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June 14, 2009

The “They”


Sure, it’s possible this photo — from a NYT slideshow on Saturday — momentarily betrays the badass nature of these Iranian riot police. On the other hand, though, is it possible the eye contact (free of anger) with the Moussavi supporter, and the more relaxed look of the soldier in the foreground (is that shirt underneath military issue?) reflective of something else?   

Andrew Sullivan has been talking about the Iranian heirarchy’s deployment of special militias and even Hezbollah. And then, there is the question of the role of the Revolutionary Guard and other specialized tactical units.

Clearly, an important facet of this situation has to do with what kind of muscle is being deployed by the government … and with what degree of loyalty/ruthlessness.

(image: Caren Firouz/Reuters. caption: A backer of Mr. Moussavi confronted riot police officers in Tehran. In recent days, Mr. Moussavi’s supporters were predicting a wide victory, citing voter surveys. And Mr. Ahmadinejad, the hard-line incumbent, had appeared on the defensive.)

  • Jody

    The ’supporter’ could be a plant.

  • Mountainviewer

    Planted by whom??
    What I enjoy is all the competing greens: mouth scarf, wristband, uniforms, trees–as if this really was a contest over who gets to define/claim Islam.
    And, of course, the sunglasses v. visor dynamic.

  • elfpix

    They are always we.

  • bystander

    The collection of photographs here is mind blowing. Andrew Sullivan has focused a couple of posts on Mousavi’s supporters stepping in to protect overwhelmed riot police. On of those shots is in this collection, and The Lede (NYT) has video from an Italian news source for another. I find those efforts as compelling as anything else coming across “the wires.”

  • Jody

    Someone aligned with the police. An informer. A friendly. That’s why the relaxed eye contact.

  • Serr8d

    What, you’re inventing racism where none exists?
    I’m comparing here two sorts of rioters, in two failing countries. I’ve much respect for one of ‘em. I’m comparing thinking men to greedy boys; men who seek satisfaction on a much higher plane than is satisfied by a new pair of stolen sneakers.
    Of course you can’t see the choler of my indignation because of the discolor of your identity prism.

  • Michaeldg

    It is hard to reconcile these figures as being angry members of opposing sides of a violent, volatile confrontation. Perhaps they know each other, perhaps they are brothers…

  • Banji Lawal

    Its nice to see that another colour revolution ins occurring. Maybe in a couple of years we will find out that Moussavi and some of the key people who rallied the masses were working with the CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies so that both parties could discredit their political enemies.

  • Mountainviewer

    Interesting possibility. I guess I don’t quite see it, but you could be right. The person with the visor looks less relaxed to me than just very professional. I’ve been in the protester’s position before, face-to-face with riot cops, feds and so on, and they usually keep their composure quite well, reflecting their training.
    The protester’s left hand could be meaningful here. If we read him as pointing to his eyes–”can’t you see what’s going on here?”–then I think this is a polite dialogue between opposing forces. But following your suggestion you can almost read something conspiratorial into it if he’s using the fingers to hold up the scarf, kind of a whispering aside.

  • yg

    robert fisk gave some context to images like these:
    Not since the 1979 Iranian Revolution have massed protesters gathered in such numbers, or with such overwhelming popularity, through the boulevards of this torrid, despairing city. They jostled and pushed and crowded through narrow lanes to reach the main highway and then found riot police in steel helmets and batons lined on each side. The people ignored them all. And the cops, horribly outnumbered by these tens of thousands, smiled sheepishly and – to our astonishment – nodded their heads towards the men and women demanding freedom. Who would have believed the government had banned this march?

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