Mehdi Khalaji of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has written a highly encouraging essay on the fragility of the mullahs' regime.
In his second decade of leadership, Khamenei is living in fear of just such a velvet revolution. Whereas his cultural invasion fears envisioned liberal, democratic values potentially subverting the cultural foundations of the Islamic Revolution, his current worries center on the notion that the revolution's enemies could recruit people through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated to humanitarian, child welfare, trade union, environmental, and antidrug issues. Accordingly, any social or cultural activity outside the regime's supervision is subject to suspicion, especially in the wake of the "color" revolutions that led to the replacement of leaders in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan -- countries close to Iran's borders.
Several foreign scholars, including at least one affiliated with George Soros, have been recently arrested in Iran.
The Iranian regime arose from a mass revolution and has always claimed that it represents the Iranian people. But its actions show how afraid it is of the people. In the regime's view, most Iranians could potentially act against it, whether by going unveiled, watching foreign satellite television stations, or following Western dress fashions. Consequently, control over every aspect of personal life -- the hallmark of totalitarianism -- becomes necessary to preserve the legitimacy and authority of the Shiite jurists. According to Iranian police officials, more than 150,000 women were arrested in Tehran just last month for "bad veils." Many photos and films showing police beating women have been published on websites. Young men are also being targeted; last month, the regime sent instructions to barbershops regarding banned hairstyles.
The international community has limited leverage with which to respond to the Islamic Republic's violation of human rights accords that Iran has signed in the past. More can be done, however, to broaden and extend international condemnation of Iran's human rights record. It was discouraging that, in March, the UN Human Rights Council decided to drop its examination of violations in Iran.
Instead of relying on the corrupt United Nations, the US must work with the newly-elected French leadership and Frau Merkel of Germany, and incoming PM Browne in the UK to enforce tough economic sanctions against Iran, while broadcasting to the Iranian people that they can quickly rejoin the community of nations by bringing down the mullahs.Iran's ally Hugo Chavez is tottering, with mass demonstrations increasing day by day. History shows that revolutions can be contagious.
Hat tip: Richard Baehr