Game of Silence

The third day of the unrest in Iran was striking. Here are some reasons why:

  • With the state-called rally on the streets, a major offensive with face-to-face clashes and a stronger presence of plain-clothes forces looked more promising. It did happen.
  • Tehran finally rose up. The nation’s capital, as expected, faced turmoil around the University: the edifice, that eversince it was constructed, has undoubtedly been one of the main witnesses to any political rally Iran has been through. However, the unrest was not solely bound to the University and other prominent plazas in Tehran faced demonstrators and clashes between security forces and demonstrators.
  • As stated in yesterday’s account lots of small towns are involved in this stream of protests. Several small towns joined the protests for the first time today; some proved pivotal.
  • With participants spread more widely across the nation, the atrocities augmented visibly. There came to be more unrest on the street, more sabotage against private financial instutions (which have recently turned into an embodiment of economic corruption) and state buildings such as Governor’s buildings or the Friday Imam offices (an official elected directly by the Iranian SL) More clashes were witnessed between people and the security forces.
  • Higher number of arrests were reported. This included random protestors on the streets and some prominent political activists whererver they were captured. In certain parts of the country people were visibly shot and sometimes killed. The number of victims is reported to be four by the time of this writing.
  • Some activists associated with the reformers’ side finally broke their silence over the past days; the general tendency among them does not seem to be bright. It is often stated by the reformers that the uprisings are guided by two forces: the hardliner domestic opposition and the foreign-based opposition forces (mainly MEK and The Monarchists i.e. the supporters of the former King) They do admit that the country is not being run well and they accept the problems to a certain extent. Reformirsts apparently are reluctant to accepting the fact that people can rise up and take their own stand regardless of the position of the reformist leaders (who have usually played a clear role in conducting popular offensives against the hardliners.) Moreover, the demonstrations are clearly aiming at the very reformers as well; so the raison d’etre of this reluctance might after all be more clear.
  • Despite the reformist political activists, the officials have kept a remarkably low profile, denying the simplest statements. The SL is also on the same run. However, there were few occasions where Donald Trump and other American officials, who have tried to demonstrate solidarity with the protestors, have been condemned.
  • The protests have not been exposed enough by certain news outlets; these include CNN, NYTimes and WaPo. It sounds disappointing that there seems to be a dichotomy between conservatives and liberals regarding this issue; so as once they are covered (and endorsed) by the conservatives, liberals don’t feel the need to shed any light on it.
  • The protests were to a clear extent organized on Telegram . One specific channel on Telegram, which was referred to by the demonstrators quite a lot both as a news-outlet and as a means to organize the forthcoming steps, turned to be the hot topic in an exchange between Azari Jahromi (Iranian Minister of Communication) and Durov (Telegram CEO) on Twitter. The Iranian minister asked Telegram CEO to block the channel due to the promotion of violence. With Durov’s statement about eventual controls, the channel was removed from Telegram servers and its second attempt to create a new channel proved to be a failure as well because according to Durov “the second channel was a mirror of the first one.”
  • The Internet was down for a couple of hours in certain zones of Tehran, while the National Security Assembly, presided by Hassan Rouhani, was having a meeting in which a permanent shut-down for Telegram was discussed but it was later denied which could presumably be due to the Iranian officials’ request granted by Durov.

The protests have taken a pace which is beyond expectation; whether the demands they are seeking, or the way they are spreading across the nation, these protests are significantly different with what has been witnessed in 2009 after the elections. Some certain pieces of this puzzle are still missing; Rouhani & co. must speak up, progress of the protests must be viewed in the coming days and the SL needs to have a say. That could be the point where each side can decide for their next round of moves.

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