Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Love of the Land: Military Mutiny in Iran?

Military Mutiny in Iran?

Afshin Ellian
12 December 09

Leading commentators and diplomats have been pondering for quite some time why the Iranian leader is not prepared to act against the revolution in a major way. The “China model” could be applied, a brutal, fast, and extremely violent strike against the opposition. According to conventional wisdom, tyrants will use all means to eliminate their opponents. So why haven’t the mullahs adopted Chinese methods?

Tanks and soldiers

Applied to the Islamic Republic of Iran, it means the following:

  • At a given time (e.g., around three o’clock in the morning) soldiers would raid the cities and arrest everybody suspected of even the slightest “green” revolutionary inclination.
  • All communications with the outside world would be temporarily shut down.
  • People would wake up with a statement by the leader proclaiming the definitive end of all demonstrations. Then thousands would be executed.

Speed and brutality are the key aspects of the China model. Why does Khamenei not activate this model?

This summer he did consider this, before he became ill. He even gave carte blanche for the arrest of opposition leader Mousavi. But Khamenei has subsequently stopped its implementation. Why? Because he had been told that this would provoke an explosion that would likely engulf him and his regime.

Revolutionary Guards

At the time, I also heard another reason, which, if true, would be the main reason. There are serious doubts about the military itself. The army and parts of the Revolutionary Guards (abbreviated as RG) would, under those circumstances, choose the side of the opposition and the people. The military power of Khamenei would be broken. This, however, was speculation without proof.

Now there is evidence to support it. On December 10, a statement signed by a number of officers and commanders of the Iranian army was released. The regular army of Iran had not been involved in the suppression of the population. The statement was signed by:

  • Pilots and personnel of the aviation division of the regular army (Havanirooz)
  • Commanders and personnel of the 31th artillery division of Isfahan of the regular army
  • Pilots and airmen of the regular army
  • Teachers of the Shaid Satari University of the regular air force
  • Officers and staff of the logistics training unit the regular army
  • Professors and lecturers of the Imam Ali University for officers of the regular army
  • Officers, staff, and commanders of the chief of staff of the regular army

What did these soldiers write?

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Afshin Ellian is a professor of law at Leiden University.

Love of the Land: Military Mutiny in Iran?

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