When the Shah fell from power in 1979 it was after a year of strikes and demonstrations. Revolutions in Iran tend to proceed at a stately pace. After a stolen Presidential election in Iran in the late Spring, the Iranian regime found itself faced with an active and growing opposition. The regime has been unable to crush it. On December 7, huge demonstrations erupted throughout Iran on college campuses. Now cracks may be beginning to appear in an institution that is key for the survival of any dictatorship: the military. The below story was reported in Pajamas Media by Iranian exile Afshin Ellian, who fled Iran in 1983 and who is a law professor at the University of Leiden. He is the sole source I can find for this report, so take it with a grain of salt.
On December 10, a statement signed by a number of officers and commanders of the Iranian army was released. The regular army of Iran had not been involved in the suppression of the population. The statement was signed by:
•Pilots and personnel of the aviation division of the regular army (Havanirooz)
•Commanders and personnel of the 31th artillery division of Isfahan of the regular army
•Pilots and airmen of the regular army
•Teachers of the Shaid Satari University of the regular air force
•Officers and staff of the logistics training unit the regular army
•Professors and lecturers of the Imam Ali University for officers of the regular army
•Officers, staff, and commanders of the chief of staff of the regular army
In summary, they wrote:
Together we fought in the war with our brothers in the Revolutionary Guards in order to defend the country, the people, and the honor of the nation. They also emphasize that “the value of the land means the value of the Iranian nation.” This is very interesting. Value of the nation.
Not abstract concepts such as Iran or Islam, but the value of the nation determines the value of the land. Therefore, the weapons of the army and RG are to be used to protect the nation: “When we fought together, we could never suspect that parts of the RG would ever use its weapons against the people.”
The last section of this brief but powerful statement will surely immortalize these brave officers: “The army is a haven for the nation and will never want to suppress the people at the request of politicians. We shall remain true to our promise not to intervene in politics. But we cannot remain silent when our fellow citizens are oppressed by tyranny.”
They go on: “Therefore, we warn the Guards who have betrayed the martyrs (from the war between Iran and Iraq) and who decided to attack the lives, the property and the honor of the citizens. We seriously warn them that if they do not leave their chosen path, they will be confronted with our tough response. The military is a haven for the nation. And we will defend the peace-loving Iranian nation against any aggression.”
Keep an eye on Iran. This is a very important development if true. The regular military is not only openly challenging the regime, but its chief support, the Revolutionary Guards. If this report is accurate, elements within the military have obviously decided that the regime cannot survive long term and have decided to throw in their lot with the opposition. Watch for an open clash between the military and the Revolutionary Guards in the not too distant future, if this statement is as presented. It is hard getting an accurate reading of just what is going on in Iran these days due to the crakdown by the regime, so many stories are difficult to properly source, and the exile community often has contacts within Iran that the major media outlets do not.
Update I: More here. The letter first appeared on the Iranian reformist website Gooya. As you can see in the comments to this article on the linked to website, there is much debate as to whether this letter is real, and, if it is real, what it portends. I will keep an eye on this story and update this post when I can glean more information.
Update II: Good overview here regarding the situation today in Iran. It has this paragraph on the purported letter from elements of the Iranian military:
(There may or may not be a dramatic side issue here: as the regime was playing its Khomeini card, the claimed letter/audio from Army and Air Force units, “standing with the Iranian people” if violence continued, emerged. It is still a matter of heated debate whether the letter and audio are genuine. The point is that, if the regime believes it might be genuine, then the prospect of military dissent arises. And this in turn might have been a supporting catalyst for the Supreme Leader’s invocation for everybody to shut up and get in line.)