Friday, 11 February 2011

What led to the downfall of the Shah's regime

Despite being backed by USA and UK, as well as liberal use of the army
that shoot at protestors, Shah's regime fell. The only information
that I got from Newsweek and Malaysian local newspapers was that the
turning point came when elements of the army turned against supporters
of the Shah.

The difference between Egypt and Iran could be the two things here:

1. Iran was led by Khomeini that called for the Holy war, Jihad. It
means that the Iranian protestors are prepared for violence already.
They may appear to be peaceful because they don't have any weapon at

Egypt has no leaders but the protestors are ready to hurt and destroy.
They were able to decimate policestations, prisons and entire riot
police organisations and their equipment. Many pro-Mubarak supporters,
armed with mostly sticks, horses and camels were severely hurt as
well. So behaviour should be similar.

2. The army in Iran was not respected by the Iranian people. They were
known to side with the Shah.

The army in Egypt is respected by Egyptians despite having been
involved with kidnappings and murders of citizens as well.

3. The loyalty of the Iranian army to the Shah was very strong.

The loyalty of the Egyptian army to the Mubarak regime appear to be
less strong. A few soldiers even killed the Egyptian president, Anuar
Sadat, and Mubarak had escaped assassination attempts many times

4. Mubarak may be worth US30 billion but the Shah is worth much more.
However this money is tied in assets. Liquid cash is not that much.

It is just that I am not sure of my facts. It has to be confirmed by
the locals.

What I need to know is the actual reason why the Iranians managed to
topple the Shah.

My guesses are as follows:

1. The army is only loyal as long as they get paid. After a long
protest, it becomes more and more difficult to get paid for the risks
involved. Another important point is inflation. As the unrest
unfolded, it needs more money to get as much enjoyment as it used to
be. The soldiers need much more money in order to be loyal to the

2. The Shah's army is made up of a few professionals. Most of them are
conscripts. The professionals may still be loyal but conscripts will
be hardly loyal. As liquid cash dries out, the conscripts will be
getting less payments.
It is these conscripts that deserted earlier leading to a few bands of
professionals to run and side with the protestors.

3. The Iranian army may number in a million with 100,000
professionals. With desertions, after a few months of unrest, the
remaining strength will only be about 500,000. With 100,000 soldiers
and a few millions young Iranians though poorly armed, should be able
to beat the Iranian army which are equipped with tanks that need
pertrol to run. Just destroy their petrol stations or keep them
running all day, they will run out of petrol in a few months.

4. The economy is run by the people. If the people revolt, the economy
will come to a standstill. Cash reserves for the Shah will fall.
Petrol inventories will also suffer if the protests last a few months.
The public may suffer, but the army and the elite will suffer more
because they are the biggest consumers. The general public can fish
and plant for food.

5. If the protestors were silent, it will take a long time for Shah's
army to grind to a halt. The protestors must be sabotaging the supply
lines of the Shah's army. All petrol stations and trucks will be
sabotaged, both by the drives as well as neighbours. It will be very
difficult to stop the sabotage of commercial vehicles that carry
supplies. A few hundred soldiers will not match a few thousands stone
throwing protestors. These soldiers will not be able to guard all the
supply lines.

6. I used to think that soldiers will be reluctant to fire on their
own citizens but this is unlikely because soldiers could be sent from
different regions as Malaysia and Iraq had done.

7. The Shah is more interested in enjoying life. The US could have
intervened by offering the Shah a place to settle down and enjoy
peace. Mubarak is different. He is a soldier. He loves to fight but at
his old age, he may like to enjoy his billions. At his age also, he is
already senile. He cannot enjoy any more. Pride is more important than
enjoyment. People at this age is more stubborn and willing to die for
something precious to them, which is pride in the case of Hosni

My predictions: Egypt will fall into chaos for a few months but the
uprising will fail to topple Hosni Mubarak before September. After a
few thousands deaths, many will go back home and remain passive. All
the young activists will be killed. Hosni Mubarak will stay in office
to die there even after the September deadline.

My reason. Most of the Egyptians are not that fanatical. Only the
young and educated. Iran was a different case. Most are fanatically
religious and driven by religion to engage in Jihad,i.e .Holy War.

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