Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more



Iran Analysis: Protests and Options --- What Now for the Greens and the Government?

Let me be clear: today was a grand success for supporters of the Green Movement and a day of utter shame for those who kept blowing their horns of disagreement for months, blaring about the supposed demise of the opposition.

Another set of demonstrations, another round of slogans, another group arrested. The protests are over, and now it's the task of sifting through websites, tweets, Facebook posts, and blogs to figure out how many people were arrested, if anyone was injured or killed, what the government did to block the protesters....

But it’s not that simple.

This is the first time protesters came out to oppose the government since 12 June, the anniversary of the 2009 Presidential election. Six months later, and most analysts still cannot answer key questions: just what is the Green Movement doing in Iran? Is it alive and well? Or has it been destroyed as the Government claims?

What the activists are doing is far from unclear. Speeches by leaders, backroom meetings, opposition writings, Green graffiti on the walls, and banners displayed in strategic locations, as well as hunger strikes and prison unrest: they are busy racking up support.

And the other two questions?

The Government has been able to arrest many important political, student, and human rights activists as well as lawyers, professors, and politicians. The Green Movement is running out of cadres.

But the Government, with its inability to once and for all crush the movement, is also running out of options. This turning into a game of chess where each side is not strong enough to defeat the opponent, but is not weak enough to resign.

Let’s look at the Green Movement’s options.

It can continue its background activities until the climate is favorable and the discontent and strife is heightened enough for the activists to muster sizable marches on the streets of Iran’s cities. Or it can take its chances and try to bring out people out right now.

The first option risks giving the government enough time to infilitrate the movement, destroying it from the inside as it arrests members on the outside.

The second option is tricky. If a massive onslaught fails, the government will probably take desperate measures, arresting Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, jailing anyone with a hint of green on their clothes, and trying to turn the Greens into another version of the "terrorist" MKO.

For a movement that has taken so many years to build, that option is too risky to consider just now.

The Government’s situation is no better.

While it is trying to fight through the sanctions and keep the wheels of its citizens' lives rolling, it has to take out enough cash to feed its ever-growing military-industrial complex to A) spread its tentacles abroad and B) deal with the Green Movement.  

The Government has already arrested almost as many people as it can, killed others, and tried to fool the populace into believing that the Greens are seditious agents of the West. That has prevented a repeat of the mass mobilisation June 2009.  

But the Green Movement’s popularity and their zeal has clearly dealt a severe blow to the government’s ability to control small, dispersed protests. Arrests of activists and banning of newspapers has not stopped the message from breaking into the well-guarded ears of Iran’s populace, as shown by frequent strikes, growing internal strife, and the number of Greens persist in following other Greens into demonstrations.

This leaves the government with two options. It can arrest all the leaders of opposition, including Mousavi and Karroubi, and hope the political elite and clerics do not rise up against them. Or it can detain and/or beat every Green it can find and risk the entire population blowing up.

Today’s protest showed both the limited capacity of the Greens to muster huge number of protesters because of Government repression, but at the same time it demonstrated how weak the government has become in dealing with its foes.

With options running out on both sides, the real question is: who is going to give in first and cross the point of no return on its nuclear option? Is the government going to step up the arrests, intimidations, and physical punishments? Will the Greens will take their chances at defeating the government with one massive push, rather than staying the course and risk losing its base?

My tentaive answer: neither side makes a move for the foreseeable future.  No one wins in the chess match.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Israel-Palestine Analysis: US Declares "Fresh Start" Despite Failure over Israeli Settlements and Palestinian Recogntion | Main | Egypt Shocker: "Israel Equipping Sharks with GPS for Attacks" »

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    EA WorldView - Home - Iran Analysis: Protests and Options --- What Now for the Greens and the Government?

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>