Thursday, June 25, 2009

If Ahmadinejad Is Able To Put Down The Protests--This Is Why (3 Updates)

Is the Iran regime beginning to succeed in squelching the protests? That is the implication of Andrew Sullivan's post:
Despite the tweets below, so far there's no sign of the rally hoped for yesterday. It may be that the violence - and the ability of the junta to prevent any large crowds gathering - has prevented it from happening. The frequency of tweets has also decreased as the junta slowly strangles the ability of Iranians to communicate with one another
If the regime is successful, it will be because Ahmadinejad has put together an organization that would make Chicago politics proud:
Mr. Ahmadinejad has filled crucial ministries and other top posts with close friends and allies who have spread ideological and operational support for him nationwide. These analysts estimate that he has replaced 10,000 government employees to cement his loyalists through the bureaucracies, so that his allies run the organizations responsible for both the contested election returns and the official organs that have endorsed them.

“There is a whole political establishment that emerged with Ahmadinejad, which is now determined to hold on to power undemocratically,” said one American-based Iran analyst, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of his work in Iran. “Their ability to resist the outcome of the election means they have a broad base as a political establishment.” [emphasis added]
With his influence so firmly entrenched, Ahmadinejad is actually not that much different than any other dictator intent on holding onto power indefinitely:
Mr. Ahmadinejad has also changed all 30 of the country’s governors, all the city managers and even third- and fourth-level civil servants in important ministries like the Interior Ministry. It was Interior that announced that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won the June 12 election with just 5 percent of the votes counted, analysts pointed out, and it is the Intelligence Ministry that has been rounding up scores of supporters of the reform candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, and other dissidents.
No wonder Chavez and Ahmadinejad get along so well together--imagine the stories they must tell each other!

UPDATE: If this account is accurate, it would be one more reason why the protests are in trouble:
State media on Wednesday said that Mohsen Rezaie, one of three presidential candidates who had disputed the June 12 polls, was withdrawing his complaints to authorities. Mr. Rezaie, a former commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards military force, made waves when he entered the race. The hard-line conservative was seen as targeting Mr. Ahmadinejad's core constituency, challenging the incumbent by charging economic mismanagement and foreign-policy adventurism. But Mr. Rezaie garnered less than 2% of the vote, according to official results.

He initially joined with former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi immediately after the vote in alleging widespread vote-rigging. The three candidates registered more than 600 allegations of irregularities.

But on Wednesday, Mr. Rezaie was quoted as citing national security in dropping his complaint filed with the Guardian Council, a top clerical review board that oversees elections. He also said there was too little time to probe the complaints thoroughly.

...Mr. Rezaie's background, and his initial willingness to stand with Messrs. Mousavi and Karroubi in challenging the vote, lent the opposition a sense that it was representing a broad swath of Iran's political spectrum.

UPDATE: The Washington Post's Hope Fades but Anger Is Alive as Iran's Rulers Crack Down, does not paint an optimistic picture. It has interviews with a number of protesters and contrasts their original hopes with their reaction to the realities.

UPDATE: The Lede offers an explanation for today's quiet, despite the fact there was supposed to be another protest today:

Update | 3:12 p.m. An Iranian-American reader of The Lede who has been writing to us from Tehran says that Enghelab Square in central Tehran “today was real quiet.” According to messages posted online on Wednesday night, Enghelab was to have been the site of a protest on Thursday. Our reader notes that the city was possibly quiet on Thursday “today and tomorrow is the concur [national exam] — the huge test that every kid takes at the end of high school.”

We'll find out soon enought if that is the reason--though it's a stretch to say high school students have been the backbone of the protests.

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