Expertly channeling people power

The protests in Iran are really impressive:
  1. Their silence (amateur video here on BBC) adds a sense of purpose.  How can there be that many people and it not turn into a riot?  These folks are going out of their way to be non-violent.  This is evidence of really strong leadership.
  2. Who ever heard of elite Tehranians leading street protests? Yet, that is core base of the reformers. These protests are being attended by the lower middle class.  That's an impressively broad base they've built.
  3. There is also quite a bit of organization: note the ready availability of green bands, green ribbons and the street art depicting what looks like a Mayan owl.
  4. The protestors are organizing against the odds -- TV, radio, newspapers, etc. are all closed to them.  All these people are showing up through word-of-mouth.
  5. The reformers have coopted symbols of Shia mythology including religious imagery, slogans and the 40-day funeral cycle.  In American politics, the party that captures the center wins. In Iran, the party that captures the Shia sense of martyrdom wins.
  6. Tying Ahmadi to the Russians, while taking "offense" at a mild putdown of Moussavi by Obama. They're playing the game of "who's the foreign stooge" quite brilliantly.
Considering all this, I wonder whether all this is a well-laid trap that the hardliners walked into.

Don't get me wrong: an open, transparent, modern Iran would be an incredibly stabilizing influence in the Middle East. Persia has historically had lots of soft power and it would be great if they start using it for good.  So, I'm pulling for the reformers (even my post is green!).  But that doesn't mean I can not admire expertly channeled people power.  There's a lot that other countries chafing under authoritarian rule can learn from the Iranian protests.

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