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Some useful current Iran links
June 19, 2009 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Andrew Sullivan, retweeting the revolution, day 7, aggregates many of the best "tweets" coming out of Iran. Over at Huffpo, There Will Be Blood: An interview with a journalist in Tehran. TPM has video of the basij shooting into a crowd, causing at least one protester to go down. Speaking of the Basij, the counter protesters credited with most of the violence, Jon Lee Anderson answers the question, What are the Basij?
posted by Stephen Elliott (131 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:00 PM on June 19, 2009 [15 favorites]


very cool
posted by caddis at 2:14 PM on June 19, 2009


It's disgusting that Andrew Sullivan keeps trying to reinvent himself when his political party of choice has done everything possible for the last fifty years to take away, through colonial wars, the civil rights of people inside and outside the United States of America.

More specific to current events, Andrew Sullivan's political brethren played an essential role in the overthrow of Iran's first democratically elected leader, replacing him with a torture-friendly puppet.

In other words, Sullivan is once again perpetrating a sham, and every time we drive hits to his employer, we help him with perpetrating that sham.

Just say no to his armchair "journalism". Just say no to that criminal and his friends.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:31 PM on June 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Even though he's infuriatingly soft on... things I feel he shouldn't be soft on, there's still no political journalist I respect more than Al Giordano:

I don’t know how the Supreme Leader wiggles out of the corner he has just painted himself into. The demonstrations aren't going to stop. Tomorrow may see the largest yet. He either has to convince the Armed Forces to send young soldiers to massacre the youth of a young nation, or he can’t carry out the threats he has just made. More “low intensity warfare” of the kind waged so far is only going to increase the ranks of the resistance and lose him the population in the middle. And I think it’s a safe bet that Mousavi and Rafsanjani and the others he was trying to convince to back down also see that he is speaking from a position of weakness, and aren't going to be cowed.

I frankly expected to hear a more savvy Supreme Leader than the doddering fool we heard from today, caught in a world that has already passed him by, without a clue of what to do next.

Many people’s reactions to his speech were along the lines of “oh no, this doesn’t look good, here comes trouble.” But it is not at all clear that this man has the power any more to deploy sufficient force to quell a revolt of millions.


I highly recommend the whole article.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:38 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


And, FWIW, Paul Craig Roberts - whose anti-Bush credentials are impeccable - says the CIA is partying like it's 1953:

Mousavi declared his victory several hours before the polls closed. This is classic CIA destabilization designed to discredit a contrary outcome. ...

As for the grand ayatollah Montazeri’s charge that the election was stolen, he was the initial choice to succeed Khomeini, but lost out to the current Supreme Leader. He sees in the protests an opportunity to settle the score with Khamenei. Montazeri has the incentive to challenge the election whether or not he is being manipulated by the CIA, which has a successful history of manipulating disgruntled politicians. ...

The protests in Tehran no doubt have many sincere participants. The protests also have the hallmarks of the CIA orchestrated protests in Georgia and Ukraine. It requires total blindness not to see this.

posted by Joe Beese at 2:56 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


More on CIA in Iran.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:29 PM on June 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's disgusting that Andrew Sullivan keeps trying to reinvent himself when his political party of choice has done...

So you must not read Sullivan's blog that often, or you'd know that he no longer considers himself a Republican, has in fact been profoudnly disillusioned and has thoroughly admitted how completely wrong he was about Bush et al, and is now quite a compelling voice in the public discourse (in my estimation, YMMV, obv.).

But that's beside the point--your ad hominem attack doesn't change the fact that his blog has been one of the few comprehensive, compelling sources of coverage of everything that's happening in Iran, that he was one of the first writers to recognize its significance, and he also has been out front on the meta-story of how social networking has enabled a revolution.

So no matter what you think of his politics, his blog has been particularly outstanding lately.
posted by LooseFilter at 3:31 PM on June 19, 2009 [19 favorites]


I frankly expected to hear a more savvy Supreme Leader than the doddering fool we heard from today, caught in a world that has already passed him by, without a clue of what to do next.

Interesting point by Cap'n Al, there --- they keep arresting dissident leaders/intellectuals and known radicals and it keeps not doing dick. They really don't seem to grasp that this not being led, really, that Mousavi is the bit of grit around which all this has accreted...The weekend will tell, perhaps. But there does seem to be a genuine reluctance to go balls to the wall. And hints that maybe they aren't because they can't, that they can't rely on the uniformed forces....But putting the tanks on the streets would give the lie to blatantly.
posted by Diablevert at 3:42 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


WAR NERD: IRAN’S CEDAR SHOW, A.K.A. DON’T GET EXCITED, THE PROTESTORS ARE JUST LETTING OFF SOME STEAM. (some nsfw ads)
posted by ryanrs at 3:43 PM on June 19, 2009


his blog has been particularly outstanding lately

I don't agree that reprinting text in green constitutes excellent journalism. That said, his newfound sense of right and wrong seems dishonest to me and its a shame to see his work promoted. If Obama gets voted out in 2012, look for Andy to "rediscover" his conservative roots.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:44 PM on June 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Foci for Analysis: "More on CIA in Iran ."

I recognize that I get hotheaded quickly. So I'm going to withhold judgment until I hear some opinions about what that video and Paul Craig Roberts are saying.

Which is, if I understand them correctly, that the "stolen election" is the culmination of a CIA operation whose fuse was lit by Bush two years ago.

And before I hear "tinfoil", I remind you that our having done this exact same thing just over 50 years ago is a matter of historical record.

So if there are common sense debunkings to be made of the idea, I welcome them humbly. I only ask that you acknowledge that it's a legitimate question.

If it's true, did Obama know it was coming? If he knew, did he want to stop it? If he wanted to stop it and wasn't able to... well, I guess the Agency showed the man from Chicago who's really running things in that town.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:57 PM on June 19, 2009


I don't agree that reprinting text in green constitutes excellent journalism. That said, his newfound sense of right and wrong seems dishonest to me and its a shame to see his work promoted. If Obama gets voted out in 2012, look for Andy to "rediscover" his conservative roots.

I think that criticism is unfair. You call his sense of right and wrong "newfound," he endorsed Kerry in 2004; that's five years ago, now. Michael Crowley of the New Republic was gently poking at him for being overly enthused about Iranian student demonstrations in 2003.

Passionate to the point of over excited and near-gullible is Sullivan's stock-in-trade. I don't always agree with the man. His Hillary hatred is damn near pathological, and though I am an Obama supporter, he sometimes seems to think our man O don't break surface tension. He's still against "socialized medicine" lots of regulations, etc. And I remember reading and recoiling from a big fat essay of his written in the Times magazine weeks after 9/11 in which he pretty much called opponents of the war of terror fifth columnists.

