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Iranian Protestors Fighting Back?

A couple days ago, I wrote a post about what I was looking to see in Iran:

For a revolution to succeed, it generally needs one of two things to happen: Either it needs its own weapons, or it needs mass defections by the state security forces.

Not the most original insight, I know. Anyway, today Steve Clemons posts an account that suggests some of both may be happening:

By the way, two nights ago I went out to see a few things ... as the general crowds spread into their homes militia style Mousavi supporters were out on the streets 'Basiji hunting'.

Their resolve is no less than these thugs -- they after hunting them down. They use their phones, their childhood friends, their intimate knowledge of their districts and neighbours to plan their attacks -- they're organised and they're supported by their community so they have little fear. They create the havoc they're after, ambush the thugs, use their Cocktail Molotovs, disperse and re-assemble elsewhere and then start again - and the door of every house is open to them as safe harbour -- they're community-connected.

The Basiji's are not.

These are not the students in the dorms, they're the street young -- they know the ways better than most thugs - and these young, a surprising number of them girls, are becoming more agile in their ways as each night passes on.

Also, with $10K every local police station lock can be broken and guns taken out...the police too are crowd friendly...for sure put a gun in their hands and these young become a serious counter-balance to the them 10% of 18-22 year olds - that makes circa 10 million around the country versus max 4 million Basijis.

For all I've seen, discussed and observed on the ground I wouldn't dismiss option (4) too easily.

The best thing would be a bloodless revolution, but the presence of the Basij (explained well by the New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson) would seem to complicate matters. It seems like both sides are trying to avoid violence during mass daylight marches, but the Basij are beating and murdering people at night and in places where they can't be seen. I think, realistically, the protestors have to retaliate in kind, and it's encouraging to hear that they may have the means to do so.

--Jonathan Chait