More on This Round of Iran Protests

Further to today’s post about allegations the Iran protests are a redneck affair, @borzou tweets video of the provincials’ big city cousins showing up for the game tonight:

This Round of Iran Protests

This morning both Mary Dejevski in The Independent and Borzou Daragahi in Buzzfeed point out an apparently deep and wide cleavage between the poorer, rural Iranians leading this round of protests and the urban middle-class. Daragahi:

“The middle class in Iran are educated and experienced enough to understand who is who in this theater,” said the editor of a centrist Tehran newspaper close to the leadership,”

suggesting urban condescension for the protesting rural cadres. He writes that urbanites “derided the protesters as ‘tribal’ small-town folks; they’re burning police stations and attacking security forces, they said, not out of political considerations but to settle rural vendettas.”

Dejevsky confirms the condescension, remembering how a relative, once resident in Teheran,

“despaired of the impracticality of many of the new educated middle class, their condescension as she saw it towards their uneducated compatriots.”

Other than compiling video clips of protests, as Daraghani does on Twitter @borzou,  neither seems to have a well-developed line of communication outside the urban “fast set” in Teheran.


In the last day or so the number of demonstrations appears to have dropped, but as we learned in the 2009 protests, and indeed throughout the neighboring “Arab Spring,” we’re never far from a Friday, the holy day, a day off on which things can flare up again.

I defer to both Dejevsky and Borzou, and anybody else who has actually been to Iran. The closest I’ve ever come was on this Qatar Airways flight. All I can say from first-hand experience is that southwest Iran is very dry and not very populated.


Chekov’s Gun


Imagine last Sunday as screenplay:

Fade up as a massive C-130 cargo plane thunders overhead. Aboard is the lead negotiator in fraught talks with a longtime American adversary. There are exactly thirty days until the deadline for a nuclear deal that the President of the United States seeks as his legacy. The negotiator, who is also the Secretary of State, is being airlifted home for surgery after an accident. Blue emergency lights and that two-tone European ambulance wail, and fade to black.

Fade up on muted yellow lights and low, mournful music. It is the very same day in Washington, and the president’s second in command is laid low, gut-punched with bereavement over the death of his son. In the movie it is clear the Vice President of the United States, in his grief, will be incommunicado for days.

A cacophony erupts as the gauzy yellow at the Vice Presidential residence becomes the yellow of midnight oil burning at the United States Capitol building where the Senate, in rancorous, extraordinary Sunday session, debates whether it has unilaterally compromised American national security and laid the United States open to enemy attack. It is still the very same day. Which could only happen in the movies.


Sure it’s all a coincidence but it makes me uneasy. If the events of Sunday, 31 May were a movie, by the end of Act One Chekov’s gun would lie squarely in the center of the table. Something “no one could have foreseen” would be about to occur.

It Doesn’t Add Up

The future of the president’s new strategy is fraught. Let’s see what the analysts say, but three first thoughts:

  • I’d like to think the president wouldn’t allow himself to escalate “just 475 soldiers at a time.” We know how that ends. But eventually an American pilot will be shot out of the sky. Mr. Obama was mocked about his toughness after the Syrian red line debacle and now, after these beheadings, goaded into trotting out America’s old air campaign trick that even he flatly acknowledges won’t be sufficient.
  • He has now declared a new American goal – to ultimately ‘defeat’ ISIS  – but plans to rely on untrusting and untrusted allies to accomplish it. After the U.S.-built Iraqi army version 1.0 turned and ran from ISIS, we now propose to push in front of us version 2.0, made up in significant part of Iranian-backed Shiite troops. These may be the only people northern Iraqi Sunnis detest more than ISIS.
  • Shame on the usual suspects for inciting Americans into another air campaign in the same part of the world where we seem incapable of remembering even recently learned lessons.

It doesn’t add up. There are too many needles that won’t be threaded here. More later.