Tehran: Thousands of Islamic militiamen
loyal to Iran's rulers have staged exercises for deployment
against protesters in the event of any anti-regime
demonstrations, a reformist daily reported on Saturday.
Around 3,000 members of the Basij militia on Friday
held mock "street battles using the experience of events" that
followed Iran's contested 2009 presidential election, Arman
newspaper said, quoting a Revolutionary Guards commander.
Some of them were "injured" during the exercises which
pitted militiamen "playing the role of seditionists (reformist
opposition protesters)" against special units.
The commander of the Revolutionary Guards in Tehran,
Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, told the units taking part
in the exercises that the Islamic republic remained
"vulnerable" to domestic "sedition."
The term "sedition" is used by the regime to refer to
an opposition movement, led by Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi
Karroubi, that was shaped after the disputed re-election of
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009.
Mousavi and Karroubi, once among the ranking elites of
the regime, lost to Ahmadinejad in the poll, which they said
was rigged heavily to assure him a second term.
Their opposition to Ahmadinejad sparked a large wave
of unrest in the Islamic republic, plunging the regime into
one of its worst political crises, and dividing the nation's
elite Shiite clergy.
The protests left dozens dead while thousands,
including many close to the opposition as well as journalists,
were arrested and sometimes sentenced to heavy prison terms.
"They are still conspiring (this year) and the
sedition will continue," General Hamedani warned.
"The danger remains, and we must be careful about the
Satan inside. On the front of domestic sedition, we are
vulnerable," he said, according to Arman.
The Basij forces, dependent on the Revolutionary
Guards, is estimated to have several million members, although
the number of its active members are unknown.
Western experts believe nearly 100,000 of Basij
forces, in cooperation with Revolutionary Guards, are trained
to intervene on anti-regime riots.
First Published: Sunday, May 15, 2011, 00:18