But the other side of his passion is that he wears his heart on his sleeve. He writes hasty, over-excited posts, and he writes them in damn near real time. Cold calculation is not a big strength with him. And so I think if you look at the body of his work before, during, and after the launch of the Iraq war, you can see his mind change, the doubts creep in, the realization that people have been lied too, and that he was a part of perpetuating all that. He admits as much today.

And of all the mainstream blogs, he's pretty much the only conservative voice that has been out there hammering on the torture issue for weeks, during both the Obama and Bush administrations.

As I said, I don't agree with everything the man has to say. But the reason I find him interesting to read is that he's one of the few bloggers out there I've seen really start of in one place and come to another, openly wrestling with the issues all the way. He used to be a neo-con; half the posts on his blog today have been pretty harsh critiques of them (with one post offering some caveats for that). He didn't get there in a day. It took him seven years. So I don't see his current position as at all disingenuous. Malleable, subject to revision, sure. But ingenuousnesses is the opposite of his type of sin.
posted by Diablevert at 4:03 PM on June 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "If Obama gets voted out in 2012, look for Andy to "rediscover" his conservative roots."

While agreeing with everything Diablevert said, I can't deny the aptness of this crack. Sully does have a psychological attraction to The Leader that made his early Obama coverage as worthlessly gushy as his early Bush coverage. It took the GayGate currently being played out to jar him awake.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:32 PM on June 19, 2009


As a counterpoint to Joe Beese's heart-tugging quote:

"By the way, two nights ago I went out to see a few things ... as the general crowds spread into their homes militia style Mousavi supporters were out on the streets 'Basiji hunting'.

Their resolve is no less than these thugs -- they after hunting them down. They use their phones, their childhood friends, their intimate knowledge of their districts and neighbours to plan their attacks -- they're organised and they're supported by their community so they have little fear. They create the havoc they're after, ambush the thugs, use their Cocktail Molotovs, disperse and re-assemble elsewhere and then start again - and the door of every house is open to them as safe harbour -- they're community-connected."
posted by Houstonian at 4:37 PM on June 19, 2009


Houstonian: "Their resolve is no less than these thugs -- they after hunting them down. They use their phones, their childhood friends, their intimate knowledge of their districts and neighbours to plan their attacks -- they're organised and they're supported by their community so they have little fear. They create the havoc they're after, ambush the thugs, use their Cocktail Molotovs, disperse and re-assemble elsewhere and then start again - and the door of every house is open to them as safe harbour -- they're community-connected.""

While reading this, I realize that I hold my manhood cheap.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:44 PM on June 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sullivan is doing a decent job aggregating Iran linkage for the past week. In terms of original reporting and opinion, there are much better places to go. Just follow his links! He has also changed the color of his blog to green in a display of self-serving nitwittery.

I have mixed feelings about him, as usual. Glad people can go to his site and learn more about Iran, a country many Americans feel as if we should invade but have no fucking clue that we fucked over in '53. But ya know, also turned off by his constant self-serving attitude and willingness to take anybody's suffering and get some mileage out of it.

I mean really -- the gay conservative Catholic posturing is well past its expiration date. Andrew, Republicans and Christians hate you because you suck cock. Please stop clutching your pearls every time you "realize" this.
posted by bardic at 4:48 PM on June 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Paul Craig Roberts is a 9-11 conspiracy theorist and all around nut job. He's a dangerous crank spreading bullcrap that only provides fodder for the dictatorship's propaganda.
posted by humanfont at 4:56 PM on June 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think Andrew Sullivan has always been among the most interesting voices in the blogosphere, even when he was a complete pro-war fuckwit in 2002 and 2003. He's passionate and articulate and he wears his heart on his sleeve. He strikes me as a genuinely good person who has an unfortunate tendency to demonize his political opponents and glorify his allies, but I don't think it's insincere. I love that he changes his mind, and he's open about it and that he thinks out loud.

Nobody is perfect, and people who don't grow and change with the times might as well be dead.
posted by empath at 4:56 PM on June 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


You see "growth and change," I see "predictable reactionary behavior to things everyone else saw coming."

But I check out his blog every other day, so go figure.
posted by bardic at 5:01 PM on June 19, 2009



Paul Craig Roberts is a 9-11 conspiracy theorist
1 & 2.
posted by K.P. at 5:07 PM on June 19, 2009


I'm also a "9/11 conspiracy theorist". Time to go read Paul Craig Roberts...
posted by telstar at 5:12 PM on June 19, 2009


...hmmm. Interesting theory concerning the CIA. Wouldn't be the first time.
posted by telstar at 5:38 PM on June 19, 2009


Tiananmen's bloody lessons for Tehran
posted by homunculus at 5:43 PM on June 19, 2009


humanfont: "Paul Craig Roberts is a 9-11 conspiracy theorist and all around nut job."

This isn't as persuasive an argument as I had hoped for.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:56 PM on June 19, 2009


Even though he's infuriatingly soft on... things I feel he shouldn't be soft on, there's still no political journalist I respect more than Al Giordano

Not to give the appearance of e-stalking, Joe, but despite our apparent differences w/r/t the governing approach of the American President, I'm totally with you on this. I know Al was the subject of a MeFi snarkfest a couple weeks back, but I really appreciated his commentary during the '08 election and I happen to suspect (despite his avowed lack of personal knowledge re: the situation in Iran per se) that his first-hand experience covering South and Central American political movements is informing his analysis of the Iranian thang in a good (i.e., helpful, informative, thought-provoking) way. If any of you dismissed this guy (Al G.) based on the one link posted to MeFi a little bit ago, I'd recommend at least checking him out over at Narco News. Even when I disagree, he gives me some good mental grist.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:00 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, if Chris Floyd isn't convinced this is an Agency ratfuck, I'm just going to watch and wait.

The trope of a singular American hand guiding a million-headed puppet in the streets of Iran seems a bit odd anyway. There is of course little doubt that the imperial security apparat will try to make hay from the turmoil; but the American militarists have already made it clear that they prefer a victory for the incumbent Ahmadinejad; after all, without a readily demonizable figure as the public face of Iran, their unquenchable lust for conquering Persia becomes that much harder to consummate. ...

And as we noted here last month, the American security apparat seemed to be intervening on Ahmadinejad's behalf, with a stepped-up terrorist campaign by the militant Sunni extremist group, Jundullah -- just one of the terrorist organizations inside Iran now on the American payroll...

... no one knows how the current turmoil will turn out -- or how the various power-players, including the many elite factions inside Iran and the many vultures circling outside, will attempt to mold the chaotic reality to their own advantage. But it seems to me that the circumstances in Iran cannot be forced into any simplistic template. For while it is true that the American imperium does indeed seek to exert its influence everywhere and always, it does not and cannot engender and control every event on earth. We risk partaking of the courtiers' own hubris -- and their mythology of American exceptionalism -- if we make that automatic assumption.

posted by Joe Beese at 6:32 PM on June 19, 2009


al Jazeera has had some interesting coverage on the internal politics that are, possibly, fueling this.
posted by kanewai at 7:17 PM on June 19, 2009


I'm with those who are torn; I don't like or trust Sullivan, there's "heart on his sleeve" and there's "willing to be led around by the nose." He's a grownup, he should act like one.

