Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Situation in Iran (Proxy Post for US West)

By now everyone has seen the video of the young philosophy student who was shot on Saturday. They say this was done by security forces, but that cannot be corroporated. Journalists are barred from reporting on Neda period. This afternoon on the Diane Rehm Show, when a journalist in Tehran was questioned about Neda over the phone he responded, "I can't talk about that now." Her family has not been allowed a public burial.

In conversations with people who know Iran and from radio reports, the following issues have come up. 1) as the funeral ceramonies move forward for those killed in these protests, the government will find it harder and harder to resist opposition. In Iran there are ceramonies at the (Hafteh) 7th day, (Cheleh) 40th, and then (Sal) one year following the death. During the Revolution, these days were used to shame the regime. Will it happen again?

2) Iranian Republican Guards are like National Reservists. They only work part time as Republican Guard. The rest of the time, they are citizens. They do not want to shoot on their own. And reports are that the Republican Guards overwhelming support moderate, reformist movements. Therefore, they are asking people to get off the streets, saying things like, "Please go home. I don't want to hit you. But those guys over there will! Please, for your families and mine, go home. "Those "guys over there" are Hezbollah and Al Qaeda Apparently, the current regime is employing Hezbollah and . . .get this . . Al Qaeda to conduct the crack down on the protestors. This is very telling. It means Iran knows who Al Qaeda is and has been funding it throughout, which takes me back to my posts about Iran's involvement in Iraq. During the Revolution, the Republican Guards did not want to fire on Iranians. We are seeing it again.

3) The regime is admitting that there voter irregularities, but still claiming that the vote count was too big for these irregularities to make a difference.

4) The British Are Running: The British are coming under greater fire. The British are evacuating embassy dependents . Iran is threatening to cut diplomatic ties with the UK. I find it very interesting that it's the UK and not the US that is getting hit so hard. Has Obama's cautious stance made it harder to hit the US? Something is preventing these guys from raising the US as a specter. They know that among the youth, America is positively viewed. I think they are also concerned about what America will do. It shows that they are more frightened and unsure of the US than we may realize. Besides, we don't have diplomatic ties that they can cut off. So the UK is the next best thing.

5) My Iranian friends are predicting a bloodbath. Iranians will be killed and they think this will go violent. Opposition to the regime has been mounting quietly. Iran is an incredibly diverse country, both ethnically and religiously. There has been upsurge in interest Zoroastrianism in Iran. And the thought is that one day we will see Imams and Ayatollahs strung up on the streets. To quote one friend, "Iranians are long suffering, patient people. They are incredibly kind, but incredibly emotional. When they get angry, it is deep seeded anger that has been suppressed for ages and it will get violent. It will make the French Revolution look like a picnic."

6) I say that when that happens, it will have a huge impact on the entire region. What will happen to Hamas and Hezbollah? What will happen in Iraq? And what about Pakistan and Afghanistan? The impact will be world changing. The whole chess board will re-align.

(This post was composed by US West and posted for her by Raised By Republicans because of computer problems.)


Raised By Republicans said...

Al Qaeda? Really? Do you have a source for that? I always thought that Al Qaeda was on record as wanting to kill all the Shia.

Pombat said...

Maybe Al Qa'ida would prefer to keep Iran as is than risk it changing to a more democratic regime, with the resultant massive changes across the region? They need a steady supply of disaffected/dissatisfied youths to recruit after all.

Do the US have embassies in Iran at the moment? If so, are they being evacuated? What's the official advice to US media etc who might be over there? Don't blame the Brits for evacuating to be honest.

I would hope that things could change without (further) loss of life, but I can't see that happening to be honest.

Anonymous said...

I think this may be the start of a potential, global revolution. The regime was so blatant with stealing the Iranian some of the major cities, the voter turn out was 120% to 140% of the total population of the respective cities and they would have to have stuffed 11 million ballots in 3 hours. This is so blatant, the fraud that is, and the more they kill peaceful protesters, the more sympathizers they will get and the more citizens will be recruited. The protesters are now organizing and getting tactical with the resistance...marking the police officers' homes to attack at the police are doing to them. What I think will happen...the supreme ruler will say, okay, we'll re-count and blame it on one of his ministries for screwing up...he will do something to pacify the masses...but it may be to late and that may not be enough.

I support my Iranian brothers and sisters in their great fight for truth and ultimately, peace. May the force be with you!

Pombat: To my knowledge, there currently is no US Embassy in Iran and they do not recognize dual citizenship.

William Wallace

The Law Talking Guy said...

I'm not sure I believe they are hiring Al Qaeda. It's kind of like believing that the Pope employed special Protestant troops during the Thirty Years' War, or that Queen Elizabeth I had a special Catholic squadron for home policing. Too much ideological opposition.

The Law Talking Guy said...

USWest - the emotional tenor of Iranians is certainly a given. I live near that community and see it every day. It's not that Iranian people have more emotions than others, but as a cultural matter they are encouraged to be expressive with their emotions, to exaggerate them. This is not uncommon throughout the Levant and the Mediterranean world. We notice it especially because the northern European cultural tendency is towards understatement. To be crude, if an Englishman and an Iranian were killed in the same car crash, the Iranian friends would be weeping, rending their clothes, screaming, crying, and swearing revenge, the English would be tight-lipped and stoic. From a psychological point of view, it's the English who are engaging in the more destructive behavior. As Americans, we are culturally more permissive of emotion than other northern Europeans (see: Oprah, Jerry Springer, etc.) but we still are nothing like the middle eastern peoples in our expectation of how one should describe one's emotional state in public.

