it’s the dog’s bollocks! – latest!

It’s got to be R2P time:

Blood was splattered on the streets of central Tehran late Sunday after pro-regime gunmen prowling the capital allegedly opened fire on anti-government protesters … Other video showed gun-wielding regime militiamen, likely members of shadowy factions loyal to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wielding assault rifles and scouring the streets in search of protesters. Witnesses said at least two people were shot and in unknown condition, even as the police denied using lethal force. the newspaper Hamshahri, associated with the mayoralty of Tehran, quoted Brig-Gen Hossein Rahimi as saying: “The police did not fire shots during yesterday’s and today’s rallies.”

– Borzou Daragahi, Independent (UK)

Regime Crackdown Intensifies As Iranians Flood Streets In Third Day Of Protest
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jan 13 2020

Despite an aggressive crackdown by the Iranian regime that reportedly included soldiers and riot police firing into crowds of civilians, in open defiance of Pres Trump’s warning to Tehran not to “kill your protesters,” anti-government protests over Iran’s mistaken shoot-down of UIA Flight 752 continued on Monday for a third straight day, following the regime’s admission of responsibility on Saturday. During the protests, which erupted out of anger over the regime’s initial lies about Flight 752 (it initially insisted that a “mechanical error” was responsible despite video evidence suggesting a missile strike), Iranian security forces fired both live ammunition and tear gas into crowds of angry demonstrators.

Some of the video and images have shown what appear to be casualties, though death tolls and counts on the number of injured have been difficult to pin down.

As Reuters explains, the protests against the regime “are the latest twist” in the Trump Administration’s campaign of maximum pressure against Iran and its government. Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted a couple of messages of support for the protesters on the ground, including one tweet sent in both English & Arabic. Videos posted to social media on Sunday recorded gunshots in the vicinity of protests in Tehran’s Azadi Square. The wounded could be seen being carried off on stretchers as riot police fired what looked like rubber bullets. Other videos showed riot police beating protesters with batons, while others nearby screamed “Don’t beat them!” Moreover, shouts of “Death to the dictator” could be heard in footage circulating on social media. It showed protesters shouting, directing their fury at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the system of clerical rule. “They killed our geniuses and replaced them with clerics,” demonstrators chanted at a one protest outside a university on Monday, a reference to the dozens of Iranian students who were returning to school in Canada who were aboard the flight.

Meanwhile, the chief of police in Tehran insisted that Iranian police didn’t shoot any protesters, despite photos and clips that showed individuals who have been shot with live ammo, although in the aftermath of the constant fake imagery out of Syria, it is distinctly possible that these were doctored. Police chief Hossein Rahimi said in a statement carried by the state broadcaster’s website:

At protests, police absolutely did not shoot, because the capital’s police officers have been given orders to show restraint.

In one of the more dramatic protests, students at Tehran University reportedly shouted on Saturday:

They are lying that our enemy is Pindostan! Our enemy is right here!

The regime is facing a backlash to the accidental shoot-down of Flight 752, a strike that killed 176 passengers and crew, including 60 Canadians. It’s thought that a misfiring of Iran’s Russian-made missile defense system brought down the passenger plane. Aside from the protests, some Iranian artists have spoke out against the regime. One famed director, Masoud Kimiai, withdrew from an upcoming international film festival. Two state TV reporters resigned in protest over the regime’s initial dissembling about the cause of the accident. Though we didn’t see the level of violence that characterized protests in nearby Iraq last year, the Iranian regime came out in force. Uniformed police officers were only one arm of Iran’s vast security forces. Riot police in black uniforms and helmets gathered earlier Sunday in Vali-e Asr Square, at Tehran University and elsewhere. IRGC members patrolled the city on motorbikes, and plainclothes security men were also out in force. According to Iran watchers, events over the weekend were an indication that the killing of Gen Suleimani and Iran’s response was truly an advantageous move for Faschingstein and the West, as the Iranian regime hasn’t looked this fragile, or faced this much international condemnation in years.

Iran admits to inadvertently shooting down UIA jet, killing 176
Jordan Shilton, Keith Jones, WSWS, Jan 13 2020

Iran’s IRGC admitted in a televised statement Saturday morning that it had inadvertently shot down a Ukraine International Airlines jet shortly after its takeoff from Tehran International Airport last Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board. The plane was felled by an IRGC missile just hours after Iranian forces carried out carefully calibrated, non-lethal missile strikes on two bases housing Pindo troops in Iraq. The strikes were in retaliation for Faschingstein’s criminal Jan 3 assassination of Gen Qassem Suleimani. In explaining how Iranian forces had come to shoot down a passenger plane, the head of the IRGC’s aerospace division, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said they were at the “highest level of readiness” on Wednesday morning in anticipation of an Pindo counter-strike. An officer took the “bad decision” to fire on the plane after mistaking it for a cruise missile, said Hajizadeh, adding:

We were prepared for an all-out conflict.

A separate statement from the headquarters of the Iranian armed forces claimed:

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 came close to a sensitive IRGC military centre at an altitude and flight condition that resembled hostile targeting. Under these circumstances, the aircraft was unintentionally hit, which unfortunately resulted in the death of many Iranian and foreign nationals.