But...I have not been seeing any other real time reporting on Iran like he's doing. If you know of a better/non-Sullivan source, will you link it? Yes I can go to #iranelection but I'd a little trustworthy perspective also.
posted by emjaybee at 7:41 PM on June 19, 2009


Large numbers of Basij and IRG troopers have been stationed within the city. There have been reports of attacks on the Basijis by armed Iranians. Sources claim that Basijis are being arrested by these men who seem to have some level of support by the police. Although confirmed by several sources that the young men are getting organized and call themselves the National Iranian Resistance, this Brief will not go so far as to confirm it entirely. ...

Reformist activists are still being arrested in large numbers. The number of people being arrested now stands upwards of 5,000. Sources indicate that some key reformists have been tortured and are being forced to sign confessions stating they were guilty of inciting violence.

Twitter sources that have been able to tweet have told us that they will be most definitely joining the protest tomorrow even though it is very possible that they might be injured or killed. Some have even indicated that they are fully prepared to die as they are simply too tired of living under a repressive regime with little to no rights that they desire.

posted by Joe Beese at 7:54 PM on June 19, 2009


If you know of a better/non-Sullivan source, will you link it? Yes I can go to #iranelection but I'd a little trustworthy perspective also.

Sure. The New York Times' Lede blog is doing similar frequent updates, although they knock off hours before Sullivan does, and the Huffington Post has a guy, Nico Pitney, who's been all over this as well.

Both of those load kinda slow for me --- there's some script on the Times page that flummoxes my old-ass version of Firefox. But I have an old-ass computer.

Also, I believe it was linked in the other thread but you may want to check out The Big Picture, which is pretty much always awesome and has had three well-curated collections of photos on the aftermath of the Iran elections this week.
posted by Diablevert at 8:35 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mir-Hossein Mousavi's Iran/Contra Connection?
posted by hortense at 8:47 PM on June 19, 2009


Where is this place? Where is this place that every path is closed? ... Where is this place that every night "Allaho Akbar" gets louder and louder?... I am shivering. I don't know if God shivers too or not. ... Where is this place that no one helps us?... This is Iran. This is my and your country.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:52 PM on June 19, 2009


I don't know how the situation will turn out, but I've felt incredibly moved and inspired by the Iranian protests. These people have made it a week standing up to their government and displaying courage most of us have never known

Beyond that, I think this is an instructive example of the way improvements in communication can help citizens organize against powerful groups that have traditionally had enormous advantages. The ability to quickly process, disseminate, and act on new information is crucial to any group, and it's something that has until recently been difficult and unnatural to build among the average citizenry

Whether the Iranians are now able to wrest some sort of victory from the situation depends mostly on their will against that of their current leaders and security forces. But it was largely the technological progress of the past decade that made this uprising possible, and I suspect the near future will bring many more dramatic power shifts - whether peaceful or not - to many other nations as ordinary citizens are able to witness and encourage the spread of ideas through vast social networks
posted by crayz at 8:57 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, in China:
Mainland censors yesterday ordered state media and internet sites to play down news about post-election protests in Iran and government crackdowns there, amid concerns the situation in Tehran may inspire protests and cause instability in a sensitive year.

There are also fears that Iranian protesters' use of technology to circumvent government media controls may encourage mainlanders to follow suit.

Propaganda authorities issued an emergency notice last night urging newspapers and websites to reduce coverage on Iranian affairs and play down images of clashes between the protesters and government forces.

"[The notice] bans editors and columnists from criticising or commenting on the Iranian government's latest measures to control the disorder," a Guangzhou-based international news editor, who declined to be named, told the South China Morning Post
posted by homunculus at 9:56 PM on June 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


...the fundamental conflict in Iran is being fought not on the streets of Tehran – a mere tragic, brutal sideshow that could soon become a bloodbath – but beneath the cupolas and minarets and pale blue tiles of the mosques of Qom by Robert Fisk one of the few western journalists in Tehran who is on the streets describes where fantasy and reality make uneasy bedfellows. This is reporting. "Chapeaux" Fisk.
posted by adamvasco at 11:45 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beyond that, I think this is an instructive example of the way improvements in communication can help citizens organize against powerful groups that have traditionally had enormous advantages. The ability to quickly process, disseminate, and act on new information is crucial to any group, and it's something that has until recently been difficult and unnatural to build among the average citizenry

That may or may not be true for what has happened in Iran this week. The lesson, perhaps, is that people who are desperate to have their voices heard and represented by a legitimate voice will use whatever tools are at their disposal. Twitter is not the lesson. Twitter should not be the lesson.

If the technology really was the lesson here, that would be sad. I was here when a lot of Mefites and most of the "blogosphere" completely lost its shit over what they thought was Amazon discriminating against GLBT writers and readers, by simple virtue of the echo chamber that was Twitter that weekend. People repeated complete and total untruths as fact to each other, amplifying falsehoods in an orgiastic feedback loop.

We seem to have a print media gingerly and clumsily transitioning to the Internet and a few hopeful pundits (including NYT, CNN and Andy's employers) jumping on that cash cow that is the Twitter Train, all while completely ignoring the 40 ft neon lesson that was the #amazonfail disaster. A lot of otherwise rational people have put aside their critical faculties and are buying en masse into the romantic notion that the technology represented the opposition's views in a nearly wholly reliable manner — or, at least, the press is selling this view as fact, like hot cakes.

However the mob of consumers treat the matter, reprinting textual snippets from the Internets in a different color is not journalism of any reliable kind. In fact, it's probably the easiest, laziest kind of reporting — the kind of slimy, armchair copypasta that people on this site used to rail against back in the Bush days of Guckert/Gannon.

Paul Craig Roberts is a 9-11 conspiracy theorist and all around nut job.

True or false, this individual would be ripe for a similar #pcr911fail campaign, useful to any parties which would be interested in casting doubt on the details of any involvement of the CIA in present-day Iranian politics. A mob is fickle that way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:19 AM on June 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Re: Sullivan

I essentially agree with LooseFilter and Diablevert. I disagree with a lot of what Sullivan says and sometimes the way he says it, but one of the main reasons I've been an avid rss follower of his gargantuan output over the last year or so is because it's a "safe" way to keep tabs on the intellectual right. He links and quotes a lot of different voices and I like to hear points of view that come from different outlooks than my own (something not reallllly possible on Mefi). It makes me test my own beliefs and sometimes change my way of thinking. I'm not quite as avid in following the Iran stuff of late - at Sullivan or anywhere else - just because I have a hard time believing a lot of it. That's just the way it is at present of course where we are prevented from getting a proper perspective.
posted by peacay at 12:57 AM on June 20, 2009


Andrew Sullivan makes me wonder what the hell someone has to do to lose credibility in this country short of being a complete and total nutjob. Oops, sorry, I trumpeted a war with no purpose, but things are okay now that I've admitted my mistake, right? He has some positive aspects, but seriously how big of a fuck-up do you have to make in order to not be taken seriously in this country as a journalist and commentator? I mean, jesus.
posted by milarepa at 3:42 AM on June 20, 2009


Thanks for that link adamvasco.

