The Iranian regime has always dreaded fun. Western music is banned. Unchaperoned boys & girls together is banned. Women showing an ankle or some hair is banned, as is rental of bicycles to the ladies. The color green is banned, whether it's the green in the flag behind Ahmadinejad on national tv, or, even though Flynt Leverett denies it, the green stripes on street curbs in Tehran. And even Rafsanjani's face is banned. The news editor of the official news agency IRNA has forbidden publication of Rafsanjani's photo, and "the publishing of any images of programs that include the head of the Expediency Council is also prohibited."
That will be very bad news to the former president, who loves to see his name and face in lights. But there is no shortage of such photos, and IRNA has only made itself look ridiculous. But then again, looking ridiculous is all the rage at the highest levels of the Islamic Republic.
Now comes Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with his latest joyless fatwa to forbid celebration of the fire ritual that Persians have celebrated for thousands of years. It's scheduled for Tuesday (Planet-Iran will liveblog it), and Khamenei is nervous. For one thing, it isn't Islamic, so it doesn't pass religious muster (although the Islamic Republic not only does not prohibit, but actually requires celebration of secular events that bolster its nationalistic chest-thumping, such as "Jerusalem Day" or the anniversary of the 1979 revolution). But what really matters to Khamenei and his ilk is that it would permit large numbers of Iranians to demonstrate their contempt for the Islamic Republic. Green leader Mir Hossein Mousavi says so explicitly, and his nervy wife piles on, calling the regime "illegitimate," and saying that victory is at hand.
Khamenei's forces continue their campaign of random terror, alternating executions and arrests with releases and paroles. Perhaps they are looking for just the right quantum of evil, in order to silence the opposition. Perhaps the internal debate among Khamenei and his comrades swings back and forth. Perhaps it is a reflection of internal confusion and the leader's inability to make basic decisions. I incline toward the last but who knows?
Tomorrow's celebrations–or their absence–will give us yet another snapshot of what the Soviets loved to call "the correlation of forces," the order of battle in the ongoing war between tyranny and freedom inside Iran. We will also see the extent of the West's fecklessness. But there's really no doubt of that, is there? No doubt Obama et al think of the Iranian people the same way they think about the Israelis: annoying ingrates who pigheadedly insist on being independent instead of nicely getting in line with the marching orders from White House HQ.