The characterization of the events in Iran does not differ much from the characterization of what happened in Syria, so it is okay to summarize. Here too, the scenes are straight out of a movie. Indeed, the images and clips being recorded and shared by Iranian protests aim to document the flood in the Supreme Leader’s country, which is as important as the documentation in the famous movie ‘A Flood in Baath Country’ directed by the late Syrian director Omar Amiralay.
Because Baathism is no more an Arab or Mediterranean monopolism, Iranian Baathism has for decades monopolized the state, the authority, art, and sports, and seems today incapable of monopolizing the whole scene or impose a script and subdue the actors or pick the directors.
The flood in the Supreme Leader’s country is more significant than a director and actor who rebelled, refusing to be silent witnesses and athletes sending an eloquent message with their silence. They told the world that the national anthem no longer represents the Iranian nation, only the regime. They are like the women who refused to have the veil imposed on them and the students who refused to have their freedoms undermined. Poor quality of life is their common grievance, and they share it with the Kurdish, Baluchi, Arab, and Lari communities, who are discriminated against because of ethnic, sectarian, and regional reasons. They are also like the peasants from Qazvin, Khorasan, and Kerman, who had sacrificed and accepted the little they had. The authorities could not tolerate their limited demands and pursuit of a decent life. They all represent an Iran that has lost the present and is in danger of squandering its future.
Iran now is young men and women, students, peasants, workers, teachers, artists, fathers and mothers. They have declared a revolt, defiance or protest that has become like a flood, not in its size but in its significance. Everyone in Iran opposes this regime and its people. The majority is now in opposition to a ruling minority that is willing to take risks, use violence, and spill blood but not to listen or make brave concessions. It is as though the Baath disease has entered its body. Indeed, it knows that its makeup renders reforms and concessions to the people impossible. Reforming the Baath, be it Arab or Iranian, is digging its grave.
The regime cannot defend its legitimacy or maintain it by sending armed troops to poor cities and towns in Kurdistan, Balochistan, and Ahwaz. It cannot convince the Iranian people, regardless of their ethnicity or sect, to have confidence in the regime that kills and represses them. Those guarding the homeland, the state, and the revolution- as they see it anyway- are now in need of forces to protect the regime as it wages war on the streets of Mahabad, Piranshahr, Javanrud, Kermanshah, Zahedan, Ahwaz, and Khorramshahr.
The regime cannot shoot peaceful protesters in the squares and streets of Shiraz, Tabriz, Isfahan, and Tehran and expect to retain support. Given the insistence of the protesters and the stubbornness of the regime, Iran is likely to go from chaos to civil war. The warning of Ahmad Montazeri, the son of one of the founding fathers of the Islamic regime, the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, that Iran is facing the threat of civil war if things continue along this path, is perhaps the clearest explanation of what is happening.
The protesters are becoming more cohesive as the flood grows bigger three months on from when it first arose, leaving the regime increasingly confused… Its confusion has pushed it to bet on a divide-and-conquer strategy. It has been sowing class and regional disputes to divide the Iranian people in the hope that this creates schisms among the protesters. Or it believes that repressing one group extremely violently could deter others and compel them to reconsider.
However, what the spiritual leader of Balochistan, Mullah Abdolhamid Ismaeelzahi, said about the Kurds, asserting that they have endured discrimination in Iraq, sectarian pressures, and poverty and that firing at them with live bullets is unjust, demonstrates that this is a losing bet.
Going back to the start, the parallels between the flood of Omar Amiralay and its Iranian twin, are many. The scenes being recorded by the protests demonstrate the state of Iran under the rule of the Supreme Leader, just like Amiralay documented the flood of suffering under the rule of the two Assads.