Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lesson from this Year’s November 4th

What transpired on the streets of Tehran, and from what I heard transpired in other cities as well, was neither something no one had heard of before, nor something strange for a hundred people to say in a country of seventy million. But it is my belief that when a group of people, however small, chant slogans on the street in broad daylight that accuse the country’s highest authority of murder and deny his legitimacy because of that, the essential meaning of this is that something has snapped; ie a line was justly or unjustly crossed. Those who six years ago accused several ministers of “crossing the line” for writing a letter to the supreme leader, must now name those responsible for this.

The green movement, in its own wisdom and on the advice of Mr. Khatami, does not use the “death to …” chant. It is hoped that what was said today is the strongest slogan in the green movement’s psyche. The previous generation, during the protests leading to the revolution and the overthrowing of the monarchy, did not arrive at the famous “death to Shah” slogan for months. Even up to a month before the revolution ayatollah Khomeini had not said that the Shah must leave.

The acceleration of strong slogans today surpasses the influence of media outlets operating independently of the regime [the so-called foreign outlets]. But it most not be concluded that every movement and every protest inevitably arrives where the slogans point to; many movements are managed with wisdom to form the bases for cooperation and unity. The most recent instance is Afghanistan, where a fraudulent election took place. The candidates all spoke up and the main competitor protested and the world heard his voice. The issue was investigated. When the investigative committee said that the election was fraudulent Hamed Karzai accepted. That meant a second round. It was a large danger but there was no other option. And that easily he survived the crisis. Do not think that Karzai did not have people who told him to stand firm. On the other hand you had the Iranian decision making system. Iran was the only country that did not wait and congratulated Karzai. Perhaps it was suggesting the same response that was tried in Iran, meaning not accepting a real election. The supreme leader did not accept that there is an error in the system under the Guardian Council’s control. As a result, he tied his supreme leadership to Ahmadinejad’s presidency, because in private decision making sessions it was said that there is no end if you take one step back in front of them.

Today, however, the slogans showed that people seemed to have known all of this and to have deciphered the other party’s game, as they chanted slogans against Mr. Jannati. In my opinion this was of supreme importance. It communicated the depth and level of people’s understanding, that they really know where lies the source of the problem.

Even today there would be people to say in inner regime meetings that the victory was theirs, because “November 4 was celebrated in the presence of millions beholden to the regime, and the few hundreds of people who had come to the streets on the invitation of foreign media outlets were secluded thanks to the efforts of the Hezbollah.” That was the substance of the story broadcasted on the state radio and television.

A look at the government archives show that what was discussed in meetings of officials and military leaders up to one day prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution was no different than today. Another instance is Mohammad Sahhaf, Saddam’s propaganda minister, who continued to repeat what he had been saying for years even as American tanks had entered Baghdad. But it is obvious that the reality is different than what is portrayed in unrealistic bureaucratic reports. At the same time, however, reality is also not what was broadcast by international media networks, insinuating that millions of people in Tehran and large cities chanted opposition slogans. The reality is that whoever takes the risk in the present situation to voice his or her critical view represents thousands of Iranians who are remaining home and will come out at the appropriate time. That must be concerning.