Foreign Policy Blogs

Examining February 11th 2010

Every year, February 11-or 22 Bahman in the Persian calendar-is celebrated with great fervor in Iran, because this is the day when the 1979 revolution succeeded in toppling the dictatorship of Western-backed shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The annual holiday is a deeply significant and symbolic date for the regime as it provides them with the opportunity to wax lyrical about the importance of the Islamic revolution. The day is usually filled with speeches extolling the revolution’s accomplishments, military parades exhibiting the country’s newest weapons, newspapers are filled with stories detailing the corrupt and abusive rule of the Shah while pointing out the heroic role of the revolution’s leaders. But this year was different. Anticipation was high as this was the first anniversary of the 1979 revolution since the disputed presidential election. Both Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, Ahmadinejad’s two main challengers in last June’s presidential election and the main leaders of the Green Movement, posted defiant messages on their Web sites urging supporters to come out en masse on February 11, something neither man had done before.

While the Green Movement’s protesters came out in great eagerness, the regime derailed any large-scale and potentially destabilizing opposition demonstrations. This time, the regime decided to directly attack the leadership of the Green Movement. Reports emerged that Mehdi Karroubi was viciously attacked on the streets by pro-government forces.  His son told the reporters that his father is being treated for burns on his face and eyes; “He was badly attacked with pepper spray. Plainclothes agents [Basij] approached him and kept spraying it in his eyes. He’s resting at home though; he’s not been hospitalized.”  Karroubi’s other son, Ali, was arrested while trying to defend his father. His status remains unknown. Former reformist President Mohammad Khatami’s brother Reza Khatami and his wife Zara Eshragi, the granddaughter of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic, were also arrested; though released later.  Reports also emerged that the Basij, with batons and punches, also beat Zahra Rahnavard, the popular wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mousavi himself was violently turned away and forced back into his car by security forces. He was prevented from addressing his supporters who had gathered at Azadi (Freedom) Square. It looks like for the time being the regime was successful in quelling what could have been a momentum-building event for the opposition movement.

For a more extended look at what transpired on February 11th 2010,  AEI’s Iran Tracker has all the updates.

Photos taken from the  Deutsche Welle.



Sahar Zubairy

Sahar Zubairy recently graduated from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas- Austin with Masters in Global Policy Studies. She graduated from Texas A&M University with Phi Beta Kappa honors in May 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. In Summer 2008, she was the Southwest Asia/Gulf Intern at the Henry L. Stimson Center, where she researched Iran and the Persian Gulf. She was also a member of a research team that helped develop a website investigating the possible effects of closure of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf by Iran.