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Entries in Basij (12)


Iran Today: The IRGC, Basij and "Defeating The Enemy" In The Presidential Election

Rouhani: I Had To Answer Qalibaf In Debate

An EA correspondent writes: the video below --- showing moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani in his car --- was recorded after last night's debate.

At the beginning of the video someone on the road tells Rouhani well done and the man with him says he appreciates Rouhani for the answers he gave in the debate, and asks him what he thought about it.

Rouhani says: "I didn’t want to answer him [Principlist candidate Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf] like that but when I saw that he was not telling the truth, I had to say something to make sure people understand everything properly and also for historical records.  I had so many things to say but I wanted to follow morality. Unfortunately some people place justice and truth to one side in competition."

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Iran Feature: How the Revolutionary Guards Interfere in Elections (Sardari)

Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the Revolutionary Guards, and the Supreme Leader

Since 1979 --- despite a mandate to operate outside politics, backed up by an injunction from Ayatollah Khamenei --- the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Basij have become increasingly active in the political sphere. They have interfered with the operation of free and fair elections under the guise of protecting the Revolution, they have subverted electoral law with impunity. On each occasion, their meddling has become more brazen and less furtive. These forces now make up a parallel government that works to control and subvert the democratic process.

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Iran 1st-Hand: Reports from a Controlled Election (Secor)

Sweeping Up Campaign Flyers, 25 FebruaryIran, vast and restive, had a way of revealing itself, even in bad times. The Green Movement had been forced underground, but it remained a preoccupation, even among hard-liners. One day, my handlers directed me to a campaign event: a debate among conservative parliamentary candidates at Tehran University, organized by the Basij. The room was filled, and my translator and I stood in the back.

A brave soul approached the microphone and inquired, in Farsi, “If we object to the policies of the nezam, what recourse do we have?” In Iran, the word nezam — “the system” — refers to the country’s unusual political structure, which combines a theocracy, ruled by a Supreme Leader and his executors, and a republic, with elected officials and public debates.

One of the panelists, Hamid Rasai, a white-turbaned cleric in an olive-green robe, replied, “Most people don’t think like you. Most people are from the Basij. You who complain are in the minority.”

The crowd roared with applause. Rasai represented the Steadfastness Front, an arch-conservative group of parliamentary candidates associated with a cleric, in Qom, who had once remarked that anyone offering a new interpretation of Islam should be punched in the mouth.

Rasai’s dismissive remark was the reverse of a claim that I had often heard from Iranian reformists: that only a fifth of the populace supported the Basij and that most Iranians were reformists or liberal-minded. Neither appraisal was verifiable in a country without reliable polling. But their concurrence conveyed a different kind of truth. Iranian society had become not just divided but adversarial, with entire communities denying one another’s existence.

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Iran Music Special: The Basij Militia Rap for Occupy Wall Street

We have repeatedly noted the Iranian regime's love of protest --- well, protest that is 1) in America or 2) by Basij militia "students", say, in front of a foreign embassy.

But what if the two could be combined? And what if it could be done through music? Not just music, but hard-core urban rap music?

Basij member Hashem Bafghi has made that protest dream come true. A snippet of the English lyrics:

Occupy Wall Street is a real war street
What Happened to the American Dream?
Don’t watch and have ice cream
Capitalism failed everyone
Killed the people one by one

Unfortunately, we cannot embed this iconic track, but you can have a listen and rap along here (hat tip to Golnaz Esfandiari of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty).

And, for a reminder that criticism of Wall Street is not just a 21st-century thing, you can enjoy a less aggressive foreign intervention through music:


Iran 1st-Hand Special: Basij Student's Account of the Attack on the British Embassy

See also The Latest from Iran (2 December): After the Embassy, It's Back to the Economy

A first-hand account from one of the Basij militia who attacked the British Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday --- the author, Hamid Darveshie Shahkolaie, is  the editor-in-chief of "Hayat", the monthly publication of the Basij students of Imam Sadeq University. Posted early Wednesday morning, it also offers photographs of the attack:

Our entrance sounded the alarm. That reminded me of computer games where you fire the first shot and you start hearing the alarm all of a sudden. To make it short, we found six staff members. We told them to be calm and not to be afraid. We [said that we] have come here because of the dangerous and animosity-filled policies of their government and its hand in the assassination of Dr. Shahriari [Majid Shahriari, a scientist killed in November 20010] and nuclear issues and such and that we would give them their passports at the airport so they can return to their country.