"We have, in fact, reported all the censorship – of local newspapers as well as communications. The footage of a brutal police force assaulting the political opposition on the streets of the capital has shocked the world. Rightly so, although no one has made comparison with police forces who batter demonstrators on the streets of Western Europe, who beat women with night-sticks, who have kicked over an innocent middle-aged man who immediately suffered a fatal heart attack, who have shot down an innocent passenger on the London Tube... There are special codes of morality to be applied to Middle East countries which definitely must not apply to us "

This certainly rings true. Also his suspicion that Ahmedinajad indeed really won, despite what all western news outlets report:

"But our coverage of this poll has been deeply flawed. Most visiting Western journalists stay in hotels in the wealthy, north Tehran suburbs, where tens of thousands of Mousavi supporters live, where it's easy to find educated translators who love Mousavi, where interviewees speak fluent English and readily denounce the spiritual and cultural and social stagnation of Iran's – let us speak frankly – semi-dictatorship.

But few news organisations have the facilities or the time or the money to travel around this 659,278 square-mile country – seven times the size of Britain – and interview even the tiniest fraction of its 71 million people. When I visited the slums of south Tehran on Friday, for example, I found that the number of Ahmadinejad supporters grew as Mousavi's support dribbled away. And I wondered whether, across the huge cities and vast deserts of Iran, a similar phenomenon might be discovered. A Channel 4 television crew, to its great credit, went down to Isfahan and the villages around that beautiful city and came back with a suspicion – unprovable, of course, anecdotal, but real – that Ahmadinejad just might have won the election.
"
posted by kolophon at 4:20 AM on June 20, 2009


Andrew Sullivan makes me wonder what the hell someone has to do to lose credibility in this country short of being a complete and total nutjob. Oops, sorry, I trumpeted a war with no purpose, but things are okay now that I've admitted my mistake, right? He has some positive aspects, but seriously how big of a fuck-up do you have to make in order to not be taken seriously in this country as a journalist and commentator? I mean, jesus.

You are aware of the existence of William Kristol, right? Or Robert Kagan? Or Charles Krauthammer?
posted by Diablevert at 4:46 AM on June 20, 2009


You are aware of the existence of William Kristol, right? Or Robert Kagan? Or Charles Krauthammer?

I said short of being a complete and total nutjob. I stand by that.
posted by milarepa at 4:59 AM on June 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


The CIA may very well be involved - really, who knows either way, except for those who aren't telling and won't tell for years to come? But to suggest that unrest in Iran is simply a Western concoction is factually stupid. Idiotic. Unreasonable. Look to 1999 and 2003. The plain fact is - big shocker here - people don't like living in a repressive brutal theocracy. Whoda thunk it?
posted by billysumday at 6:15 AM on June 20, 2009


Latest reports indicate that the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini was just attacked and that two people were hurt in some sort of "blast." This is the precisely the type of act needed by Khamenei and the government to turn support away from the protesters and implement a complete and total crackdown on all opposition leaders and supporters. I'm afraid this might mean the struggle is winding down.
posted by billysumday at 6:21 AM on June 20, 2009


The latest reports show that the fight is on. This is the day that will make or break the rebellion. Will the police be able to turn back the crowds? The numbers are reported as being lower than previous days. When this started it was about the election but the energy has risen to the point that the rebellion is about dethroning the dictator. It was probably right for Obama to be somewhat reserved until now. However, if authorities fail to squash the rebellion today then it is probably time for Obama and the world to turn up the heat.
posted by caddis at 6:40 AM on June 20, 2009


"I'm afraid this might mean the struggle is winding down."

I'm sure some martyrs will be created today and keep it hot, unfortunately.
posted by jaduncan at 6:42 AM on June 20, 2009


Bear in mind that the only source for the reports of an explosion at Khomeini's tomb is the state-run media. I'd take it with a grain of salt until we get confirmation from an independent source.
posted by EarBucket at 6:42 AM on June 20, 2009


caddis: It's so hard to tell. But on first blush I disagree. What possibly could Obama do? Especially now? In hindsight, perhaps Mousavi did not strike while the iron was hot. He could have called a nationwide protest on Thursday, held a rally, and given explicit instructions/demands as to what do in the case of this kind of scenario. Called for a nationwide strike of industry and manufacturing. Civil disobedience. Sit-ins, etc. As it is, the movement right now is a bit rudderless/leaderless. And then Mousavi waited too long, he waited for Khamenei to speak, and when he did, he really laid down the law. And so then the game changed. Mousavi had his megaphone, now it's been taken away. He mis-timed it.

Of course, that's just speculation. I don't know Iranian culture, and there is much talk of the 40-day cycles of mourning, so perhaps this is just the first spark that will eventually turn into a slow burn against Khamenei and the regime. But with the explosion at Khomeini's mausoleum, I fear that this is the end of this latest burst of opposition. Much depends on what Mousavi, Karroubi, Rafsanjani and Khatami do in the next few days. It seems that they may be inclined to stand down.
posted by billysumday at 6:51 AM on June 20, 2009


The US has a long history of "turning up the heat" on Iran. Clearly, it's not helped and arguably it's hurt. And what's Obama to do, exactly? Come out in favor of Mousavi? Threaten to bomb them? Refuse to do any trade with them?

This is their fight, not ours. We need to let them fight it out amongst themselves.
posted by Houstonian at 7:00 AM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


From Enghelab Square up to Azadi Square tow helicopters are pouring down boiling water over poeples head #iranElection
posted by billysumday at 7:58 AM on June 20, 2009


I'm curious about the reports we're seeing from Twitter.

For example, they show pictures of the police, standing in a line.
But they don't show photos of Mousavi supporters lighting buildings on fire.

And then there are videos like this one. News sources say that's a motorcycle that's on fire, and that the Basij are the ones on motorcycles. So, we might assume that it's Mousavi supporters who lit it on fire. The man shooting into the crowd from the balcony -- which side is he on?

I know it's not news, and not even purported to be even-handed, but it becomes difficult to remember that as we see these reports.
posted by Houstonian at 8:25 AM on June 20, 2009


NOW / mousavi among people: I am ready for death #iranelection
posted by billysumday at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2009


Mousavi - Confirmed - I have prepared for martyrdom - #Iranelection

Okay, then. The wily mofo plays the Imam Hossein card. We have heard so much that he was not that dissimilar to Ahmadinejad, that he was just an old hardliner, that he didn't really have any skin in the game. This seems to put the lie to that - either he truly was reformed, or there is something incredibly strange going on behind the scenes. If these reports are true, I don't see how he's long for this world.
posted by billysumday at 8:42 AM on June 20, 2009


For all its obvious, well-commented-upon flaws as a news source, #iranelection has been indispensable. If I say anything obnoxious about Twitter in the future, it will have to be asterisked.

dipping in to the chaos just now...

