Iran Continues

The angry stalemate continues in Iran, with numerous subtle developments that make it hard to draw any conclusions from the outside about where things are heading. There are reports that the police have stopped repressing protest; that they may have been ordered to do so by no less than the Supreme Leader; that the numbers at the protests have been plummeting; that outside of Tehran the movement is close to over… I don’t know how accurate any of these claims are but I’ve read all of them in multiple venues over the last few days.
In any case, it is clear that protests are continuing, the Iranian regime is not making any concessions of substance, and that the resistance/”reform movement” is not just the wealthy, Westernized people of north Tehran but a wider movement that cuts across class boundaries. My instinct is that the regime will be able to wait out the protests, but that this run of action will not be forgotten in Iran – that there will be no immediate change but the political landscape will have shifted as a result. That’s just a guess.
The resistance in Iran has also been a case study in the value of the new media. Twitter has come of age during this run of events. It has been fascinating to watch Twitter used not just as a reporting tool but also an organization and identity-creation tool, and even more fascinating to watch in real time as government-supporters (or government employees) try and insert disinformation into the converation and get quickly exposed and denounced. It is certain that the dissident youth and the authorities in China have been taking careful notes.
Twitter coverage of Iran has also been bouncing around the celebrity Twitter-net; frex, Eliza Dushku (45K followers) has been pushing this a lot thanks to her recent visit there via Global Exchange (I love this inadvertantly hilarious pic: can you possibly guess which one of these people grew up in Hollywood?) and Twitter’s uber-celeb Ashton Kutcher (nearing 2.5M followers) has been passing on street resistance techniques to Iranian protesters. This petition to the UN has been circulating on Twitter too. I’m still unconvinced about the long-term viability of Twitter – I don’t like how it scales at the personal level, the difference in experience between following 20 people and following 200 people is massively negative – but it’s certainly making an impact. (That said, Google Wave will change the paradigm again. Anyone want to guess what the Iranian crisis would look like if Wave was up and running in the digital wild?)
My pick of the reportage has to be Robert Fisk’s coverage. He puts it together smartly.