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« Iran Document: Mousavi's "5 Stages to Resolution" Statement (1 January) | Main | Latest Iran Video: Protests Against and For the Regime (31 December) »

The Latest from Iran (1 January): Mousavi's Resolution?

IRAN GREEN2050 GMT: A First Go at Reading Mousavi. Edward Yeranian of the Voice of America writes, "Iran Opposition Leader Mousavi Not Afraid to Die for Reform" (there is also an audio report), and kindly gives us space in the article for a few thoughts:
Scott Lucas...thinks that both the opposition and the government are digging in their heels for a confrontation:

"The five-point plan is not new. [Mousavi] said something similar in around October. [This], therefore, is still a compromise within the system. [However], the other thing that's important is that the language he uses --- before he gets to that [compromise] --- about his possible martyrdom is striking: 'My blood is no redder than those of others in the [opposition] movement, but I'm ready to die.' [This is] a language of expected confrontation, as opposed to political compromise," he said.

Lucas also argues that Mousavi may be trying to re-establish himself as the clear leader of the opposition after complaints in recent months that he hadn't been showing up to lead public demonstrations. Many in the opposition, he notes, have been saying that the "opposition is leading Mr. Mousavi and not the contrary".

NEW Iran: 2009’s Year of Living Dangerously (Part 1)
Latest Iran Video: Protests Against and for the Regime (31 December)
Iran: The Rafsanjani Interview on France 24 (28 December)
Iran: The Regime’s Misfired “Big Shot” at Legitimacy
Iran: How Significant Was the Regime’s Rally?

The Latest from Iran (31 December): Is That All There Is?

2010 GMT: Explaining the Mousavi Statement (0745 GMT). We'll ponder overnight before offering an analysis tomorrow of Mir Hossein Mousavi's political move today. However, we may have gotten clues from Dr. Abolfazl Fateh, the head of Mousavi’s media committee in the Presidential campaign: "Mousavi’s statement is a significant goodwill gesture from his side and an important test for the authorities."

Fateh explained that Mousavi had offered a solution based on “goodwill and the minimum expectations of the people”, but this was now the last argument to be put:

If the authorities lose this chance the future great difficulties is their responsibility and they will be blamed for not taking advantage of this opportunity forever. Is there anyone listening among those who claim to care for the country?

So is Mousavi really calling this a "last chance" for the Government to accept a compromise within the system, based on the Constitution and changes in legal and political practices? And is he putting that message to the Supreme Leader as well as politicians and ministers?

1955 GMT: And Also Going After Ayatollah Dastgheib. It appears that, along with Ayatollah Sane'i (1005 GMT), Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastgheib of Shiraz is the main target of the regime. Plainclothes forces again attacked Qoba Mosque, days after moving on Sane'i's offices. Claimed footage of the attack has been posted, and there is a purported audio of Dastgheib speaking to  his followers.

1845 GMT: Today's Trees-Died-For-This? Moment. William Kristol in The Washington Post, claiming to come to the assistance of "the people of Iran" but establishing that he knows little if anything of Iranian religious tradition, history, culture, or politics.

(Mr. Kristol, if you're reading this, go to "A Request to Charles Krauthammer: Go Away". Consider the message duplicated.)

1810 GMT: Punishment, 1979 Style. In a telling passage in his Tehran Friday Prayer (see 1640 GMT), Ayatollah Jannati called for a return of "justice" of the first years of the Islamic Republic:
People’s expectations of the judiciary are very high. Of course we are aware that the judiciary has certain limitations now and cannot act like the courts of the early days of the Revolution. But if they had acted like those days this affair would have been over long ago.

Some analysts contend that in those years, amidst terrorism and the war with Iraq, Iran's judicial system authorised summary execution without full trials.

1725 GMT: Tehran's Friday Prayer (see 1640 GMT). Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting has posted extracts from Ayatollah Jannati's speech, promising punishment on all those who protest in the Islamic Republic.

1715 GMT: A group of students from Amir Kabir University in Tehran have issued a statement that they will not attend classes or take exams until their detained classmates are released.

1650 GMT: And That Punishment Is.... Giving the tough words of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani (0940 GMT), Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi (1120 GMT), Deputy Head of Judiciary Ebrahim Raeesi (0935 GMT), and Tehran Friday Prayer leader Ahmad Jannati (1640 GMT) some back-up, Iran's judiciary has announced that seven people arrested on Ashura will be put on trial next week for "desecrating the ideals of the Islamic Revolution".

