Regimes like the Islamic Republic of Iran, which base their survival on fear and intimidation, constantly face the danger of that elusive moment when suddenly the once intimidated masses lose their fear. The Iranian people, three-fifths of whom are under the age of 30, and more than 30 million of whom are connected to the Internet, are clearly searching for that moment, and testing the limits of the security forces’ fealty to the current regime. The recent report that some commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have, in the last week, written a letter to their superiors indicating an unwillingness to shoot at the people is, if true, the first credible crack in the pillars of the regime’s apparatus of operation. Other parts of the security apparatus—the Artesh (or military) and the police—have already shown signs of unwillingness to participate in the murder of their fellow citizens. It is also not clear how many of the hundreds of thousands of basijis—gangs-cum-militia—who joined that organization primarily to benefit from the “perks” of membership, will kill their neighbors or family. And the fact that the powerful Ayatollah Rafsanjani, in spite of increasing pressure on him to clearly side with Khamenei, has still refused to do so further indicates the depth of the fissures within the clerical establishment.
(photo credit: Anthony Posey)