RT from Iran: hospital source - Tehran hospitals report hundreds of casualtys [sic]

Somberly, I remember Lawrence of Arabia:

[Lawrence and Ali watch as British cannons fire in the distance]
Sherif Ali: God help the men that lie under that.
T.E. Lawrence: They are Turks.
Sherif Ali: God help them.

posted by Joe Beese at 9:10 AM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Juan Cole: "Aljazeera is reporting that a suicide bomber blew himself up near the shrine of Imam Khomeini. Hard to interpret, since I don't take the reformist camp for seedy terrorist types. My guess, if its true, is Mojahedin-e Khalq or MEK or something very like it (which, if true, would be bad publicity for the reformers, since MEK is universally hated in Iran.)"
posted by homunculus at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2009


Mousavi: "I am prepared for martyrdom, go on strike if I am arrested"
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:00 AM on June 20, 2009


This seems like another Katrina moment for the Internet, but with faster updates.
posted by acro at 10:22 AM on June 20, 2009


As a self-centered American, can I say that I'm now fearing the possibility that all of these forced confessions by the state, in which protesters announce on state TV that they were "trained" by America and Israel will in some way spiral into Iran's military actually carrying out a strike on an American base in Iraq or elsewhere in the region? That is, Iran accuses of America (by way of these protesters) of deliberate interference and provocation, therefore they must defend themselves, therefore the strike America, even Israel, therefore all of Iran now must unite to attack the evil infidels, the Zionists, so put away your rocks you young college students and defend your country from the Great Satan.
posted by billysumday at 10:37 AM on June 20, 2009


Not sure they could spare the forces now, billysumday.

And also http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=89928823259 [very NSFW]

Those fuckers. Those absolute fuckers.
posted by jaduncan at 11:01 AM on June 20, 2009


.
posted by jaduncan at 11:02 AM on June 20, 2009


You're getting ahead of yourself! There haven't been forced confessions by the State yet, have there?

I don't think Iran will bomb our bases. It works to their end be united in a common enemy, and truthfully they have reasons to be suspicious of US meddling in their affairs. But for all the talk, I don't think they honestly consider bombing us. If they were going to do it, they would have done it when Bush was calling Iran an Axis of Evil, and there were reports that we would bomb them.

And of course, we have no embassy there, so they can no longer do anything like that again.

However, if you'd like to see how pervasive the paranoia is, watch this video. It's from the Middle East Media Research Institute. It was a government-sponsored program shown on Iranian TV, produced by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry in February of last year.

Notice that the focus is on US attempts to change their culture. It starts with an animation of secret talks at the White House, then moves to a dialogue of people in the park, and then has an almost soap-opera story of a woman who discovers her husband is involved in passing secrets or something... and she reports him to the authorities.
posted by Houstonian at 11:13 AM on June 20, 2009


In some places, the protesters pushed back, rushing the militia in teams of hundreds, pitching at least three basijis from their motorcycles and setting the vehicles on fire. The protesters included many women, who even berated as “cowards” men who fled the basijis.

Formidable women, these.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:13 AM on June 20, 2009


“I welcome death
I welcome death
But not subjugation
But not subjugation”


translation from here.
posted by empath at 11:16 AM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Houstonian: I got that info from this site, which posted this update:

1:28 pm: More news from iranbaan:

Channel 2 of Iran State TV is showing some “confessions” of students who have been arrested. One of the arrested students has said on state TV that he had been in contact with an MEK [Mujahadin-e Khalq] member in England, who ordered them to start unrest.

posted by billysumday at 11:31 AM on June 20, 2009


jaduncan: " http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=89928823259 [very NSFW]"

.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:33 AM on June 20, 2009


Joe Beese, is the video on Facebook a child being killed?

billysumday, I'd not seen that yet. But, the US is not friendly toward the MEK. But, if they are mostly in Iraq now, and that's where we are, I guess it could happen. My guess though, is that they will have a very public -- and in some manner, religious although I'm not sure how that will work -- execution of Mousavi. Then, round people up and execute them like they did in 1988.
posted by Houstonian at 11:58 AM on June 20, 2009


Houstonian: "Joe Beese, is the video on Facebook a child being killed? "

A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim's chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes.

posted by Joe Beese at 12:00 PM on June 20, 2009


YouTube version for those who don't use Facebook.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:17 PM on June 20, 2009


Revolutionary Road has an agenda but regularly updates.
Shouts of Death to khamene'i & Death to Dictator in holy city of Mashhad, Tehran,Isfahan, Ahwaz, Kermanshah, Shiraz ... "explosive" -- loudest it has ever been also:
Canadians, call your foreign office. It's confirmed Canadian Embassy rejects injured protesters
Hospitals are unsafe, Australian Embassy accepting injured.
posted by adamvasco at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mashable has put up a collection of 10 YouTube videos from the past week in Iran, including Poem for the Rooftops of Iran and the video of the young woman from earlier this morning.
posted by elfgirl at 1:01 PM on June 20, 2009


What does it "mean" when an embassy takes in protesters? Do they protect them if the embassy comes under fire? Transport them out of the country? Give them some kind of citizenship or status to live in the embassy's country? What happens?
posted by Houstonian at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2009


My understanding is that being an embassy, the Iranian authorities (and by extension the basij) cannot (normally) just rush in and take the injured or do whatever they want as they have been reported to do with those in the hospital.

No citizenship or promise of safe passage outside of the country, just guests to the embassy that the Iranian authorities can't touch unless they want to raise ires reminiscent of '79.
posted by tksh at 1:32 PM on June 20, 2009


Obama finally speaks:
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness
posted by caddis at 1:44 PM on June 20, 2009


A question of my own: can other countries do anything in a situation like this? Or are they fated to simply watch from the sidelines?

Knowing about the British and the American's influence on Iranian history in the last century explains why they are effectively held back for being who they are. And the up-and-coming China has had always a strong insistence on not commenting on the internals of other states (not to mention their own worries about proto-revolutionaries). But what about other somewhat-influential countries? Indonesia, Turkey on? Germany, France?

And what if there was a superpower that has had little much to do Iran historically. Would they have any soft-power on today's situation?
posted by tksh at 1:46 PM on June 20, 2009


According to one tweet, the embassies that are accepting injured protesters are "Australia, UK, Ger, Fin, Netherlands, Nor, Italy, Slovenia, Port, Bel"... not sure, but maybe that's Belgium? Belarus??