1640 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Summary. Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati laying it out for the masses today:

Protesters are really, really bad. And we will punish them.

Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, said, "The judiciary system should act with more speed in dealing with rioters....The Islamic establishment in Iran will not tolerate any attempt to undermine Islam."

Most of the speech was the standard foreign-powers-are-behind-all-this script; however, Jannati added an ominous improvisation: "the harshest punishment for desecrating Islamic beliefs". The reference is being read by some observers as an endorsement of the death penalty.

1635 GMT: Latest Arrests. Sadegh Javadi-Hesar, a member of the reformist Etemade Melli Party and lawyer Nemat Ahmadi.

1625 GMT: From China With Love. The buzzing story this afternoon comes from Rah-e-Sabz: "Iran has imported high-tech armored anti-riot vehicles equipped with water cannons that can douse people with boiling water or teargas". An Iranian blogger gives details of the vehicles, two of which are pictured on the website:
With an alleged price of $650,000 a unit, the 25-ton trucks each hold 2,640 gallons of water, which can shoot hot or cold water at a distance of up 220 feet. They can also shoot tear gas, burning chemicals or paint stored in three 26-gallon containers.

[The truck] includes a plow, which can presumably demolish makeshift barriers placed on streets by protesters, or even the demonstrators themselves.

The Los Angeles Times features the story, which has a none-too-subtle undertone: from Tienanmen Square in 1989 to a version in Tehran 20 years later?

1445 GMT: A Renewed Attempt at Unity? At least one prominent politician has not given up on the search for political compromise. Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei has published a letter to the Supreme Leader. Rezaie asks Ayatollah Khamenei to publish a statement on unity and brotherhood, as Mir Hossein Mousavi, according to Rezaei, has retreated from his claim that that the Government is illegal.

1245 GMT: Mousavi and the Students. Today's Mir Hossein Mousavi statement (see 0745 GMT) has now climbed the ladder of the Western media, with a featured place on The Los Angeles Times site and coverage on CNN television (but not CNN's website).

Meanwhile, a student at Azad University Mashhad has given a first-hand account of the demonstrations and clashes, with more than 200 arrested and some reportedly missing, at the campus.

1120 GMT: We're Gonna Get Ya (cont. --- see 0935 GMT). Iran's Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi dealt out some more tough talk on Thursday in a TV interview: "The Intelligence Ministry has obtained good clues in respect to the elements who had a role in the recent riots. This unrest is different from that of the past and is a prearranged counter-revolutionary movement, designed by agents of sedition."

1005 GMT: Going after Sane'i? More possible evidence that the regime sees Ayatollah Yusuf Sane'i as a religious and political threat: a video and photos of claimed attacks on his residence and his office in Kerman have been posted.

0945 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that 210 students of Azad University of Mashhad have been arrested after Wednesday's demonstration and clashes with security forces.

0940 GMT: However, in Mashhad.... Nothing low-key about yet another public declaration by Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani. Speaking before Friday Prayers in Mashhad, he once again brought out all the themes of the Iranian regime defending the nations by smacking down the "hypocrites", backed by foreign powers, who demonstrated on Ashura.

0935 GMT: We're Gonna Get Ya. The deputy head of Iran's judiciary, Ebrahim Raeesi, has introduced Tehran Friday Prayers with yet another warning that protesters will be dealt with firmly. Hardly a surprising line, and one wonders --- given that Raeesi is not one of the most prominent players in the regime --- whether this is a relatively low-key finger-wagging despite its current first-story status for the Islamic Republic News Agency.

0855 GMT: The Changing Importance of the Story. The elevation of Iran in Western media can be measured by the quick attention given to Mir Hossein Mousavi's statement (see 0745 GMT)declaring his readiness for martyrdom and proposing a 5-stage resolution for post-election conflict. The BBC website features the story as "Breaking News", and The Washington Post, carrying the Associated Press report, highlights that Mousavi is "defiant after new threats". Reuters announces that Mousavi has declared Iran is in "serious crisis"; The New York Times quickly prints the report.

0835 GMT: We Do Information, You Do Propaganda. No comment necessary, I think, on this article from Press TV:
The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has launched a satellite channel to respond to the subliminal psychological programming of western media. The international channel Sahar Universal Network 2, which was launched on Thursday, December 31, 2009, aims to show Iranian society as it really is, and effectively combat western manipulation of media which distorts events, censoring and misrepresenting them.

