In Iran, the armed revolt is starting
As a longtime Venezuela-watcher, I can tell you: Protests are such bee ess.
In the face of an implacable socialist (or any ideological) regime, Venezuelans have found themselves protesting for 20 years now, in vast, vast, numbers, and the regime's grip remains as tight as ever. What's more, there are no little reforms as a result of the protests. The regime is not budging an inch. They can protest all they like, the horridness they protest only gets worse.
I'm going to infer the same situation is operative in Iran. Iranians can protest till the cows come home, whether it's the truckers protesting artificial costs, teachers protesting theft of their pensions, villagers protesting mismanagement of water resources, kitchen-sink Iranians protesting the 131.15% inflation (admittedly no match for Venezuela's 40,000%), according to inflation expert Steve Hanke, and locals always protesting corruption....
Apparently the mullahs and their goon squads were in for a surprise when on Sunday, someone opened fire on them in Khorramshahr, 400 miles southwest of Tehran, as they rolled in to shut down a protest over locals getting poisoned by untreated water. It's an area with a large Arabic population out near the Iraqi border. The gunfire came back at them.
Mowing down is now going two ways, and it's clear the regime is scared - their official state media said the protestors only threw stones and garbage. Well, no. There's a spectacular, well-shot video on Twitter here, showing a protestor firing back on the Iranian state goons, and it's starting to attract the notice of the news - here, here, here and here. Breitbart (the last link) says four were killed. The mullahs are saying it was one.
Gives you the flavor of the propaganda war going on, and the mullahs' desperate and failing effort to suppress the news. Scared they are, indeed. And this is likely to get worse.
Now, it was just one person with a gun, and we have occasionally seen that sort of thing in both Cuba ad Venezuela. It may mean nothing and go away. But the fact that the news is on it serves as a multiplier effect and is likely to encourage more action. That's different from what's going on in Cuba or Venezuela where such events are found only in local news briefs. Meanwhile, as we have reported here, there is a big conference of Iran democracy activists over in Paris and it's being closely watched by all sorts of Iranian exiles, as noted in the tele-presence of Albanians here. You can BET the Iranians are watching, too.
There's a stage for change building.
Will the regime reform? Not a chance, not with the things they've done and the corruption they've profited from. The only way these people are going out is on the sharp end of a meathook and they know it. Read this excellent account of why the Venezuelan regime refuses to exit quietly after all the horrors they've done by Francisco Toro and Moises Naim, it explains the mullahs' likely response, too. Just cross out 'Venezuela' in the piece and put in 'Iran.'
Will the regime retire? Likely not. See Toro and Naim. One of the reasons Toro and Naim cite is that the example of Chile's former military ruler, Augusto Pinochet, who had been assured of a quiet retirement were he to exit, who was reneged on due to the activism of leftists abroad. They changed the terms of the original deal after they got what they wanted and forced him to spend his remaining days fighting leftwing lawsuits and assorted jailings from these grandstanders from the outside. Good or bad, the dictators of the world have noted that precedent set, and now none of them will ever exit in exchange for a quiet retirement. They will fight to cling to power from now on, because they know a deal isn't a deal anymore. So expect no deals. As Toro and Naim, writing in The Atlantic, noted:
A quiet retirement at home is out of the question for a leader who has done so much damage to so many people: The specter of prosecution would always loom. Even if he could handpick a trustworthy successor willing to extend elaborate guarantees, he’ll be hard-pressed to forget that Chile’s General Augusto Pinochet spent the last years of his life battling prosecutions at home and abroad.
So all that remains to happen is either to endure the hellishness, or fight it. There's no democracy alternative in the middle. It looks like at least some Iranians have come to this conclusion too with this gunfire, and it may well mean that what's next will be bloody. The Green Revolution didn't work. Now with the mullahs refusing to reform and refusing to retire, the signs are there that Iran is now moving to a revolution that far from being green will see rivers of red.