Thursday, June 25, 2009

Still Watching Iran

The New York Times is giving outstanding coverage of the disputed elections in Iran on this blog, which I used extensively in my previous post.

Today, two interesting items were posted that relate to what I said earlier.

"Update 9:01 a.m. On The Guardian’s Web site, Matt Weaver addresses a problem that we discussed on The Lede on Wednesday night — that the Web is now flooded with video clips that have been given the wrong date by people uploading them to sites like YouTube and Facebook, and this is creating problems for journalists:
There are several Twitter messages urging citizens journalists in Iran to video copies of daily newspapers to help authenticate the date of what they film. That is easier said than done given how chaotic the scenes have been. But it highlights a growing problem on the coverage of this crisis. The media keeps being sent footage claiming to be recent when it turns out to have been filmed several days before.
Update 8:34 a.m. An Iranian-American reader of The Lede, who witnessed some of Wednesday’s opposition rally, wrote this morning in an e-mail message from Tehran that he has doubts about the account of yesterday’s events given to CNN in a telephone interview on Wednesday. According to our reader:
When I was over there at the quasi-rally I realized that the repression of protests have now mostly devolved into the standard Irish cop swinging his baton rhythmically and saying “nothing to see here folks.” That’s exactly what I saw. This stuff about shooting, tear gas, and even defenestration from a bridge that CNN reported … seems unlikely. Of course it could have happened but I don’t see the logic in it. These cops are tired — you can tell, and they’re not Lebanese either.
The reader adds: “The problem here is that, with the censorship, rumors become news fast,” and then, as they get passed on, “they get ‘telephoned’ into worse rumors.”


My guess is that much of this confused information is intentional by the diminishing opposition. Also, much of it reflects the lack of structure (and, therefore, the weakness) the opposition actually has. They are attempting to make the best case possible when, in fact, the oppressive regime in power has matters increasingly controlled via the Islamic state's media management and intimidation tactics.

Last night, on the PBS News Hour, Haleh Esfandiari of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars stated: "I think we will see the unrest continue, maybe diminished. But I think the face of Iran has changed. Something has broken in Iran. And I think the regime has to do something less drastic and more conciliatory."

I'm not sure the regime has to do anything less drastic. This is the theocratic state that, in fact, has a level of power beyond the reach of its "democratic" elements. That is the nature of any Islamic republic. Ultimately it is about the mullahs, not the people. The democracy is a myth.

But, if the fabric of Iranian society has been "changed" then perhaps we will see this matter re-emerge. Perhaps at the time of Ahmadinejad's second inauguration. Perhaps at the point the next election cycle starts - assuming, of course the "significant minority" that stole this election from the Iranian people allows another election.

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