"Today, July 9, is the day the Iranian student movement has designated for national demonstrations against the regime, and a general strike in favor of democracy. Shaken by weeks of recent protests, and worried about the mounting criticism from several Western countries, the regime has taken unprecedented steps to head off a potential showdown with its own people:
- Thousands of political activists, students, and others, have been rounded up and packed into prisons, subjected to torture, and in some cases murdered.
- Children of parliamentarians have been summarily arrested, as have parents of Iranian democracy advocates living abroad.
- Great efforts have gone into ensuring that Iranians cannot communicate with one another, either by telephone (cells have been shut down) or radio or television (the U.S.-based independent radio and television stations have been reporting a new jamming campaign against their satellite broadcasts. As of late on the night of the 8th, it was impossible to isolate the source of the jamming). Satellite dishes have been torn down, and smashed in the streets.
- Ditto for the press. Journalists have been arrested, newspapers have been closed. In short, everything the regime could do to isolate the Iranian people from the outside world has been done.
- New security forces have been recruited. Lacking confidence in the willingness of Iranians to beat and kill their own, the regime has brought in Lebanese Hezbollahi, members of the Badr Brigades from Iraq (where they'd been dispatched as part of the 'insurgency' against American forces), the usual 'Afghan Arabs,' and, reportedly, Palestinian toughs. All reminiscent of the Chinese tactics in Tiananmen Square, where they imported soldiers from remote regions to suppress the pro-democracy uprising.
For those who believe that revolution is a test of will, and that a regime willing to use any amount of terror required to retain power will probably survive, these are at once ominous and encouraging signs. Ominous, because this regime does not appear ready to go quietly; encouraging, because the mullahs are not facing a handful of revolutionaries, but a mass movement. "
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