Iran erupts in popular protests (CNN is otherwise engaged)

Iran erupts in popular protests (CNN is otherwise engaged)
Iranian protesters in the clerical seat of Qom shout "We do not want an Islamic Republic!" (Image: Screen grab of video via Twitter)

There isn’t a lot profound that needs saying here. The situation basically speaks for itself.  In the last 24 hours, mass protests have broken out all over Iran.  This level and kind of protest has not been seen since 2009.

CNN is burying the story, in favor of a slate of tired domestic news, and an odd fixation on a white box truck that has parked near the Trump golf course at Mar-a-Lago in the last couple of days.

We can be relieved to know that the white truck belongs to the local sheriff’s department.  CNN was concerned that the truck was deliberately parking in such a way as to obscure the network’s video stakeout of the golf course.  But apparently that’s not the case.  (See update below on MSM being AWOL on this topic.)

Meanwhile, in Iran, the streets protests have spun up quickly to a surprising level.

Protesters in one location actually swarmed the police to prevent an officer from arresting a protester.

Reportedly, protesters in Esfahan are shouting “Death to Khamenei!”

Earlier reports had crowds shouting against President Rouhani.  But it’s quite unusual for Iranian crowds to shout against the ayatollah.  They didn’t do that in 2009.  As Sohrab Ahmari points out, Esfahan is a city known for Islamic piety (and loyalty to the regime).  Hearing cries of “Death to Khamenei” there is not something to be dismissed lightly.

*Note*: This tweet came in after I had begun assembling this post, confirming my impression that this is something unusual.

Meanwhile, in a tweet a couple of hours after his earlier one above, Ahmari catches protesters hollering “Death to Hezbollah,” and “Death to the Islamic Republic,” both of which are pretty pointed.

These protesters in Qazvin are chanting “Mullahs get lost!”

In another video, an Iranian woman stands defiantly unveiled at a protest rally.

That too is something that takes courage, and is rarely seen.  These Iranians aren’t out for a lark.

Here they shout “clerics, let go of our country”:

The seriousness with which the regime is taking the protests is clear:

They are activating the Basij domestic security forces (which would be analogous to an American governor calling out the National Guard, if the Guard were a repressive, brutal arm of an authoritarian regime).

Lisa Daftari reports on a shooting (by security forces) captured on video in Ahvaz (near the Iraqi border and Shatt-al-Arab in extreme southwest Iran):

Daftari says the protests are largely targeting the government over economic hardships and the regime’s support for adventurism abroad (i.e., Hezbollah, the interventions in Syria and Yemen) while the Iranian people are suffering.

But, again, the protests against the regime itself – the Islamic Republic – and the ayatollah are uncharacteristic.  And there have been numerous reports of crowds shouting basically positive slogans about the Shah – who was deposed nearly 40 years ago.  See, for example, the “Reza Shah” chants mentioned in the tweets above (Reza is the name of the late Shah’s son), and another tweet from Daftari, in which government accountability is associated with the late Shah’s regime:

This is not an ordinary protest going on.  It’s not clear where it is headed right now, but some good news is that the U.S. State Department has issued a statement conveying support for the right of peaceful protest, and condemning arrests and brutality against protesters.

Press Statement

Heather Nauert
Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC
December 29, 2017

We are following reports of multiple peaceful protests by Iranian citizens in cities across the country. Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people.

The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters. We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption.

On June 14, 2017, Secretary Tillerson testified to Congress that he supports “those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.” The Secretary today repeats his deep support for the Iranian people.

Regional media have noted this as a different reaction from the silence evinced by the Obama administration during the “Green Revolution” protests in 2009.

Indeed, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon, writing in his 2016 book Iran Wars, Obama didn’t just maintain silence in 2009.  He ordered the CIA to cut off contacts with Green movement supporters, and ended funding to U.S. sponsored efforts to promote human rights in Iran and document abuses.  According to Solomon, the Obama administration regarded this as necessary, even in 2009, in order to obtain some kind of nuclear “deal” with Iran.

America doesn’t need to “meddle” in the developing situation in Iran, of course.  The Iranians don’t need us to chart the course of regime change for them.  They are an ancient people with a tremendous historical legacy of their own: a sense of nationhood and a basis for unity that long predate not just 20th-century map-drawing and the rise and fall of modern empires, but Islam itself.

We can show our support for peaceful freedom of expression and self-rule, however.  That has always been our best role.  (Reminiscent of the Reagan Doctrine, in fact, which was about empowering popular movements against authoritarian regimes.)

As I was putting this post together, President Trump tweeted about Iran.

We will see where it all goes.  With or without CNN.

Update: The silence of the U.S. MSM really is extraordinary.  What is happening in Iran is historic.  Our major media are almost entirely ignoring it.  Omri Ceren (news commentator, analyst) went through MSM on Friday and assembled documentation.  The results are astounding.

Final spectacle: massive crowd in Qom – the clerical, religious capital of the Islamic Republic – shouting “We do not want an Islamic republic!”  Three hours ago.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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