The vast majority of those killed were either Iranian citizens or Iranian born, including 57 Iranian-Canadians and several dozen other Iranians who were studying in Canada. The disaster took place in context of fears of an imminent Pindo attack on Iran. Trump, who personally ordered Suleimani’s illegal assassination, had warned Iran that 52 targets, including cultural sites, would be attacked if Tehran retaliated. On Saturday, the NYT reported that Trump and top Pindo military commanders had agreed to take out an Iranian command-and-control ship in the Persian Gulf if Iran launched “revenge attacks” for Suleimani’s death. This, however, does not account for Tehran’s disastrous decision not to ground commercial flights in and out of Tehran under conditions where it had just ordered missile strikes in neighbouring Iraq and was bracing for Pindo retaliatory strikes; nor for the regime’s rebuff for the better part of three days of all suggestions that an Iranian missile might have been responsible for the crash of Flight 752. The regime’s initial concealment of its responsibility for the disaster reflects its immense fear, even in the face of a potential war with Pindostan, of a social upheaval within the country. The Islamic republic is a Shia clergy-led bourgeois state, facing growing opposition from the working class to its austerity policies and the growth of social inequality. Less than two months ago, it brutally suppressed mass protests over an increase in gas prices. These circumstances contributed to the shock, grief and outrage among ordinary Iranians over the plane crash and the government’s role. One news report cited an Iranian woman as saying:

They were so careful not to kill any Pindos in their revenge for Suleimani, but they did not close the airport? This shows how much this regime cares for Iranians!

On Saturday evening, anti-government protests reportedly involving hundreds of students were held at multiple Tehran university campuses. These were ultimately broken up by riot police. On Sunday and Monday, similar protests spread to other cities, including, according to Western media reports, Isfahan, Shiraz, Esfahan, Hamedan and Orumiyeh. According to some reports, riot police were out in force on the streets of Tehran Sunday and tear gas was used on a crowd in Azadi Square, estimated by the government-aligned Fars New Agency at 1,000 people. AP said tear gas was fired sporadically in Tehran, but there was no “wholesale crackdown” on protesters. Faschingstein & its vassals and the Western media are seeking to exploit the tragic fate of Flight 752 and the eruption of anti-government protests to divert attention from the war crime that was Suleimani’s assassination and Pindo imperialism’s escalating war preparations against Iran. The Western media have given great prominence to the protests over the downing of the plane, circulating video clips that feed into their right-wing narrative, including images of Iranians chanting:

They are lying that our enemy is Pindostan! Our enemy is right here!

No such coverage was given to the millions in Iran and Iraq who took to the streets over the past 10 days to voice their opposition to Washington’s assassination of Suleimani and plans to plunge the entire Middle East into a catastrophic war. As always, the “humanitarianism” and moral outrage of the political representatives of imperialism and the Western press are highly selective. Trump, who heads a government that has refused for over 30 years to pay compensation to Iran for the Pindo navy’s downing of Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988, which killed all 290 people on board, has demagogically posed as a friend of the protesters. On Sunday’s Pindo political talk shows, NSA Robert O’Brien and Sec Def Esper shed crocodile tears for the people killed in the downing of Flight 752 and postured as supporters of the Iranian people’s democratic aspirations.

All of this is preposterous. Trump heads a government that, under successive presidents of both parties, is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Iranians due to crippling economic sanctions Faschingstein has imposed on the country. The sanctions, illegal under international law and tantamount to war, have prevented critical health supplies from reaching the country, denied Iran access to the world market, and plunged millions into poverty as the country’s currency has collapsed. Faschingstein’s campaign of economic warfare has further exacerbated class tensions in Iran, which were already sharpening due to the bourgeois-clerical regime’s rolling back of virtually all of the gains of the 1979 revolution which toppled the bloody Pindo-backed dictatorship of the Shah. The goal of Faschingstein & its vassals is to restore a semi-colonial regime in Tehran akin to that of the Shah, which will facilitate their plundering of Iran’s energy resources and preside over the further impoverishment of the Iranian population. As it seeks to gain control over the energy-rich and geostrategically vital Middle East, the Pindo ruling elite cannot countenance the existence of an Iranian regime that aspires to pursue its own regional interests, let alone the growing influence enjoyed by much larger rivals like Russia and China.

Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure” on the country and preparations for all-out war show no signs of let-up. On Friday, Trump unveiled a further round of sanctions against Iran, and more Pindo troops and military assets are being deployed to the region. Iranian government officials pointed to some of these political realities in their comments following their admission that an IRGC missile had shot down Flight 752. After acknowledging Iran’s responsibility for downing the plane, Pres Rouhani blamed “threats and bullying” from Pindostan for the incident. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that “human error at time of crisis caused by Pindo adventurism led to disaster.” Iran has promised full cooperation with an international investigation into the felling of the flight. Ukrainian flight crash experts are already in Tehran to review the two black boxes recovered from the crash site. However, just as the imperialist powers and their media outlets are seeking to leverage the grief and anger over the duplicity and negligence of the Iranian authorities, they will undoubtedly seek to exploit the investigation, including complaints that Tehran is failing to be forthcoming about the workings of its air defence system and operating procedures, to ratchet up pressure on Tehran.

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