Iranian opposition leaders canceled protests planned for Friday in Tehran, as the regime deployed large numbers of anti-riot troops and plainclothes gangs on motorcycles at key intersections around the city.
A cell phone video obtained by former Revolutionary Guards officer Reza Kahlili on Thursday reveals the massive show of force by the regime. In the short video, hundreds of motorcycles can be seen parked at one of the rallying points of previous mass demonstrations in Tehran.
|Protests in Iran
Plainclothes agents can be seen milling around in large groups near the motorcycles. In previous demonstrations, armed thugs on motorcycles have shot protesters as they herded herded them away from major squares.
On Friday, regime agents reportedly arrested opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and took them to a secret prison. According to Twitter messages posted from Tehran, the regime agents also arrested both men’s wives and other family members.
Last week, regime security forces blockaded the houses of both leaders after pro-Ahmadinejad members of parliament called for them to be arrested, tried, and executed for treason.
Organizers of the Green movement, based abroad, said on Thursday they were calling for “Tuesdays of protest” for the next several weeks, as a means of keeping their protest movement alive despite the regime’s heavyhanded security crackdown.
Dozens of students and suspected protest leaders have been arrested in recent days, including Hassan Younesi, the son of a former intelligence minister during the reformist presidency of Mohammad Khatami.
The state-run Raja News website reported that he was detained for “provocative conduct” for his involvement in organizing a march scheduled for Feb. 20.
Roozbeh Farahanipour, who was a key organizer of student protests in July 1999, and now heads the Marze Por Gohar (MPG) party from exile in Los Angeles, tells Newsmax that the current strategy of the opposition is not to hold mass demonstrations, but to engage in hit-and-run tactics to avoid the security forces.
“Iran isn’t Egypt,” he said. “Our strategy isn’t to stay out in the street” where the regime forces can round up protesters and arrest them.
Workers at the Abadan oil refinery in southwestern Iran have been on strike since Feb. 15, according to Rooz-online, a website run by the family of former president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who has supported the reform movement.
Given that Iran derives more than 80 percent of its income from oil, labor action within the oil industry has the potential of causing major damage to the regime. An oil field workers strike in 1978 helped spark the revolution that brought down Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979.
Reza Kahlili, who wrote "A Time to Betray," a memoire of his years as a secret CIA spy inside the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, tells Newsmax that the Obama administration must shift gears quickly if it wants to have any positive impact on events inside Iran.
“The Obama administration must now realize that both negotiation and sanctions paths have failed and that it will not stop Iran from its pursuit of the nuclear bomb,” he said. “President Obama should now focus on supporting the Iranian people’s aspiration for freedom and democracy and help them bring change in Iran.”
Iran has engaged in an unprecedented campaign of executions since the beginning of the year, with more than 60 executions so far. Many of the victims have been Iranian Kurdish activists accused of being members of the Free Life Party of Iranian Kurdistan, PJAK.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has claimed recently that Iran was responsible for the wave of protests that has swept through Tunisia, Egypt, and more recently Libya, and that they will next reach Europe and North America. He claims the protests were directed by the 12th Imam, an Islamic messianic figure whom he believes will return in the end times to usher in the victory of Islam over all the world’s religions.
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