Letter from Tehran
15 Aug 2009 19:05
The Gossip in Tehran
Whether a figment of the Iranian imagination or not, rumors have been persistent over the last two years that Ahmadinejad and the IRGC high command will stage a coup against the current clerical establishment and revert Iran to its 1979 revolutionary roots. The rumor has not gone away; it has gained momentum, especially in the past couple of weeks. June 12 was seen as "the Supreme Leader's coup," one media analyst in Tehran told Tehran Bureau. "The IRGC's is yet to come." The author of this piece in an entrepreneur who has been following political and economic trends in Iran and Middle East for more than 20 years. The opinions expressed are his own.
Tehran | 15 Aug 2009
[TEHRAN BUREAU] Comment Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is well on his way to becoming the future dictator of Iran and there is not much anyone can do to stop him. At least it sure looks that way. The Sepah [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC] is out in full force behind him. They are brazenly open about their position and cannot be easily stopped. Sepah has now also become an ideologically-fueled economic force with a key advantage over all others: Its members are armed and present throughout Iran. They can take control of any part of the country and make sure no cleric is left alive! I believe Ahmadinejad will set down that road to eliminate them in the next 12 to 18 months. I think some clerics fail to realize this and have not stood in his way.
To show he is on the side of the common man, Ahmadinejad will first go after the mofsedin eghtesadi -- the economically corrupt. From their perspective, that includes Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ayatollah Abbas Vaez Tabasi, and 100 or so other clerics whose total net worth is about $100 billion USD (in Iran and around the world). Having gone after the rich mullahs, Ahmadinejad will have gained significant support form the Average Joe here and he will use that support to unleash his aggression internally. Ahmadinejad will then turn on the clerics who do not conform to the ideology of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.
I know I have said this to many of my friends before but it is worth repeating: The only path for Ahmadinejad is to become the ultra-fascist in the region and he will do that masterfully through manipulation of 79 million people here. He will also use the Arab street to gain traction just like Hitler used the Austrian and Serb-Italian fascist movement. Ahmadinejad enjoys the tactical support of an elite force within Sepah that is not going to give up power again to anyone. At best, they want to be the military economic power like China; at worst, they want to be total rulers without any constraints. They are vengeful and will take on the Arabs in the region as a priority and that will likely bring about a lot of support for them from many Iranians who are resentful of the Persian Gulf Arabs themselves.
Iran is the changing axis of this region, and it may be the trigger for change in a big part of Asia as well. As Iran becomes more and more unpredictable, the region will start to panic and seek stability at any cost. That is what Ahmadinejad is counting on and he will leverage it.
Should the United States reach out to Ahmadinejad? I think they are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. He loves to be threatened and will use that to show how pure he is, how outside the reach and influence of foreign powers he really is. But on the other hand, I think the unity of European and North American countries does scare him. A real novel approach however would be to confront Russia and China for their support of the regime; this could be the most powerful force. The U.S. government should use all of its diplomacy in that direction. The regime in Iran will not last and United States needs to come to terms with Russia and China about how much they would like to prolong this regime's life.
Otherwise, from my perspective here, the only other force the regime will respond to is public opinion. They will not budge from pressure by politicians, but they will if non-government officials around the world start raising human rights issues and badgering them with it. I think Akbar Ganji's human rights campaign at the United Nations was a good example of how to go about this.
The force of moderates in Iran is gone and with it hopes for change. If not now, it will be gone by the end of the month unless Rafsanjani and his clan act in a dramatic way. Perhaps Rafasanjani can take a direct approach and make a radical push for changing the leadership. He can get the president impeachment process started and he can act using his paramilitary forces.
The regime is putting on these stupidly orchestrated show trials, which demonstrates that they will go to any length for survival. They are shameless however in making sure that the dignity of human beings are totally destroyed in the process. The trials are real sad to see on TV and I am depressed at how the old middle class, like my parents, are still not willing to do anything for this country. Everyone is taking a sort of hidden pleasure in knowing that the mullahs are eating their own children, just like animals and insects. Reformist or not, it does not matter. The fact is that they are putting the former leaders of the revolution on the spot and in prison. Some, like my family and their friends, think this is just the thing Iranians deserve.
People continue openly talking about how the crack in the regime is going to destroy it from within. I think the demonstrators know that their demonstrations are just pushing the chisel down the crack, so that is all they want.
Anyway, that is all I can see. This circle is what I am immersed in, but hope soon to get out when my chest cold gets a little better.
A few weeks ago, I saw about 30-40 kids running away from a few guards in full gear! This was on Vali Asr, right before Niyayesh Street. It was not cool to see them running in fear and the crowd around just looking! I was in a taxi so I could only see the whole thing for a few minutes. The rubber batons were being waved in the air like they were chasing sheep and I felt real shame.
I was on my way to [X]'s house. When I got there I had to drink about a half a bottle of scotch to calm my nerves. My body collapsed the next day.
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