The Swan Song of the Islamic Republic

Whatever happens from this point on, nothing will ever be the same in Tehran.
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Whatever happens from this point on, nothing will ever be the same in Tehran.

Whatever happens, if the protest gains momentum or loses steam, if it ends up prevailing or if the regime succeeds in terrorizing it, he who should now only be called president-non-elect Ahmadinejad will only be an ersatz, illegitimate, weakened president.

Whatever happens, whatever the result of this crisis provoked two weeks ago by the enormity of a fraud that serious-minded people can no longer doubt, no Iranian leader can appear on the global scene, or in any negotiation with Obama, Sarkozy, or Merkel, without being haloed, not by the nimbus of light dreamed of by Ahmadinejad in his 2005 speech to the United Nations, but by the cloud of sulphur that crowns cheaters and butchers.

Whatever happens, the Ayatollah Khamenei, Khomeini's successor and Supreme Leader of the regime, tutelary authority of the President, father of the people, will have lost his role as arbiter, will have shamelessly sided with one faction over the others, and will have therefore lost what remained of his authority: "Only God knows my vote," he carefully replied four years ago to those who were already calling upon him to denounce the fraud--"in the name of merciful God, I armor, I hammer, and I dissolve the people," he has responded this time to the naïve who believed he was there to uphold the Constitution.

Whatever happens, the block of ayatollahs who had always succeeded in maintaining a united front, whatever their differences and divergent interests, will have put their ferocious divisions on display: the ones behind Khamenei, approving of the decision to crush the movement with blood; the others, like the ex-President Rafsanjani, leader of the very powerful Assembly of Experts, warning that if the wave of protests were not taken seriously, veritable "volcanoes" of anger would erupt. Others still like the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri who, since his house arrest in Qom, has been calling for a recount and for national mourning for the victims of the repression; and without mentioning the leading religious experts of the "Office of Theological Seminaries" who no longer fear proposing the possibility--what passed for heresy not long ago--of Khamenei's resignation and of his replacement by a "Guidance Council."

Whatever happens, and beyond these internal conflicts, the people will be dissociated from an anemic and fatally wounded regime.

Whatever happens, young people, who were believed to be enthralled by the principles of political Islam and who a month ago, upon Ahmadinejad's return from Geneva, had supposedly planned a triumphal reception for the president-non-elect, will have said, loud and proud, with an audacity matched only by their political intelligence, that this president shamed them.

Whatever happens, there will be in Tehran, Tabriz, Ispahan, Zahedan, and Ardebil, millions of young people who in a matter of a few days will have become, like the timid Mousavi, in a sense larger than themselves--and will have understood that they could, with their bare hands, without provocation or violence, keep a power at bay.

Whatever happens, this extraordinary event--which is a miracle, as a popular uprising always is, and which was endowed under this circumstance with the blind mimetism and un-self-consciousness that is peculiar to the Angel of History when it thinks it is going forward, but is actually looking backward--will seem to have reproduced topsy-turvy the very scene in the same streets, surrounding the same barracks and the same shops, that was described thirty years ago by Michel Foucault, who never imagined that the real revolution was still to come, and that it would be the exact opposite of what he described.

Whatever happens, the people know, from this point on, that they are the people and that there is not a regime on earth that can remain in power against the people.

Whatever happens, a body politic has been formed in the heat of peaceful protests--and even if it gets winded and loses steam, even if the murderers think they can declare victory, there is a new actor onstage, without whom the rest of this country's story will not be written.

Whatever happens, the beautiful face of Neda Soltan, killed at point-blank range last Saturday by a Bassidj henchman, the images of kids beaten to death by the attack squadron and motorcycle infantry of the guardians of the revolution, the videos of the enormous protests, impressively calm and dignified, will have, via Twitter, circled both the cyberplanet and the planet.

Whatever happens, the emperor has no clothes.

Whatever happens, the regime of the ayatollahs is, in the greater or lesser long term, condemned to compromise or disappear.

We always forget that the other revolution--the first, which, 30 years ago, put this Iranian-style National Socialism into power--lasted almost a year: why would it be any different for this revolution, a democratic one concerned with what's right, which has also just taken the stage? The earth quakes in Tehran, and it is only, I'm willing to bet, the beginning.Please click here to hear my reading of this post live.

Translated from French by Sara Phenix.

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