The specter of revolution haunts the mullahs in Tehran

Massive demonstrations are rocking Tehran and other Iranian cities, and yesterday, the mullahs lost the support of a key power bloc, as the Grand Bazaar of Tehran shut down in protest.  In the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew the Shah, when the bazaaris threw their support to the mullahs, it was clear that revolution would succeed.  Students demonstrating in the street can be shot, locked up and tortured (as they were in 1979 and are again today), but the bazaar merchants interact with the public every day and provide the essentials of life.

Grand Bazaar shuttered (screen grab from YouTube).

President Barack Obama's shunning of the Green Revolution Movement of 2009-10 probably doomed it to failure and kept the mullahs able to work on their nuclear arsenal.  There is no danger of President Trump helping the Islamic Republic keep its hold on power.  His withdrawal from the JCPOA deal helped spark the protests, and the tightening of economic sanctions has crippled the economy and caused the Iranian rial to sink like a stone on currency markets.  The economic chaos is no doubt a factor influencing the bazaaris to support the protests.

Australia's ABC, which is generally pro-Palestinian, describes the protests and the Iranian media's reaction.

Iran's semi-official news agencies, Fars, ISNA and Tasnim, described the protests at the Grand Bazaar as erupting after the Iranian rial dropped to 90,000 to the US dollar on the country's black market, despite the Government's attempts to control the currency rate.

Videos posted to social media showed protesters at the bazaar heckling shopkeepers who refused to close, shouting in Farsi: "Coward."

A short time later, about two kilometres from the Grand Bazaar, videos shared by Iranians on social media appeared to show a crowd confronting police at Parliament. The videos show tear gas in the air and protesters screaming: "They attacked us with tear gas."

Another man is heard shouting: "Come back."

State media in Iran did not immediately report the Grand Bazaar demonstration.  Only Fars reported on the parliament protest, which it described only as shopkeepers asking politicians to, "stop rising prices".

The Times of Israel links to videos of the anti-Palestinian, pro-U.S. chants:

Videos posted to social media showed protesters chanting: "Death to Palestine," "No to Gaza, no to Lebanon" and "Leave Syria and think of us."  Chants of "We don't want the ayatollahs" and "Death to the dictator" were also heard at some rallies. ...

The slogans heard at Monday's rallies mark a shift in Iranian street protests, where "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" are commonly heard.  The protests signaled widespread unease in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw America from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers and restore sanctions on the country.

According to Hadashot TV news's veteran Middle East analyst Ehud Ya'ari, Monday's protests marked the first time that Iranians have chanted "Death to Palestine" during anti-regime protests.

In the last six months, Iran's currency has lost almost 50 percent of its value, with the US dollar now buying around 85,000 rials on the open market.

The mullahs are facing disaster in Syria, as President Trump is attacking their Hezb'allah pawns from the air, and Russia has abandoned any protest.  The mullahs may need to call home some of the Revolutionary Guard troops dispatched there, in order to protect the regime at home.  But that would only accelerate their collapse in Syria and humiliate the mullahs even further in the eyes of the Iranian people.

Thanks to the restructuring of Middle East Policy by President Trump, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Israel are united in support of a revolution.  Israel is generally conceded to have the best information sources within Iran, and Saudi, which borders the country, is in the position to offer material support and money.  As custodians of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, it also carries some theological weight, despite the Sunni-Shia split, and every year welcomes large numbers of Iranian hajj pilgrims.

I have my fingers crossed for a quick, effective, and relatively bloodless revolution in Iran.  The freeing of the Iranian people from tyranny, and the repudiation of fundamental Islamism, would have a huge global political impact.

It might also open archives that could tell us a great deal about the relationship between Iran and the Obama administration, especially Valerie Jarrett, who was born there, as the perverse JCPOA was formulated.

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