Any ideas why Canada would not?
posted by Houstonian at 1:49 PM on June 20, 2009


"There are rumors that foreign embassies are making preparations to leave Tehran. This among reports that foreign journalists are being evicted from Tehran. This would leave no outside witnesses to ongoing unrest in the capital.

"Reports indicate that hotels in Tehran are under tight security in order to prevent Iranians from contacting foreign media.

"Most roads out of Tehran are reportedly blocked.

"Reports are that anyone with a camera or laptop are attacked and beaten in the street."

Full list of embassies accepting injured is here, but I wonder what happens if they leave?
posted by Houstonian at 1:54 PM on June 20, 2009


A useful link - for me, anyway - has been this Persian classical music performance.

As we witness the courage of Iran's people, a reminder of the greatness of their culture.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:03 PM on June 20, 2009


tksh, you might also ask about Russia.

I think to stop the fighting (so, quick actions) the only options are to do nothing but watch, to make public statements of condemnation to let them know that there will be trouble in the future (sanctions and such), to try to broker peace (but that requires actually entering the country and having two sides at least willing to talk), or to come in with a military action.

So, most of the world is doing either the first or the second thing. The third option is impossible. The fourth requires a country to be convinced that one side is in the right (the elections were faked, the violence has been one-sided or provoked), and that they can win, with only a reasonable loss of troops, and that they can shoulder the condemnation or breakdown of relationships with other countries who don't like their involvement. That might mean most Muslim countries, maybe China, maybe a handful of countries in S. America.
posted by Houstonian at 2:05 PM on June 20, 2009


tksh, I thought of one more option: Assassination.
posted by Houstonian at 2:07 PM on June 20, 2009


I also know that Iran’s women stand in the vanguard. For days now, I’ve seen them urging less courageous men on. I’ve seen them get beaten and return to the fray. “Why are you sitting there?” one shouted at a couple of men perched on the sidewalk on Saturday. “Get up! Get up!”

Another green-eyed woman, Mahin, aged 52, staggered into an alley clutching her face and in tears. Then, against the urging of those around her, she limped back into the crowd moving west toward Freedom Square. Cries of “Death to the dictator!” and “We want liberty!” accompanied her.

posted by Joe Beese at 2:14 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Trying to watch today's coverage on CNN has decided me. I'm never watching them again. Everyone on the internet has seen footage of that woman dying and CNN says there "may have been fatalities." Aiming the camera at the computer screen while you pull up youtube to show the same video over and over is not what I want to see on TV. If it weren't so sad, it'd be hilarious.
posted by threeturtles at 2:17 PM on June 20, 2009


The options aren't much then. The fourth option is impossible: foreign military action in a disputed vote is effective a coup by outside powers and create even more tension in the middle-east That only leaves us with watching and condemning or skulls and daggers.

The Russians are held back as well: they invaded Iran with the British during WWII.
posted by tksh at 2:21 PM on June 20, 2009


can other countries do anything in a situation like this?

Well, you can say nasty things about them: Formally, e.g. a UN Resolution condemning the action. The US Congress, the EU, the Arab League, other institutions could also do such a thing.

You can defriend them: Boot their diplomats out of your country. Disinvite from international gatherings/conferences.

You can boycott them: Refuse to trade with them by enacting and enforcing sanctions.

And you can hit them: Military action of some kind, e.g. bombings or a ground invasion.

That's pretty much it. The US, on its own undertaking, has already defriended and is boycotting. The Iranians had to haul in the poor Swiss ambassador to get yelled at on our behalf, and we have sanctions against them.

Hitting, or military action: Well, what would we bomb....that would help the protesters? Yeah, yeah, their nuclear installations, right. It would definitely serve our interests if Iran did not have nuclear weapons, but regardless of how effectively we could destroy their facilities, vis-a-vis the protesters it's not clear to me at least how that'd help. Besides, bombing a nation is usually taken as a de facto declaration of war; if we attempted some kind of targeted bombing of the Iranian political leadership they could easily strike back against our own forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. And then we'd be in war No. 3, which we don't really have the peeps to handle right now. I don't think there's the least bit of enthusiasm for getting up an international force to invade. Iran is too big and well-developed a country for that.

So...maybe broader sanctions? Maybe. The Iranian's No. 1 export is oil, which is the essence of fungible and desirable...could one convince another dictatorial regime which does not share the West's reverence for human rights---e.g. Russia and China---to stop trading with Iran in order to present a unified front of pissed-offedness? Tough call. Perhaps.
posted by Diablevert at 2:31 PM on June 20, 2009


I wish that after Friday's speech, they had remained completely silent and gone underground to plan, organize, discuss, gather equipment better than rocks. As it is now, they have to fight to the end: If they get down on their knees now, they'll never be able to get up.

I notice that we've not heard one word from the Khamenei or Ahmadinejad. They must know that whether they win or lose, they've lost all power and authority in that country.
posted by Houstonian at 2:33 PM on June 20, 2009


Mark Levine, author of the excellent Heavy Metal Islam, is relaying messages from Iranian metal and hip hop artists.
posted by NoMich at 2:44 PM on June 20, 2009


A tweet: "Canadian embassy is looking for doctors so that they can accept wounded"
posted by Houstonian at 3:36 PM on June 20, 2009


The video -- two videos, actually, from two different cameras -- of the teenage girl being shot by the Basij and bleeding to death on the Tehran pavement is being downloaded and re-uploaded everywhere. Do a search at YouTube or other video sites on the word "iran" and sort by date uploaded. Her face, staring at the camera as she dies, will be everywhere tomorrow.

...except CNN, apparently. Fuckers don't want to seem too "partisan".

/ listening to old civil rights songs all day today as I consume the coverage from Iran. "Which Side Are You On?" seems so appropriate...
posted by Asparagirl at 3:47 PM on June 20, 2009


"And then Mousavi waited too long, he waited for Khamenei to speak, and when he did, he really laid down the law. And so then the game changed. Mousavi had his megaphone, now it's been taken away. He mis-timed it."

As far as I understand, that was the desired outcome. They had these permitted protests for a solid week, then a day of mourning, which is more intense. And Khamenei spoke so they canceled that day's protest. But the next protest they didn't get a permit, and the violence was expected. It's tragic, but this is not really accidental, because it's meant to draw people to the cause, to provoke the government to crack down so that the revolution really ignites. The people in power have been around for a while, but so have the revolutionaries, and this is the same pattern that played out in 1979.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:56 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


"...except CNN, apparently. Fuckers don't want to seem too 'partisan'."

