Sunday, June 21, 2009

Iran: Preparing for the Aftermath

New and old media report violent suppressions in Iran at this time. How this will turn out depends on the bureaucratic analysis I presented in the previous article: The Reformers need the Iranian Army on their side. The reformers have already lost this round, but the Army might still come in to minimize the bloodshed. In this article, I will explore what we, the US, can do to minimize the humanitarian disaster likely to follow, because that is all we can do now. I will also explore how the Iranian Army might help the protesters.

About the only action we can take right now, is to set up refugee camps for the current-protester, future fugitives, on the run from the authorities. Obviously we cannot invade Iran to set up these camps, but we can do so in Iraqi Kurdistan and in Afghanistan. As Kurdistan has a history of supporting Iranian dissident movements, they are a natural ally. Afghanistan's western provinces have a large Persian population, so that is an ideal site as well.

As the Revolutionary Guards have started fighting the people, we have moved past the opportunity window for enacting the policies I laid out in my previous post. Now we can go on with our democracy talk. A Persian Voice of America should start broadcasting. We should also convince the EU to join our economic embargo against Iran. We can still set up an embassy in Tehran, but the embassy's mission is not to normalize relation with the regime, but rather to provide books and media to the Iranian people through its on-site library and cultural programs.

Arming the dissidents and training them is not an option, though. As I said before, if the 2nd Iranian Revolution is to succeed, it needs the Iranian Army's backing. Our arming the dissidents would erase the maneuvering space for the Iranian Army. Besides, there are plenty of light weapons available in Iraqi markets if the dissidents are looking for guns.

Possible Outcomes of Current Clashes

It is still possible that the Iranian Army will come to the aide of the people. However, the Army cannot openly side against the Guardian Council. The Army could unilaterally move into the cities to "assist" the Basij's riot control efforts. Infantry units could race ahead of the Basij to take control of the streets. Then, they can turn the Basij away and shelter the dissidents.

Another possibility is to send in the medical units to set up mobile hospitals or to beef up the current hospitals. Obviously, because of the dangerous rioters, the Army doctors need their own Army escorts as well, to secure the hospitals. The militarization of the hospitals would also protect the patients from all intruders.

If the Army had a military exercise right outside Tehran, they could create a sanctuary from the Basij.

So these are some possible, low profile ways for the Army to rein in the excesses of the Revolutionary Guards and minimize the bloodshed. Hopefully the Iranian Army has enough bureaucratic latitude to carry them out.

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