CNN has found a jeweler (or a "jeweler"—sources are understandably skittish these days) in Tehran who thinks the current unrest may lead to civil war. Her comments echo those of political scientist in Tehran I've been corresponding with.
The exchange with the jeweler on CNN:
Does Iran's opposition movement want regime change or just more freedom from this regime?
Nastaran: Secularism. [The] separation of religion from politics. As long as religious leaders don't interfere with politics, I don't see a regime change as necessary. However, I doubt that the religious leaders would be willing to accept this.
My exchange with the political scientist:
What is the relationship between the current activity in Iran and the uprising in Egypt? Is it merely mutual encouragement for reform? Or is there something deeper?
You can never compare these two movements, regarding the very differences in Egyptian culture and lifestyle with Iran situation. Both movements rose from deepest desire of the people but there are lots of differences. For Egypt, it was the matter of government but for Iran, this is more deeper, people wants to get rid of the thought of religion in every aspect of their lives. Mobarak never said that he sent directly from God and therefore those who protest against him are protesting against God and then should be executed without hesitation. This is what exactly happened and is happening here everyday, for almost 33 years.
So the opposition in Iran, say the jeweler and the political scientist, is not just a political but a cultural revolution.
The jeweler says this could lead to civil war (and that Obama should be circumspect in his comments about what's happening):
Nastaran: I completely disagree with the continuation of street protests. We are walking towards a civil war by asking people to pour into the streets and fight with empty hands. The regime will not step back and will kill as many people as it deems necessary to stay in power...
... the masses tend to not want to follow any movement that is initiated or assisted by Americans. Their help should be indirect, but their help can be valuable. An example would be creating infrastructure for Iranians to more freely communicate, have access to information and spread the information. Additionally, appropriate sanctions can be useful also. However, they should be the type of sanctions that the regime wouldn't be able to blame for the people's unhappiness and poverty.
The political scientist says (contra Malcolm Gladwell and others) that social media and technology is exactly what is causing—and uniting—these revolutions across the Middle East:
What is the relationship between the current activity in Iran and the uprising in other countries in the region: Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, etc.? On one hand, each popular opposition has its own unique causes and desires; on the other hand, the timing cannot be pure coincidence...
They can be somehow related, but the relation is because of the growth of Internet use in all these countries, the more people get to know their global situation, the better they can define what they want and what they do not have. People start to think and realise that they should have all their human rights, so they start to move, they want to be heard.