Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to meet Meir Javedanfar, Middle East policy analyst for the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis Company (MEEPAS) and author of "The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and The State of Iran". At the time, the "Green Revolution" in Iran had just begun to bloom and I asked him for his insight as to what to expect.
At the time, he suggested that the key for the dissident movement would be whether or not they could sustain themselves over a long period of time, because the effort to effect change would be long in coming. The good news, he said, was that the Iranian people are a very patient lot, and that there were certain common cultural traditions that might naturally aid in this sustainability. Among those traditions are a multitude of religious and political holidays that provide the Green Revolutionaries with opportunities to demonstrate. And when one of their own is killed in the regime's crackdown, that spawns a new occasion, as the seventh day of mourning has a profound religious significance for Iranians.
Yesterday, Javedanfar posted an analysis piece over at "Frontline", and it would seem that those traditions have become something of an engine for this movement, one that the regime is now basically helping to sustain:
The brutal attack against the mourners at Montazeri's funeral meant that more people were motivated to turn up in the streets on Tasua (the day before Ashura), as well as on Ashura, which happened to fall on the 7th day of Montazeri's passing. In fact, small demonstrations have continued in different places since Montazeri was buried.
Further, on Ashura, his forces killed Seyed Ali Habibi Mousavi Khameneh, the nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi. It's very possible that he happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. However, the Mousavi family might understandably assume that he was targeted for assassination. After all, how is it possible that among thousands upon thousands of demonstrators, he was one of the few shot dead? Was he followed from the beginning by an assassination team? Was he marked for death before he left the house? These are questions that cannot be overlooked.
And now his funeral, as well as the 7th day of his death, will provide other occasions for the opposition to demonstrate. Add to this 15 religious holidays, plus at least five major political ones. Meanwhile, more are expected to be killed or arrested, meaning further mourning congregations and demonstrations. Put all of these dates together and the regime could start facing an unprecedented number of demonstrations.
This all tends to indicate that Iran may be drawing close to a tipping point. Javedanfar says in his article that post-Ashura, there now exists the "potential" for a "a full scale-civil disobedience campaign" that he likens to an "Iranian intifada."
"This is a battle," Javedanfar says, "that [Supreme Leader] Khamenei will find extremely difficult to win. In fact, if developments continue in their current form, they can result in significant changes to the structure of his regime, or more drastically, lead to its total demise."
Speaking of the Green Movement, the Iranian regime directed a new spate of violence against the Greens during street demonstrations yesterday commemorating the Shiite holiday of Ashura, which remembers the climactic battle between the martyred saint Hussein and his persecutor Yazid. Protesters, amazingly, chanted "Death to Khamenei," the supreme leader of Iran, and compared him to the hated Yazid. That could be the death knell for a regime that claims its legitimacy from fidelity to Shiite religious precepts.
In many photographs and videos in June, when the regime first cracked down, many of the people on the streets were wearing face-masks or bandanas to hide their identities for fear of the consequences.
Today, it was the baseej who were wearing the masks and bandanas.
PREVIOUSLY, on the HUFFINGTON POST:
Meir Javedanfar and Dex Torricke-Barton: Iran Will Never Be the Same Again