CNN showed it over and over on their cable channel with the face pixelated.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:58 PM on June 20, 2009


Thus showing gore but no humanity. Her face is the important thing.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Her name was Neda.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:18 PM on June 20, 2009


Iran is not falling ... It is standing up .....
posted by Joe Beese at 4:29 PM on June 20, 2009


Persuasive:

... it's conspicuous how fundamentally reformist a statement Moussavi has issued. His message is one of reaffirming the promise of the 1979 Iranian Revolution -- "a revolution for freedom, a revolution for reviving the dignity of men, a revolution for truth and justice." The era of Khomeini was one of enlightenment and joint spiritual and material fulfillment. Moussavi's career has been dedicated to proving "it was possible to live spiritually while living in a modern world." And although the new Iranian generation stands "accused of being removed from religion," its iconography and sloganeering -- the Sea of (Islamic) Green, the chants of God is greater than the enemy -- proves that it's possible to rekindle the spirit of the Islamic Revolution. That's what they fight and suffer and die for.

Clearly we're in the realm of myth, and foundational myth at that. It matters very little what westerners think about Moussavi's description of Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution. By locating the opposition within the promises of the Revolution, Moussavi claims a clear source of legitimacy, the same that the regime claims, and seeks to denies that legitimacy to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. His rhetoric is designed to convince patriotic Iranians to join the opposition -- and to reassure the millions of Ahmadinejad supports that the opposition does not seek to fundamentally do away with their way of life.


Not stated - but I think an unavoidable conclusion - Moussavi is putting the Supreme Leader's back against the wall. He's saying, in effect: Only my becoming president will allow you to justify your continued existence to the people currently calling for your death*.

* or so it has been widely tweeted, at any rate

That's the confidence of a man with his own army and/or nothing to lose.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:01 PM on June 20, 2009


Another option is to have your intelligence assets on the ground help the opposition with communications and feed them any information you have that they might not. I expect we're doing some variation on this, too.
posted by vibrotronica at 5:07 PM on June 20, 2009


Assembly of Experts Supports Khamenei
posted by homunculus at 5:28 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I expect we're doing some variation on this, too.

I have no doubt that the CIA is keeping a close eye on what's going on through already established channels of intel. I also have no doubt that, at this point, they're sitting back and letting it ride. This is an internal political struggle (no, I don't think it's CIA/MI5 orchestrated) and it's in any Western intelligence operations best interest to let it play out with as little direct interference or assistance as possible--for a lot of the same reasons people said that the US and British governments shouldn't come out supporting Moussavi.

The historical opacity of intel operations isn't a sure thing anymore, especially in the West. If anything, I'd expect this administration's CIA to be overly cautious when it comes to being perceived as putting their fingers in matters which are not theirs to manipulate. I'd think they'd be more likely to take a 'wait and see' approach, and then work with what they have once the internal struggle has run its course.
posted by elfgirl at 5:36 PM on June 20, 2009


Trying to watch today's coverage on CNN has decided me. I'm never watching them again. Everyone on the internet has seen footage of that woman dying and CNN says there "may have been fatalities." Aiming the camera at the computer screen while you pull up youtube to show the same video over and over is not what I want to see on TV. If it weren't so sad, it'd be hilarious.
posted by threeturtles at 5:17 PM on June 20 [+] [!]


You do understand that a tenet of responsible journalism is to find a second source to verify every story. You have guys like Drudge who revel in breaking stories by violating that tenet, and of course often they are correct, but not always. It's not hilarious, it's journalism. That video does not rise to the journalism standards of showing fatalities. The way to use it is to show it and explain that it remains unverified.
posted by caddis at 5:37 PM on June 20, 2009


Christiane Amanpour is hosting Larry King's show on CNN.
posted by homunculus at 6:08 PM on June 20, 2009


From Huffington Post's Nico Pitney:

8:53 PM ET -- "Sister, have a short sleep, your last dream be sweet." Yesterday we printed a touching letter from an Iranian woman that began with these ominous lines: "I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed..."

Tonight, she posted a second letter, passed along and translated by two readers. She writes about her "sister" in this cause who was killed today, referring to "Neda."


Yesterday I wrote a note, with the subject line "tomorrow is a great day perhaps tomorrow I'll be killed." I'm here to let you know I'm alive but my sister was killed...


I'm here to tell you my sister died while in her father's hands
I'm here to tell you my sister had big dreams...
I'm here to tell you my sister who died was a decent person... and like me yearned for a day when her hair would be swept by the wind... and like me read "Forough" [Forough Farrokhzad]... and longed to live free and equal... and she longed to hold her head up and announce, "I'm Iranian"... and she longed to one day fall in love to a man with a shaggy hair... and she longed for a daughter to braid her hair and sing lullaby by her crib...

my sister died from not having life... my sister died as injustice has no end... my sister died since she loved life too much... and my sister died since she lovingly cared for people...

my loving sister, I wish you had closed your eyes when your time had come... the very end of your last glance burns my soul....

sister have a short sleep. your last dream be sweet.

posted by heyho at 6:32 PM on June 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Neda" is the #3 trending topic on Twitter right now.
posted by Asparagirl at 7:00 PM on June 20, 2009


This background image of this twitter feed is a very real looking flame in the shape of the map of Iran.
posted by telstar at 7:15 PM on June 20, 2009


homunculus: "Assembly of Experts Supports Khamenei"

... the letter of support written by assembly of experts in support of Khamenei's sermon is only signed by the deputy leader of the assembly , who is a former head of the judiciary and a staunch supporter of ahmadinejad, as well as a rival of Rafsanjani for the assembly's leadership election. He is the only one signing the letter and the government sponsored news media are reporting it as a letter from the full assembly.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:02 PM on June 20, 2009


Ah, that's an important detail. Thanks, Joe.
posted by homunculus at 8:34 PM on June 20, 2009


Marked for Death by Twitter: Social-networking sites are being celebrated as conduits for information out of Iran. But with the supreme leader vowing to punish dissidents, these digital footprints could prove deadly.
posted by homunculus at 8:37 PM on June 20, 2009


Basij HQ blown up?
posted by empath at 10:09 PM on June 20, 2009


I was just coming here to post the HQ video - I'm a little dubious as to whether the poster really means headquarters or just a station/barracks. I suspect the latter?

Radio Free Europe wrote in December "The backbone of the Basij comprises 2,500 Al-Zahra (for women) and Ashura battalions, numbering 300–350 personnel each." That's 750k-875k, so it seems like their actual HQ would have more than just a few people inside... but they look like substantial buildings, too.

It's the right time though - looks like dawn, and it's 9:49am in Tehran right now, so it would have been a few hours ago. We should hopefully get some reports soon, I hope, as things get evaluated in daylight.
posted by Super Hans at 10:20 PM on June 20, 2009


Clay Shirky pointed to this guys tweets he seems to be real mad about people not verifying their videos for his viewing pleasure.

His What revolution? article makes some good points about the ubiquitousness of the Twitter hype in news articles, though. I think it's also 2 am so I may regret this comment in the morning.