All this is to say that the emotional extremism of your Iranian friends predicting blood and fury should also be viewed, in the first instance, as a form of emotional exaggeration.

I also should note that when you hear "Death to America!" or "Drive the Israelis into the Sea!" or even "One Israeli is worth ten Palestinians" (Yitzhak Shamir) it is easy for Americans to mistake these dramatic expressions for literal policy. The Israelis have, btw, made quite a meal of telling American media that the Arabs mean everything they say as literal policy. Fox News eats that up, and AIPAC doles it out like candy. But It is a mistake to listen to the talk of the Levant with American ears.

I should add that one of the other cultural issues that arises is that Americans and northern Europeans associate that level of emotionalism with women and weakness, which are linked in the cultural imagination (by men). By contrast, peoples of the Levant view Anglo-american stoicism and directness as weakness, even feminine submission. So we have lots of communication problems.

The Levant is a bargaining culture; ours is not. In a bargaining culture, you always start with a supposedly sincere extreme position that you will later move away from. The impression that makes on the Western mind is of weakness and being weaselly. The straight-talk express is not the Orient express...

Raised By Republicans said...

I have to admit that when I see an Iranian-American activist/politician wailing and rending their clothes in a TV interview, my first reaction is "They're faking it. No one who genuinely feels that deeply would ever agree to do the interview in the first place. They'd be too overwhelmed."

Pombat et al...The US has no diplomatic relations with Iran at all - no embassy, nothing. US interests are assisted by an office in the Swiss Embassy on our behalf. That's it.

RE: Evacuations. Given the way the Iranian government is arresting, beating and generally pushing journalists around, I do not blame any country for getting their people out. Especially the UK, as Iran's leaders have singled that country out for particular blame.

Raised By Republicans said...

By the way, Andrew Sullivan (who has been pretty connected with Iranian twitter reports for some reason) is reporting that Mousavi has called a national strike for today (Tuesday). The government of course announced that anyone who does not show up for work will be immediately fired.

The Law Talking Guy said...

It's not about "faking it." It's about how we express ourselves in different cultures. If you were to behave the way you describe, RBR, I would know you were "faking it" or had gone nuts, because that's not how you or I were brought up to act. For us, it woudl be very abnormal behavior. But Iranians and middle easterners have different norms. For them, such dramatic behavior is *not* abnormal, and it would be a serious mistake to interpret it as such.

When Americans deal with Asians, we also see such miscommunication. In many Asian cultures, it is considered very rude to say "no," so they don't say it. Americans sometimes think they have been lied to, but that is only because Americans have different norms.

It's not like Americans are all about straight talk, though. We should recognize how much obfustication we require in our culture also. Your best friend tells you that his father died, and you ask him, "How are you doing?" The response is "okay." Someone unfamiliar with the culture might be inclined to think that your friend is not at all saddened by the death. This is not true. Nor is the person lying to says he is "okay." When you asks "are you okay" it is really a request by the speaker to not hear about the person's true emotional state, which is almost always granted.

Raised By Republicans said...

Yeah, I know LTG, I was just expressing my first gut reaction, not a fully thought out analysis. In a sense, I was offering my own gut reaction as evidence in support of your analysis of the different approaches to expressing emotion.

USwest said...

So culture does matter . .. ;-)

The Al Q. reference: Terrorists are terrorists. They are organized criminals all with their own agendas. They don't have loyalities. Al Q. is rather loosely organized. So I am not sure that the Sunni/Shia divide matters much . . . especially if money is concerned. There are political ramifications that Al Q. ops might take into account, especially if a more reformist government were in place in Iran. But that is pure speculation on my part. I should have been more clear in my statments that Al Q involovement in these protests was hearsay. I can't find a news reference to back it up. So we should take that with a grain of salt.

The Hamas/Hezbollah participation is well reported on. Here is one source:

Dr. Strangelove said...

The massacre of peaceful protesters by the Iranian security forces over the past few days appears to have succeeded in quelling the massive, daily street demonstrations. Resistance continues, but the large crowds have largely been intimidated. There will be no revolution this day.

The government was able to suppress the movement because they still enjoy popular, even fanatical support from a significant segment of the Iranian population. Unlike the various "Velvet Revolutions" that swept through former Soviet republics, this movement lacked consensus support from the people. Unlike the massacre at Tiananmen Square however, where the Chinese deployed an effectively "outside" military force against the people of Beijing, this murder of Iranians by Iranians is a crime within the family. Real blood has been shed. And there will be consequences.

Long after these demonstrations have died down, the after effects of this political earthquake will continue to reverberate in Tehran. For the first time, the regime has been defied on a massive scale. The aura of invincibility is gone, and the government is now much weaker than it once was. We may see bluff and bluster from the Iranian regime for a while, but change is coming.

But this is no longer merely a political dispute. The decision to murder their own people has elevated the conflict from a political disagreement to a much more serious schism. Moreover, the opposition now has martyrs. Their relatives will seek a reckoning, perhaps sooner rather than later. Mr. Ahmadinejad has ample reason to fear for his life--little wonder he has kept such a low profile.

The government of Iran will come to rue the day they chose to kill instead of compromise.