A law enforcement policy perspective
By Mark Pyruz
From what I can discern from the open source, there are key differences between recent Iranian and Syrian law enforcement approaches to unlawful assemblies.
In the Iranian case, law enforcement wasn't well prepared at first for the large-scale demonstrations that took place following the 2009 presidential election and there were dozens of fatalities. But soon afterwards Iranian authorities enforced a less-lethal policy of crowd control, even though it endangered the lives of police officers particularly during the Ashura rioting. One more advantage the Iranians possess is an ideologically driven volunteer auxiliary force attached to the police.
The Syrians, on the other hand, are contending with multiple poles of demos across the country (where the Iranians were primarily concerned with the capitol) and are escalating their policy of lethal force in contending with the demos. In addition, the Syrian establishment really has no ideological equivalent to the Basij and the majority support base of followers to the Islamic revolution, as is the case in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Like the other countries of the Arab Spring, the Syrians have employed the military as their ultimate means of fallback. Big differences between the two approaches.
Also, even with the less-lethal policy in effect, the Iranian opposition did not have the staying power on the street, and contained itself to attempted hijackings of official, pro-establishment events. The Syrian opposition, on the other hand, seems to possess the staying power. This could be indicative of the fact that Iranian support for their governance is a higher majority, as well as the Iranian political system encompassing a representative element to its interwoven and, to varying degrees, balancing branches of government.
In any event, where the Iranian demos have declined significantly with a less-lethal law enforcement policy in effect, the Syrians appear to be contending with an escalating demo movement with their own escalating lethal force policy. Contrary to the Iranian experience, this appears to be bringing Syria to a heightening sense of insecurity.