What If Azadi Had Been Tahrir?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 20 2011 @ 3:52pm

A reader with family in Iran reflects on the anniversary:

The economy is in really bad shape, at least as far as my family is concerned. Now that the Iranian government cut so many subsidies, especially the gas one – everything else in Iran has increased in price quite dramatically. Even though Iran is oil rich, gas is as expensive there as it is in Europe. The cost of food staples like bread and meat 6a00d83451c45669e20115703910c8970c-320wi (currently about $16/kilo) are way up. Salaries are down. The working class is getting its ass kicked – even some people employed by the government went unpaid for many months. Sales in my mother-in-law’s fashion boutique are way down over the past year, and my brother-in-law, who is a businessman, says sanctions are not just hitting the elites, but making business harder for everyone.

The other thing I personally think is so important looking at how we in the West handled that story, is what it started in how seriously we now take social media as a primary source, even if a flawed one. Yes all the Twitter Revolution stuff was mostly bullshit and too-good-to-be-true stories like Austin Heap turned out to be a fraud, but something started that summer that resulted in someone like Andy Carvin having a brand new position in journalism. It did turn citizen journalism, or rather citizen international journalism, on its head – and we have been reaping the rewards since.

Finally, one of the things I’ve wondered is could the green movement protesters have won if they had not just silently marched to Azadi Square the week after the election, but occupied it and held it the way the Egyptians held Tahrir.

In the end, my feeling is that obviously the govt could have opened fire like the Chinese or Syrians did, but that the one thing the protesters did which made themselves easy to contain at relatively little cost was to break up and go back at night to their homes and dorms, etc. If they had never left the streets, never ceded their ground … who knows. They just did not have the leadership or plans in place that the Egyptians did, it was too spontaneous and emotional, also too aligned to the ’79 revolution’s methods, and I really hope that some smart young Iranians are preparing for the next spark, to pull everything and everyone together and the next time take the whole system down.