Fire bell in the night for the Ayatollah
As tens of thousands marched in the streets of Tehran on Wednesday in support of the regime, the head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps assured Iranians the "sedition" had been defeated.
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari is whistling past the graveyard.
The protests that broke out a week ago and spread and became riots are a fire bell in the night for the Islamic Republic.
The protesters denounced President Hassan Rouhani, re-elected last year with 57 percent of the vote, for failing to curb inflation or deliver the benefits he promised when Iran signed the nuclear deal.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, commander in chief and head of state, in power three decades, was also denounced, as were Iran's interventions in wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen.
In 2009, the uprising of millions in Tehran was driven by middle-class rage over an election stolen by the populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This past week's protests began in the working class, in what might be called Iran's "fly-over country."
The protesters were Red State and Tea Party types, demanding their own version of "Come Home, Iran" and "Iran First!"
The charge against Rouhani is that he has failed to deliver the good times promised. Against the ayatollah and the mullahs, the charge is that what they have delivered -- power and wealth to the clerics, social repression, foreign wars -- are not what the Iranian people want.
The greater long-term threat of the protests is to the Islamic regime.
For if the protests are about people being denied the freedom and material goods the young enjoy in the West, the protesters are demanding what theocracies do not deliver. How could the ayatollah and the mullahs, who restrict freedom by divine law, accept democratic freedoms without imperiling their own theological dictatorship?