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Iran : The dissension between the Basij and the power

One month ago, we reported the absence of Basij militia cadets, those young people who are responsible for national security, into the regime’s official demonstrations. As days went by, clues were amassed which denoted some awkwardness between the power and those young people not only inside the Basij itself but also into other armed branches. The regime confirmed our hypothesis by relieving of their post battalions of young people who were in charge of urban security.

This summer, with the aim of leading dialogue with the West to some blind alley and then avoiding any compromise, the mullahs’ regime had the idea of some democratic protest against the legitimacy of the person who is responsible for dialoguing, the newly re-elected president, the unpleasant Ahmadinejad. Young people demonstrated with Green outfit -colour of Islam-, a lot of them fought feebly with basijis and they chanted slogans that are known today to be part of the cultural background of the regime’s militia people : mottos written on Basij flags or even Khomeini’s famous words.

It’s at that time most European rediscovered Iran and in the meantime the word Basij. Such success was also due to the fact the mullahs’ regime that is usually so severe with journalists or archivists authorized every foreign media to cover those demonstrations and interrogate participants who repeated then “we are not against this regime or against Sharia but solely against Ahmadinejad !”

Besides Manon Loizeau from France 2 just received a journalistic price for the report she shot for the two days street spectacle that was bound to launch the Green Movement.

Such media efforts were actually intended not for France 2’s public but for the American president Barack Obama who made few days ago a speech to express his support to young Middle-Eastern Muslim democrats. Tehran hoped he would express his support to the Green Movement to deprive Ahmadinejad from any legitimacy and de facto invalidate any negotiation with him. Today we know from a sure source that Tehran sent via so-called dissidents or Iranian experts based in the USA messages to the American presidency to convince it that protesters would be favourable to the United States. However on day D, Obama and his advisers hesitated but finally this didn’t fool them.

In the absence of this support without which the scenario would have been invalidated, Tehran decided to authorize a great demonstration in order to appear more convincing. Iranians were alerted by foreign media in which they trust and they took the streets of the country’s biggest cities. However they didn’t behave according to the regime’s and foreign sponsors’ wish. Iranians didn’t follow the green instructions. They laid into the regime’s people who were in the march. Mostly they called for the demonstrations’ continuation and also for a national general strike which is the regime’s obsessive fear. From a sure source, this day they also chanted “Death to the Islamic Republic”, a slogan which was taped twice in videos we received from Iran.

Thus we assisted in a 10 days uprising against the whole regime. While Manon Loizeau’s nice film displayed a great number of Basijis, whenever young and older Iranians revolted against the regime, Basijis didn’t appear anymore. Then we learnt that hundreds of called up people -who are generally Basij incorporated- deserted while others laid down their arms and refused to fight against their compatriots. The reason is that today every Iranian who is commonly revolted against the mullahs’ living became even more revolted because the latter cancelled every subsidy that was intended for poor people -public officers- and closed factories without even paying workers -in order to preserve their standard of living. Tensions became more important among the Basij’s young people because the latter come from classes that face awkward situation and have the possibility within the framework of their protection mission to make their living getting very high –a deputy’s income is around USD 20,000 while workers income is less then USD 200.

After a 5 days exceeding, the regime took again the control of the street thanks to the fear raised by snipers who were stationed on roofs and by appealing to people from secret services, people we could see with civil outfit -grey trousers and white shirt.

Since this summer, there’s a fracture between the power and the Basij militia’s cadets. It was difficult to notice this fracture because the regime focused its efforts on the Green Movement’s leaders in order to run Basijis down, encourage hatred against this group and thus prevent people from fraternizing with poor suburbs’ youth.

We also cried wolf with some others but fortunately we dispose on this website of a Week in Images column which urges us to pay a great attention to the official images that are provided by the regime. Around one month ago, we’ve been puzzled by those images : we drew attention to the absence of Basij militia’s cadets at an official demonstration of the regime in which they used to parade each year with arms from head to foot.

The second alert was the cancellation of military manoeuvres that involved their presence and then their absence at a yearly audience with the Supreme Guide which is officially dedicated to them. At this yearly meeting, the regime replaced them with very young militia children and militia’s little girls, two groups that don’t carry any weapon.

The last week, Tehran had to organize as each year the week of celebration of Basij and Basijis. At the ceremony of declaration remittance, very few young men were present and instead of displaying submachine guns such as other militiamen in this kind of ceremony, they carried flower bunches.

In the middle of the week, we counted only 30 non-armed young militiamen at the great gathering some personalities of the regime had to attend. A bit later, instead of being the honour guests of the Guide’s yearly preach that is intended for Basijis, we found again those cadets -who seemed scary- lost in a crowd of elders. Young Basijis were also not present at the latest anti-aircraft manoeuvres although their presence was mentioned by the channel Press-TV.

Afterwards when we go back time to look at the images that are collected together in our weekly column Images of the Week, we can notice that they didn’t react to the call that was made to fill the regime’s several demonstrations or even the ones in honour of the Supreme Guide.

The images didn’t fool us. The verdict of this mute revolt fell on Sunday evening. By using the incomprehensible pretext that “12 people stole Basij uniforms to kill demonstrators during last summer’s confrontations”, Hamedani, the new commander of Greater Tehran’s Bassij forces, relieved from their duties every battalion of Al Zahra -for girls- and Achoura -for boys, those both main Basij bodies who are responsible for cities defence and security. According to the very brief release of Hamedani’s Commandment that was quoted yesterday by Mehr agency, young people from “Al Zahra and Achoura battalions won’t carry out anymore armed or military activities and they will be assigned to cultural activities or intelligence missions”.

Things are taking a very exciting shape because the number of concerned militia people is huge. An Iranian battalion counts between 300 and 1,000 members and the Bassij counts 120 Al Zahara battalions and 120 Achoura battalions in Tehran ! The decision to keep them away from weapons at a blow implies that the regime was scared of some action they would orchestrate. It decided to eliminate an immediate risk. All the better. An organized network of young rebels fell an easy prey to people.

The french version of this article :
- Iran : Le désamour entre le Bassidj et le pouvoir
- (1ER DÉCEMBRE 2009)

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