Posts Tagged ‘40th’


Today’s game is a game of fear and rage

July 30, 2009

In just a few hours, the people of Tehran will be commemorating the 40th day of the killing of Neda Aghasoltan and others who died in the protests that day.  The stakes are very high for both sides. If the government plays its cards right, it hopes that it could put an end to the post election unrest.  The leaders of the green movement, however, need this opportunity to escalate matters.  Here are some factors to consider:  The government wants to instill as much fear in the greens as possible without making them excessively angry.  A rational person properly frightened will retreat.  However if the government goes overboard, as it did in the previous weeks, it will instill rage in the opposition.  A person with sufficient rage can easily get out of control, and then take away control.  The ideal scenario for the government is a strong show of police presence that would deter protestors from clashing with the police — non-violence on all sides due to fear of the police.  Many people would see the police and go home; others would march a bit, express their frustrations, and then go home.  End of story.  If large numbers of people show up, a non-violent protest may also be enough for the greens.  However, if fear keeps the huge masses at home, then the smaller crowds will need to do something, whatever it may be, to cause the rage in people’s hearts to increase. 

The revolutionaries of 1978 used the 40 day commemorations as a way to escalate their fight by increasing the rage in the people.  In each 40 day cycle, more people would go to the streets in commemoration, there would be more clashes with the security forces, and more people would get killed.  And then, 40 days later the same would happen again resulting in more deaths, more rage and an even harder resolve.  Khamenei knows that he needs to break this cycle.  A report is circulating claiming that he has ordered the security forces not to clash with the protestors.  If this is true, and if the protesters remain non-violent, then this may be the end of the violence, if not the protests.  However, if the protests are small (the fear has worked and the masses have stayed home), the opposition needs something to heat up the rage.  They may have snipers that will shoot some protesters to create the rage, or start violence by burning vehicles and attacking buildings to force the security forces into a confrontation, creating more martyrs and therefore building more rage in their supporters.

The report on Khamenei’s order may be created by the opposition.  It may have been circulated by them to remove people’s fears, so they would come out in large numbers to the streets.  We will know in a few hours if the report is fake or not, if violence will escalate matters or a peaceful protest would result.