Iran has been going through a political change. As to what extent, it is hard to say other than the fact there are some changes taking place. At the forefront is the Revolutionary Guard and how aggressive they have been at protecting and advancing the notion of a nuclear weaponized Iran. While it has been no secret, Iran is persuing nuclear weapons and they are open about their efforts and the actions they will take to achieve them.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) controlled Tehran with the help of tens of thousands of club-wielding street fighters shipped in from all over the country. Opposition marchers, confined to the northern part of the city, were locked into hit-and-run battles with the regime’s professional goons. An opposition attempt at storming the Evin Prison, where more than 3,000 dissidents are being tortured, did not materialize. The would-be liberators failed to break a ring of steel the IRGC threw around the sprawling compound.
With the Internet shut down and foreign radio broadcasts jammed, the regime imposed its own version of events. State television showed large crowds chanting “Death to America” while marching in front of giant portraits of the Supreme Leader.
And yet, despite all of this, Mr. Khamenei’s message thanking the pro-regime marchers after the “glorious events of the day” had a surprisingly subdued tone. He has reason to feel unhappy.
For the first time the regime had to transform Tehran into a sealed citadel with checkpoints at all points of entry. The IRGC was in total control. Code-named “Simorgh,” after a bird in Persian mythology, its operation created an atmosphere of war in the divided city. Warned that his life may be in danger, Mr. Khamenei was forced to watch the events on TV rather than take his usual personal tour.
To ensure control of Tehran, the regime had to abandon plans for celebrations in other parts of the country. Only 20% of Iranian towns and cities and less than 9% of villages had the privilege of marking the anniversary of the revolution.
The transformation of the Khomeinist regime from theological despotism into military dictatorship started almost a decade ago. And as a keen student of Islamic tradition, Mr. Khamenei must know that history is repeating itself.