Silent protest march, 16 June 2009
Re-reading our coverage from three years ago today, I was surprised. The following months of conflict and repression had eroded any memory of the moment when --- perhaps unsettled by the mass march of the previous day demanding a fair election, perhaps playing for time --- the regime had offered a glimmer of compromise.
At least eight protesters had been slain the previous evening, several students at Tehran University were dead after raids by security forces, and hundreds of people were detained, but the Supreme Leader was ordering the Guardian Council to consider a re-count of the Presidential ballots and was meetings with representatives of all four candidates, asking them to pursue "national unity".
There are other surprises as well. On 16 June 2009, I was on Al Jazeera's Inside Story with Professor Anoush Ehteshami and Tehran University's Seyed Mohammad Marandi --- whom I had known for almost a decade --- to discuss the mass protests of the previous day and the Supreme Leader's moves for a possible recount.
Marandi is now known as one of the most strident defenders, in English-language media, of the regime's legitimacy and its crackdown on opposition. Yet in this episode, he has yet to adopt the position that Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have pursued "sedition" by calling out riotous supporters on the streets. Instead, he notes without criticism the presence of "both sides" --- the Green Movement and Ahmadinejad's supporters --- in making their cases over the election.
And my own position? I don't think I would change a single word of this, three years later: "I don't think we'll ever know if there was fraud committed last Friday....I think the issue is transparency....And I think there's also a power struggle going on within the political and clerical elites."