys. Roger Cohen, the New York Times columnist who’s in Tehran, tells of a police commander who pleaded with demonstrators to go home because, “I have children, I have a wife, I don’t want to beat people.” From what I can glean from Twitter and various reporting, the regular police aren’t quite as eager to beat heads, in contrast with the hard-line Revolutionary Guard and basij militiamen. If we start seeing cracks in those forces, or the regular army, then the regime will really be in trouble. But it will take sustained pressure — more demonstrations, strikes, and smart politics — to get there. [War on the streets of Tehran. Foreign Policy Passport. June 20 2009]

[5] — According to Cyrus News Agency (CNA) in Iran, at least 16 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly attempting to join the “people’s movement.” Protests, riots and violence broke out in several cities in Iran on Saturday night following an election which many in Iran and the world say was fraudulent. [Report: Members of Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested for joining ‘people’s movement’. Wikinews. June 20 2009]

2 Responses to “[2015] Of is the Iranian army the best hope to stop the bloodshed?”

  1. […] See Also: The Most Staggering Footage Yet, Acid From The Sky, Violence In the Streets, Iran, stagflation, unemployment, Iran: Saturday, Neda, Chaos in Iran, Iran escalation, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Is it over yet?, Is The Islamic Republic Over?, Note From Anonymous Blogger in Tehran, and is the Iranian military the best hope to stop the bloodshed? […]

  2. on 22 Jun 2009 at 15:13 MRazwan

    In the name of the Islamic Republic those goons from the basij and th RG killed brothers in Islam and commit violence. This is a further prove that they are not really defending Islam per se, rather their power. Long have I suspect, that honest people they are not. We can only learn with respect to Malaysia that anything worse than that can happen and may happen here…

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