The regime is also trying, after the failure on the first day of Moharram to show mass support, to mobilise the Iranian public. The Coordination Council of Islamic Propaganda announced that a "large gathering" will be convened in Tehran's Enghelab Square on Wednesday to protest the Ashura riots. There will also be pro-Government demonstrations in the provinces.
And then there are the token displays of a regime still supposedly in control. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has declared it will summon the British Ambassador over the “meddling” remarks of Foreign Minister David Miliband, who criticised the Government's oppression of protest. (No word, however, whether Iran will challenge the high-profile and more assertive comments of President Obama.)
The Latest on Iran (29 December): A Desperate Swing of the Fist
Iran: Ashura’s Message “Iranians Are Not Punching Bags” (Josh Shahryar)
Iran: A Point of No Return?
We are working on a full analysis of these --- in our opinion, desperate --- responses for later in the week. For now, let's note two indicators that this is not going to steady the Government's (sinking?) ship.
First, the arrests have been tried before to break the movement. Indeed, they began even as President Ahmadinejad's supposed victory was being announced in June. They occurred after the mass marches of 15 and 20 June, the gathering for Rafsanjani's Friday prayers in July, before Qods Day in September, after the protests of 13 Aban in November....
And yet the Ashura demonstrations still took place. More importantly, they took place even though the regime had disrupted or contained the "leaders" of the opposition through their detentions and threats. The Jamaran memorial, with Mohammad Khatami's speech, was broken up on Saturday night. Mehdi Karroubi only emerged hours after the protests. Mir Hossein Mousavi was notable primarily because he was mourning the killing of his nephew by security forces.
The Ashura demonstrations still took place, despite the Government's repeated swinging of its fists. And have a look at the video that emerged --- emerged in numerous clips despite the hindrance to communications. Consider: many of those demonstrating were no longer covering the faces.
Second, it is one thing to punish those who defy those with another wave of detentions. It is another to assert your legimitacy. So this morning, questions: where was the Supreme Leader on Sunday and Monday, as his authority was being challenged? Where was President Ahmadinejad on Sunday and Monday, as his Iran --- which supposedly is "10 times stronger" in its unity than any Western country --- came out on the streets? Where were their Ministers who had been so vocal only two weeks earlier in threatening to crush those who would dared not obey?
Where now is this Iranian regime?