Monday, May 9, 2011

A slow motion implosion

Could that be what is happening to the Iranian government?
In the increasing tension between Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, supporters of each faction, who have been drawing lines in the sand for the past few days claiming that there will be blood, took their disputes to the streets of Tehran.
According to reports from Iran, serious clashes between the rank and file supporters of Khamenei and the supporters of Ahmadinejad erupted on Saturday. Many were severely injured with clubs and machetes. The clashes are said to have been so fierce that the security guards did not intervene and stood aside, watching the brawl.
The routes leading into the Imam Hossein Square and Enghelab Avenue were blocked by the special forces. Civilians were not permitted to enter or exit those city blocks with their cars. The entire area was filled with anti-riot police, plain clothes agents and members of the Basij militia, and although one could not tell the difference between the supporters of Khamenei and the supporters of Ahmadinejad, they themselves could tell each other apart!
Most of the combatants wore black and traveled as a mob on motorcycles. They went from one section to another, hollering and yelling.
In various parts of the area, blood was visible on the street and sidewalks.
The streets of Tehran, especially the western and central parts, are also said to be chaotic. Members of the Basij militia continue to patrol throughout the city and Revolutionary Guards elements are firmly ensconced in many major squares.
Reportedly, a large number of the Vali’eh Amr (supreme leader’s) revolutionary forces are situated on Pasteur Avenue and have surrounded the Shaheed Mottahari Complex where both the supreme leader’s and Ahmadinejad’s offices are located.
Clerical assemblies located in the Naarmak area of Tehran, which serve as funeral homes, have been turned into a military barracks and members of both gangs are said to be intently occupying the neighborhood.
There is no accurate information on the number of injured and killed during the clashes by the two regime factions and so far none of the governmental sites have reported or acknowledged this incident.
The amount of security in Ahmadinejad’s residential area, Naarmak, has quite noticeably increased.
Also earlier today during Tehran’s book fair, the two factions, pro-Ahmadinejad and pro-supreme leader, brawled while security guards stood aside and did nothing. Many were injured.
The identified causes of this rift are at least twofold.  First, Ahmadinejad and Khameini are fighting over, as one sharp commenter put it, licensing and merchandising rights for the Mahdi, which is actually close to the truth.  Second, and probably more importantly, they are fighting over control of the Intelligence Ministry.

So, what does it mean? As usual, Michael Ledeen has the best take. Key grafs:
So now the Ahmadinejad people and the Khamenei people are fighting it out in the streets of Tehran, as Reza tells us.  Those who have followed this blog for some time will recognize it as the latest phase in what I call “The War of the Persian Succession,” a nasty fight over who will be the next Supreme Leader of Iran, after the passing of Khamenei.
I think it is unlikely that one “faction” will definitively prevail over the other.  The leader and the president are siamese twins, fused at a vital part of their anatomies, and separation might well be fatal to both.  Each  has weapons aimed at the other’s heart, and the weapons consist of information of massive fraud and theft.
What should the US do?
We have heard a lot of verbiage from Obama and his moralistic Valkyries ever since they bragged of saving our national soul by preventing mass murder in Libya.  Remember?  There was even a doctrine according to which America could and would not stand by while a tyrannical regime slaughtered innocent civilians seeking freedom.  If there ever was such a doctrine, it has long since become a laughing stock.  We stand by as Syria and Iran — totalitarian and barbaric regimes that kill their own as well as our own — conduct precisely the sort of mass murder we claimed we would not tolerate.
Members of Congress — who busy themselves with laudable bills calling for support of the Iranian people and the Syrians as well — should be unstinting in their insistence that America call for the overthrow of Assad and Khamenei/Ahmadinejad.  Never mind doctrines.  Just say it:  Assad must go.  Khamenei and Ahmadinejad must go.  Now.

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