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Iran Analysis: On the Eve of 22 Bahman

By yesterday, political battle lines had pretty much been drawn for the protests on 22 Bahman, the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, this Thursday. The regime had made its threats and tried to disrupt the opposition, key figures such as Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and other reformist parties and clerics had made their calls for peaceful demonstrations, and the Green movements (less visibly for obvious reasons) had put their preparations in place.

Then two events --- one confirmed, one rumoured --- shook up our analysis. First, Alireza Beheshti was released from prison last night after several weeks in detention. Mousavi's chief advisor had also been freed in the autumn after a brief spell in prison, but this move was more surprising. Ever since Ashura (27 December), the regime has been using arrests to try and break resistance, so why --- on the eve of 22 Bahman --- make an apparent concession?

Hours later, a possible explanation emerged. Rah-e-Sabz made its sensational claim that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani had personally intervened with a visit to the Supreme Leader after Iranian authorities attempted to arrest Beheshti's wife. He asked not only for a cessation to that threat but for the freeing of Beheshti, the son of one of the most famous figures of the 1979 Revolution. (See separate entry for analysis.)

Iran Snap Analysis: The Rafsanjani “Ultimatum” to the Supreme Leader

And there was more. Rah-e-Sabz claimed that Rafsanjani, having been "ambiguous" in his statements since early December, had given an "ultimatum" to the Supreme Leader to act against the abuses and injustices of the Iranian Government. The unsubtle implication, as Beheshti was freed last night, was that Ayatollah Khamenei had listened and accepted the former President's criticism.

Well, we'll see, since neither Rafsanjani nor the Supreme Leader --- or anyone else, for that matter --- is stepping up to confirm the report.

What is important, in the meantime, is that there is a significant difference on the eve of this event compared to the political environment before Ashura (27 December). On that occasion, the only prominent opposition figure who made a move was former President Mohammad Khatami, and his memorial speech for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri was rudely broken up by pro-Government protesters. Mousavi, Karroubi, and other senior clerics were all muted about the demonstrations to come. And, after those protests, "conservative" figures such as Ali Larijani were unstinting in their criticism of the "violent" and "foreign-backed" Green movement.

Now all these figures are in play. Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami have put down their political markers for a big opposition show on Thursday and promised more to come. Rafsanjani, for the first time since early December, may have made his manoeuvre to challenge the Government. And Larijani, joined by others within the establishment, is now targeting Ahmadinejad as much as any Green protester.

This political change should not overshadow the importance of the demonstrations on the ground tomorrow. The demands "from below" for legitimacy, justice, and freedom are just as necessary as any high-profile statement or even "ultimatum".

Instead, what we now may have, for the first time since November, are the two halves of the challenge to the Government, and possibly the Iranian system, coming together. If the numbers are large, and even more if those multitudes are peaceful, then the Green wave for change will carry more possibilities for the politicians and clerics; conversely, each move by those politicians and clerics will bolster the demonstrators who are risking arrest and condemnation just by stepping foot into the streets and squares of Tehran and other cities on Thursday.

"From top" and "from below": it is less than 24 hours to 22 Bahman.

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    [...]EA WorldView - Archives: February 2010 - Iran Analysis: On the Eve of 22 Bahman[...]

Reader Comments (13)

Wow. Incredible stuff. I can't wait. After working the D.C. Snowpacalypse and Snowmageddon and Snowlacaust (Snowverload!!!) for 14 straight days (16 hours a day), I'm taking this day off no matter what.

It is interesting how under such circumstances, EA goes from merely being my favorite site amongst the many that I read, to THE essential site to use to catch up on everything Iran. It brought to my attention another "plus" of EA. I bet that EA is providing a really valuable service for lots of people around the world that, although they can find their way around the web, or news, or social media quite well, do not necessarily have time to do so. (Maybe some of them are busy organizing rallies, for example!) I'm very hard pressed to think of other websites that aggregate overviews of all significant post-election events in Iran, author very high quality independent analysis, and offer it day in/day out (even on slow news days)

Darnit, this would be the perfect blog if it wasn't for those atrocious Bruce Springsteen videos... ;-)

February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Scott

Don't forget, the diaspora in Europe/the US&Canada/Australia/Asia will be demonstrating in solidarity with the civil rights movement and will activate local and national media to support the people in Iran "from outside"!

February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiaspora

[...] eine Analyse der politischen Lage von Scott Lucas. Veröffentlicht in News, Vor Ort. Kommentar schreiben [...]

The end of the miserable life of the evil Zahhak. Can I dare imagine it. The day I live for I long for. I am alive because of the intensity of my desire to witness the end of Zahhak. This intensity moves me, even drives me. I will write a play, the thirst and the hunger will mix and I will simply gaze at the clouds, the dark ones, passing and dissolving. I will call it simply " Zahhak's Myth." Do I dare imagine it.

February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHossein


Zahhak has been exposed, and is truly on the verge of being destroyed forever.

I will look out for your play.

Kevin I agree with what you are saying about EA - it's made a massive difference to all non Farsi speakers around the world, given us all a chance to stay informed and interested.

Scott, by some miracle have you managed to get out of your academic duties for 22nd Bahmam - or maybe you could just make the 22nd Bahmam the subject for your students tomorrow:-)

February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRoe Lassie


For tomorrow, all day, consider my title changed from Professor of American Studies to Lecturer in 22 Bahman Studies.


February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lucas

[...] but there’s every reason to suspect that it will be a critical to the resistance, both with what happens and what doesn’t happen. What is important, in the meantime, is that there is a significant difference on the eve of this [...]

February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBloodstar » Why Feb 11th

Scott and EA, thank you! Can it be that God is giving DC dwellers the snow so they can stay home and keep abreast of all developments 22 Bahman? I hope so. One day closer to a democratic Iran for all Iranians.

February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBehrooz

Dear Lecturer in 22 Bahman Studies

Keep up the great work! Azadi!

February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFoxButters

Behrooz - that's an interesting point you make! I actually am one of the people on the govt closing conference calls. Although I can't make an official announcement or discuss what is said on those calls, I can generally tell you things are heading in that direction again for Thursday. And what is the #1 thing that the (pretty wimpy) people in D.C. do during snow days? They stay home, watch TV, and use their computers! So, it really is not at all a stretch to say that an extra large number of government officials and policy shapers in the U.S. might be glued to the web, social media, and television taking notice tomorrow.

~ Kevin

February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Scott

the demons are in full charge in iran by iranian islamic government.and i am charged by power of god in jesus name to destroy demonics islamic in the world. and it will start very soon from iran and continu to the end of the world . the recent situation is that god is showing the power of allah(satan),and by destroying allah and his real followers, god will show his power over satan to the world. and soon after world will understand who ever not believe jesus is christ and son of god will die in his sin. AMEN
olive tree and lamp stand

February 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterebrahim


I think you have forgotten to take your medication this morning.


February 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

ebrahim -

May the U.S. fail in her attempt to block the 12th Imam's path from Karabala, and may the Mahdi poke you in the eye with a flag bearing the Black Standard when he returns.


February 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Scott

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