It aspires to confront the influence of non-Islamic culture in the Muslim world and reveal the hegemonic policies of the great powers, which wish to dominate the peoples and nations of the world. Sahar Universal Network 2 seeks to introduce the rich culture of Islam, as well as political, cultural, social and economic advances made by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

0745 GMT: A weekend Friday has started quietly in Iran, as the country continues to wind down from the drama of Moharram's last two weeks. EA's Mr Smith takes advantage of the lull to offer Part 1 of a special review, ""2009's Year of Living Dangerously".

There could be some political noise later, however. Mir Hossein Mousavi has issued his first statement after Sunday's Ashura demonstrations. Criticizing the brutal confrontation of the Government’s forces with the mourning nation of Iran, Mousavi offers a five-stage resolution.

Mousavi's stages are 1) the acceptance by the administration, the Parliament. and the judiciary of direct responsibility for recent events, 2) a transparent law for elections that can create public trust, 3) release of political prisoners restoring their dignity and honour, 4) recognition of the freedom of press and media, and 5) confirmation of the people’s right of legal demonstrations.

Without singling out the martyrdom of his nephew on Ashura, Mousavi reiterates that he has no fear of becoming a martyr in the people's quest for their legitimate religious and political demands. He declares that any order for the execution, murder, or imprisonment of Mousavi, Mehdi Karoubi Mousavi, or other prominent reformists will not solve Iran's problems.

We watch to see if Tehran's Friday Prayers, led by Ayatollah Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, bring a significant show of support for the regime to follow Wednesday's rally. Meanwhile Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli has issued a statement on the events of Ashura, expressing his sorrow and concern over violence involving police against protesters. Javadi-Amoli said it was essential that while those who were breaking the law were dealt with, while those were demonstrating peacefully should not be treated justly.

Reader Comments (54)

"First it is clear that the tear gas being employed is not exactly state of the art. The green mobs are not being affected quickly enough. Either a more concentrated form must be used or one that blends tear gas with any type of military grade pepper spray."

Surely, mustard gas would be more effective.

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPic

Samuel is not a bodyguard of the Dalai Lama... he is just making a mockery out of everything you ask him, as that is his entire mission here. Notice that he never actually makes a reasonable argument he just provokes and personally attacks everyone who makes a serious post on EA. I suggest we just ignore everything Samuel says and wait for Scott to decide to stop Samuel's nonsense.

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Samuel and now PIg try to make fun of the regimes miserable state.
I issue is serious and we are getting closer to areal regime change for their attention.
It is nice to see regimes elements around with nothing to say as a symbolic feature of a primitive near death regime.
We should ignor them and battle on.

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim

You know, Pic, it's funny. AN is known to ramble on and on complaining about capitalism. And to be sure, I have certainly heard good arguments against capitalism. However, not one of them involved a policy of giving big chunks of your public sector over to your militia and paramilitary, handing out goodies and bribes to your political supporters, scaring your intelligensia out of your country via political repression, and using the massive wealth generated by an overpriced natural resource to procure cheap imports. The last person I'm aware of who tried that was, uh, this guy: (and I think we've all seen how that worked out.)

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Scott

Good comparision Kevin. The revenue from oil has artificially supported this mafia regime's existence, otherwise indeed KH would be no more than Mugabe. The other funny thing is how all these guys are related: the Larijan brothers, the key ayatollahs and hard line MPs, AN and Mashaii. It's just one big happy family ruling and enriching themselves under the guise of religion and nationalism. That's not much different from China where the "red princes", scions of top Communist Party bosses, came to own the largest private companies, but at least the rising economic tide lifted all, many out of poverty and some into the middle class In Iran, at least and at last, the king is now naked.

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPic

When u look at the situation objectively the Goverment is in a WORLD OF TROUBLE.... Just analyse the situation. What is the main weapons used by the Guards and Khamenei so far ??

FEAR, FEAR and FEAR again

So what do you do when people are not scared anymore ????
That question is the exact same question the Goverment is asking and thinking about every second on the day without finding an answer to it. Hence they have answered it again with the same.. MORE FEAR.... Which just does not seem to work at all...

How do you scare people when you fire real bullits at them and instead of running away they run at you?!!! (see movie above where the Basiji shoots people and they just chase him)

Unless they come up with a new tactic, the Goverment is playing a loosing game...

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

A good post Ashura speech by MP Torabi (will his immunity be lifted next or will he be subject to an "accident"?):

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPic

IMHO, the statement from mousavi does sound a little desperate at the end. He says the 5 requests do not have to happen all at the same time. I think it shows how keen he is to strike a reasonable deal and to avoid further confrontation.

