“You should not come to visit - the weather here is very bad.”
These were the words of a friend’s father when she called him at their family home in Tehran last week. When pressed for details, he would not elaborate, but simply reiterated his message. “It’s very bad. The weather is very bad.”
From all reports, the weather has been clear and chilly in Tehran - about the same as Baltimore. The “weather”, on the other hand, has been terrible.
The Iranian government has taken advantage of the world’s focus on Egypt by conducting a continual spate of jailings and executions over the past two weeks. They’ve been confiscating cell phones from reformist leaders, instituting internet controls, putting prominent opposition individuals under house arrest, and making it clear that the Feb 14 protests will be greeted with swift harsh measures.
In response some internet filter workarounds are up already, posters are going up in major cities, and many prominent individuals have already spopken out in support of the protesters, (including some who didn’t take sides in 2009).
The Iranian government doesn’t trust the military to enforce the protest bans with force, so they are going to rely much more on the police, first, then the Basij (militia thugs) and the revolutionary guard if the police can’t handle it.
This will be very different than what we saw in Egypt, and probably very different than what happened in 2009 in Iran. The protesters have seen that success against a deeply entrenched regime is possible. They have had the past year and a half to reflect on their successes and failures and devise new tactics. They also know the stakes are much higher.
The government knows this as well - they cannot afford to slowly stifle the protests until the world becomes distracted, they will have to act quickly to make sure that the green movement doesn’t build up any momentum - their own legitimacy is on the line. Like the protesters, however they too have had a year and a half to develop new strategies.
It’s already tomorrow in Iran. My hopes are prayers are with the youth of Persia.
Follow the events as they unfold at the PBS Tehran Bureau liveblog.