I don't want to brag, but their translator (the guard) told us: "You came in so fast and caught me off-guard that I wasn't able to fulfill my duty, which was to escort them out." He was a lowly man and a liar. For instance he told us there were just five staff members, but we found a sixth. The poor staff were very afraid and locked the door so that we would not find them.

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Iran Feature: So Who Were the "Students" in the Embassy Attack?

Many reports have used the term "students" to describe those who demonstrated and occupied the British Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday. However, if you take a closer look at what the Iranian media and the "students" themselves are saying, you will get a much better idea of who is responsible. 

Throughout the attack, major State-run news organizations like Iranian Students News Agency and Islamic Republic News Agency were running updates of how "students" had broken into the Embassy. Fair enough ---  you would not expect these outlets to give away the identities of the attackers; there is a concept called plausible deniability, and the Iranian regime is fully aware of it. So to understand what was occurring, one has to look for the proverbial stupid friend.

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Iran Special Analysis: More Than a Game --- 6 Points About the Attack on the British Embassy

Protester Carries Picture of The Queen1. WHY DID THE IRANIAN REGIME PLAY THIS GAME?

Let's start with two points: 1) the regime almost certainly had an important connection with Tuesday's demonstration and attack on the British Embassy; 2) it supported that display of force not from strength, but from weakness.

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Iran Latest: Students Storm British Embassy

Claimed video of the Basij student rally and the start of the assault on the British Embassy

UPDATE 2104 GMT: Footage from Iran State outlet Press TV of the attack:

UPDATE 2051 GMT: Some additional information about the afternoon's events....

Claimed video of the Basij student rally and the start of the assault on the British Embassy

UPDATE 2104 GMT: Footage from Iran State outlet Press TV of the attack:

UPDATE 2051 GMT: Some additional information about the afternoon's events....

Iranian media reports that Iran Deputy Police Chief Ahmad Reza Radan entered the embassy at one point and gave an ultimatum to the occupiers to leave, as the occupiers demanded an end to Iranian relations with Britain. Fars also claims that police resorted to force, beating some protesters.

And in one of the more unusual statements of the day, Tehran Provincial Governor Morteza Tamaddon, who appeared at the Embassy at one point, said that it was functioning normally.

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Iran Snapshot: A Protest With a Difference --- This One is by Kermanshah’s Basiji

Yeah there are protests in Urmia and Tabriz over the ecological disaster, but you think those are the only malcontents in Iran? As Karmand News points out, there are a whole lot of plain-clothes enforcers who haven't gotten paid in a long time. And let me promise you, those skulls won't crack themselves, so if Ahmadinejad wants to put down the other protests --- you know, the ones by troublesome opposition and Greens --- he better pick up a baton or pay up.

On the morning of 26 July 2011, around 150 Basijis from Kermanshah gathered outside of the Majlis building in Tehran to protest not being paid wages. According to one protester, although Ahmadinejad agreed in 2006 that Basijis should receive at least a wage equivalent to that of lower-level government employee, they have yet to be paid a salary. They are instead given only a small sum once per year.

Furthermore, according to the 5th Development Plan [for 2010 to 2015], Basijis who fought in the Iran-Iraq War and were on the front lines for more than a year are eligible to receive a pension and health benefits. The Basijis, however, have yet to receive these benefits.


Iran Snapshot: Tehran Offers Basij Militia to Britain as "Peacekeeping Force"

In recent days, we have noted the interest in Iranian leaders and media in the situation in England, from the declaration that the Supreme Leader predicted the unrest as the next phase of the "Islamic Awakening" to President Ahmadinejad's suggesting of referring the matter of "savage" British policing to the United Nations Security Council to the suggestion that Iran could send human rights inspectors to London.

This, however, may be the most generous expression of assistance --- Mohammad Reza Naqdi, has offered the services of the Basij militia as a "peacekeeping force". 

In case, you haven't heard of this peacekeeping force, here is a photograph of members of the "people's militia", established in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini:

And here are Basij militia keeping the peace on 20 June 2009, eight days after Iran's disputed Presidential election, by firing into crowds of protesters:

I'm not quite sure of Naqdi's logic --- is he sending the Basij militia to work with the "savage" and "racist" British police? Or is he sending the militia to work with "oppressed people" in a peaceful assault on buildings, shops, and security forces?

No matter --- I am certain that the commander is making his offer with the very best of intentions....