This is indeed a “revolution”…but it’s for Twitter, this entity whose very existence resembles the classic story of the start up from the last dot com bust of the late 1990s, a “Bubble 2.0″ firm operating in a recession no less, without ever producing a business plan, and yet getting $20 million here and $30 million there in financing (see this, this, this, and that). Twitter may be as irrelevant to Iran as it is good for the promotion of Twitter itself, and for the self-flattery of some ardent Twitter users who believe that their tweets and their green-tinted avatars will change the world, or at least Iran. The revolution will not only be tweeted, it will be fast and easy, and it will be led by Americans themselves, “for Iran”.
posted by edbles at 11:30 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


In an attempt to convince rapid readers who do not make time to fact check, or cannot check facts, it has become a habit for some who use Twitter to precede their tweet with the word, “CONFIRMED,” without any indication of how the information was confirmed, when, and by whom. “Citizen journalism” and civil society politics are both going to get damaged unless we take away some lessons from this conflict.

#amazonfail 2.0
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:44 PM on June 20, 2009


"no, I don't think it's CIA/MI5 orchestrated"

Intelligence geek nitpick: MI5 would not orchestrate foreign intervention, they deal with domestic intelligence. The people you are thinking of are the Secret Intelligence Service (also referred to as MI6 on occasion).
posted by jaduncan at 1:26 AM on June 21, 2009


How a college professor found himself throwing bricks like "a hooligan."
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:21 AM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Intelligence geek nitpick

Oops! Yes, what jaduncan said. Must proofread better after glass of wine.
posted by elfgirl at 5:49 AM on June 21, 2009


This is an interesting article about the problems with verifying the information coming out on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and the like. I think it puts forward something to think about.

It starts with this:

"Source verification of digital information has risen to prominence with the Iranian election protests that have been ongoing since Saturday, 13 June, 2009. This does not just apply to alleged information distributed through social media, of course, as it also applies to mainstream media who, like the BBC, have been found to use doctored photos of protests showing a massive rally for Mir Hosein Mousavi that was actually a rally in support of the winning candidate, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"In an attempt to convince rapid readers who do not make time to fact check, or cannot check facts, it has become a habit for some who use Twitter to precede their tweet with the word, “CONFIRMED,” without any indication of how the information was confirmed, when, and by whom. “Citizen journalism” and civil society politics are both going to get damaged unless we take away some lessons from this conflict."

posted by Houstonian at 7:12 AM on June 21, 2009


[placeholding]
posted by five fresh fish at 9:57 AM on June 21, 2009


Rafsanjani's daughter arrested, state TV reports
posted by homunculus at 10:15 AM on June 21, 2009


Someone found video of the martyred "Neda" watching the protests with her dad just before she was shot.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:30 AM on June 21, 2009


Iranian clerics seek supreme leader alternative
posted by adamvasco at 11:48 AM on June 21, 2009


This is pretty good.

Rage Against the Machine

I want to go break some shit now.
posted by empath at 12:00 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Repression stepped up yet again as Iran becomes world’s biggest prison for journalists
posted by homunculus at 1:10 PM on June 21, 2009


More Details on Saturday's Demonstrations
posted by homunculus at 1:35 PM on June 21, 2009


I got to wondering why Ballen and Doherty hadn't responded to the charges against them, and discovered they did. From Commentary: Iranians want more democracy - CNN.com
Given Iranians' own priorities for their government, the events of the past few days may ultimately weaken President Ahmadinejad's standing -- even among those who did vote to re-elect him.

In fact, our survey found that more than 86 percent of Iranians who said they would vote for Ahmadinejad also chose ensuring free elections and a free press as among the most important priorities they have for the Iranian government.
posted by shetterly at 2:57 PM on June 21, 2009


I don't this think this video has been posted yet, and it's absolutely amazing. Watch to the end--it's like something out of a movie.

I really think Khamenei's losing his grip on the situation. There are two ways to tamp down an uprising like this. You can give the people half a loaf and convince them to go home, or you can crack down hard and make everybody too scared to leave their house. This kind of half-assed stuff just emboldens the protesters as they realize they outnumber the riot police about a hundred to one. Burning down a Basij compound or routing a squad of armored cops will do wonders for a crowd's self-confidence.
posted by EarBucket at 3:08 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm started to get worried about C_f_I, who hasn't Tweeted in about 21 hours. If his silence is intentional, I hope he's getting some rest.
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:27 PM on June 21, 2009


Someone found video of the martyred "Neda" watching the protests with her dad just before she was shot.

This may or may not be her Facebook account: Neda Salehi
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:52 PM on June 21, 2009


Thanks for posting that video, EarBucket. Amazing.
posted by NoMich at 3:55 PM on June 21, 2009


According to Nico Pitney, her name was Neda Agha Soltan.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:10 PM on June 21, 2009


I'm started to get worried about C_f_I, who hasn't Tweeted in about 21 hours. If his silence is intentional, I hope he's getting some rest. - Dr. Zira

23 hours now -- that is the longest he has been missing. Each time he comes back and seems more driven by what he has seen. His tweet history will likely be published - like "Salam Pax". My other sorrow is for the crashofsmile young one who barely knows English. Quite poignant.

Meanwhile it seems that #iranelection is infiltrated with fear/war mongering voices. It has passed its usefulness.

On an NPR program this morning someone made a good point for encouraging non-violence by the protesters (or as much as possible not instigating violence). If the protesters attack with force, the Basij - and military/police - will respond more to their fear of the protesters than to loyalty to the government. It is a waiting game --
posted by Surfurrus at 5:14 PM on June 21, 2009


A good reminder of the echo-chamber characteristics of Twitter:

The British Foreign Ministry spoke directly to the British Ambassador in Tehran who said that the reports of the British Embassy taking in injured were incorrect. I would say fraudulent.

Fraudulent is a very strong word. But if the misinformation was spread deliberately (to lure protestors into the waiting hands of basiji stationed at embassy gates?), it would be the right word to use.
posted by tksh at 6:28 PM on June 21, 2009


Ann Curry tweets that the protesters are trying to organize a general strike, and there are reports that it may include the oil workers. If that happens, it's pretty much the end of the regime. Without oil money, they've got nothing.
posted by EarBucket at 8:28 PM on June 21, 2009


Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology
posted by homunculus at 8:58 PM on June 21, 2009


Ann Curry tweets that the protesters are trying to organize a general strike, and there are reports that it may include the oil workers. If that happens, it's pretty much the end of the regime. Without oil money, they've got nothing.

This would be ironic, harkening back to Amenidijad's original campaign promise to Iranians that the country's oil wealth would begin to be distributed more equitably to its people.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:21 PM on June 21, 2009


23 hours now -- that is the longest he has been missing. Each time he comes back and seems more driven by what he has seen.

Surfurrus: Still no updates since Saturday, while persiankiwi and others have been updating furiously. I really pray he's chosen to go quiet for his own safety.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:00 AM on June 22, 2009


I wonder what happened with the pirate bay thing...
posted by HylandErickson at 6:28 PM on June 22, 2009


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