Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is Iran in the middle of a civil war?

This past Monday I mentioned a rather odd explosion in Iran that was either at an ammunition depot or a missile base.  As if walking right out of an old beer commercial, Michael Ledeen says, "How 'bout both?"
This past weekend’s monster explosion at a Revolutionary Guards base outside Tehran has attracted the usual assortment of speculation and “informed information,” most of it sucked from the thumbs of pundits who feel they must write quickly.  There is still a scarcity of hard information, but I’m reasonably confident that:
–There were two explosions at the RG base at Bidganeh, one smaller, the other very large.
–At almost the same time, there was an explosion at another military base in the west, in Luristan.  The explosions seem to have been coordinated.
–The area around Bigdaneh is a military zone, with various facilities including two air fields, thus questions like “was it a munitions depot or a missile base?” are best answered “yes. Both.”
He goes on the explain the possible significance of the explosions and their aftermath:
These attacks on the Guards — the symbol of the regime’s intensifying repression and slaughter of the Iranian people — are part of a pattern that includes explosions at refineries and pipelines. At the same time, strikes have been spreading (and no wonder;  up to 30,000 retired teachers have been waiting for their pensions for many months).  In short, people have lost patience, and the smaller of the two explosions at the RG base was aimed at Major General Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam, one of the most brutal of the country’s military leaders.
Contrary to the inevitable suspicions of the thumb-suckers (the Americans did it!  no, the Israelis did it!  no, it was an accident!), the operation was planned and carried out by Iranians from the opposition-that-does-not-exist.  They intended to demonstrate that no leader is safe from the people’s wrath (if that base can be penetrated, any place can, and if that man can be assassinated, anyone can), and that the opposition knows its gravediggers.
The second, larger, explosion was not planned, nor was the extremely high number of casualties (I am told that hundreds of people, including some “very important foreign dignitaries,” were blown up).  That second blast was apparently from a quantity of liquid fuel designed to extend the speed and accuracy of Iran’s Shahab-3 missile, the one the mullahs hope will some day carry a nuclear warhead.  My sources claim that the fuel caused the big white plume seen in the photographs.  The cloud may well have caused respiratory problems for the survivors.
There is another, fascinating report, that right after the explosions, the two main Green Movement leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, were taken from house arrest, leaving their wives behind.  This bespeaks a high level of anxiety within the regime, suggesting that they feared an all-out assault was under way, and under those circumstances they would take vengeance on the two Green leaders.  Whether or not the rumor is true, its existence suggests that Khamenei et. al. take a more serious view of the opposition than some of our own expert analysts.
What this all means is clear enough.  As I forecast some time ago, it was only a matter of time until the opposition abandoned its commitment to non-violence.  We are now in a new phase.  A French analyst, Jean-Jacques Guillet, understands the situation very well, and has called for a Western policy to intensify the pressure on the Iranian regime in order to bring it down.  “If we press the regime strongly,” he said, “there could be an implosion. The real objective these days should be the regime’s implosion, not more talk.”
It sounds bad to say this, but the Iranian opposition entering a violent phase is actually a good thing.  Like pacifism in opposition to a warlord, non-violent opposition to a regime that is as brutal as that of the mullahs' and is quite happy to practice that brutality on its disobedient subjects simply will not work.

With newly-violent opposition, the chances of toppling the biggest enemy of the United States and, indeed, of all free people today just increased exponentially.  We should do what we can do give 'em a shove.  Not that this president actually will.

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