Remember Iran: An EA Special --- Three Years Ago Today, The Supreme Leader Draws the Line on Protests
President Obama, 19 June 2009: "I'm very concerned, based on some of the tenor and tone of the statements that have been made, that the Government of Iran recognize that the world is watching"
Looking back, 19 June 2009 may have been a turning point in the crisis after the Presidential election. The Supreme Leader delivered the Tehran Friday Prayer in which he declared --- even though the Guardian Council was supposed to be considering a re-counted of the disputed vote --- a "great election" in which there was no question of manipulation. He also re-affirmed his anointment of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the victor, explaining that there was no way that Ahmadinejad's supposed winning margin was too large to be overturned by any "correction": "There might be 100,000 or 200,000 or 1 million in mistakes but 11 million is not possible....Nothing can be changed."
Ayatollah Khamenei blamed the mass protests on a foreign attempt at a counter-Revolution. Then there was this ominous warning, as we noted it on the day:
Leaders of campaigns "should be careful how they are acting, careful what they are saying". Otherwise, this could provoke "extremists"....The Supreme Leader talks of disruption of "normal life" by "terrorist plots" while people are carrying on demonstrations. If this happens, or if there is trouble with the paramilitary Basiji, "who will take the responsibility?"
If these "terrorist" activities continue, "I will have to come back here and speak more clearly and straightforwardly." Huge response from crowd.
The Supreme Leader did not halt the demonstrations with his threat, but he could well have unleashed his troops. The next day, dozens of people would die at the hands of security forces during another mass rally in Tehran.
We re-post our Live Coverage of the day's events in a separate entry. On 19 June, there was also a running summary of the Friday Prayer, a transcript and analysis of the speech, an eyewitness account of the post-election rallies, and video of President Obama's latest statement (posted at top of this entry).
12 JUNE: Remember Iran: An EA Special