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAM


Many people seem to be reading it that way, but you have to keep in mind that the original demand was merely to recognize that Mousavi had won the Presidential election. I think the Green movement has learned from Khatami's mistake during his presidency to always back down and let Khamenei have more and more power so that the violence will stop.
Notice that the first condition of Mousavi's is that the government take responsbility for this catastrophe. That is not a climbdown by Mousavi at all and would be unprecedented for any dictatorship that I know of.
Then take his demand for fair elections. Keep in mind that that is a much broader demand than the original protest in June that only referred to this particular presidential election. This implies that not only must a credible Presidential election be held, but that the Parliament needs to be exposed to fair elections as well and all future elections must be held under a credible system (which would probably mean that a much broader field of candidates could run than was the case even in the Khatami presidency of the late 90's).
So to read this as a climbdown by Mousavi you would have to assume that the original demand was the complete collapse of the Iran's governing system, which was never the Green's demand.

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

An inspiring story

Samuel's Islamic culture of sterility and death cannot compete with this.


January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

For the sake of Islam, I hope Iran's sincere Muslims wake up and realize that the IRI cult crime family exploits the supernatural for crudely material purposes.

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBozorg

@Adam Thank you for the great analysis. It seems people are having a really hard time determining exactly what this statement means. I haven't seen any analysis in the Western press about any of the "introductory poetry and sentiments" portion of the statement. Perhaps taking a look at that, even if it is only a formality to include such language in a statement, could help us better understand the meaning of the 5 points at the end that everyone is debating about.

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRev Magdalen

I agree with Adam, #27 above. The childish style is part of the IRI's own, we have seen this sort of ridiculous approach to Q&A where the IRI agents, thinking they are O so clever, childishly pose meaningless statements when asked to clarify, to analyze, etc. This is now clear and ignoring all of them is the best way. I don't have the time to even mock them.

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHossein

to ro bekhoda shoma beh in migin eslam?who is a sincere moslem?followers of ayatollahs?? i hope you have realized by now that islam is a religion which represented by SWORD. islam is a religion of force,anyone comes near ayatollahs and disagrees is a mohareb. ieslam has no logics.that is why we iranians are behind.or, maybe we don't deserve freedom.maybe someone in the name of islam has to be on top of us and beat us.

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhassan

PBE, Barry and Outsider, Happy New Year to you and all other readers!
It is so obvious to me that in a regime, which has eliminated all secular dissident factions, moderate religious factions try to re-establish all those personal freedoms, guaranteed by their own constitution. Let us remind that freedom of gathering and a restricted freedom of expression are inherent to this constitution, the latter being widely exploited during the Khatami era. Conflicting interpretations were already visible at that time, especially when students demonstrated against the closure of favoured newspapers like "Salam". And in July 1999 24 IRGC commanders addressed Khatami in an open letter, warning him to stop his reforms:
The interesting question is, if these reformist circles still adhere to reforms within the system, or if they have recognized them being impossible in the velayat-e faghih.
Outsider, AN and the SL are obviously trying to re-establish the infamous post-revolutionary courts, not taking into account major social changes since 1979. In some way they are frozen in time. I agree with Samuel that Moussavi and others did not condemn mass executions from 1988, but they have changed their minds since then.
Barry, of course the Bahais are behind these protests! How can you doubt about that ;-)
To return to the beginning, I always wonder about the simple equation of Western commentators that Iranians as a religious people automatically want a religious government. Actual discussions are in many ways reminding of the end of Nazi regime in Germany, when dissident voices were reluctantly ignored. Unlike then we have no consolidation of institutional powers, or at least recent popular protests are trying to prevent this consolidation. I still hope that Western states support these efforts instead of taking belligerent measures.

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

Hi Arshama

And also a very happy new Year to you.

I believe that Iran has a FUNDAMENTAL problem.

There are 2 kinds of Democracies - those that are truly democratic (like where I live) and those that think they are, but don't really "understand it".

In a true democracy, people have different ideas on how the country should be run - they argue against one another, form political parties, they even get quite angry with one another - but then they go to the election, and submit themselves to the people. The people vote - and the current Government, IF DEFEATED, retires gracefully. They may grumble, complain, get downright angry afterwards, but THEY DO LEAVE their offices.

In other so-called "Democracies", when an incumbent Government loses an election - they disregard the people and refuse to leave office. They like the Office and it's power too much.

The problem with Iran is that the Constitution basically enshrines a "Supreme Leader" who has (almost) permanent office . There is also a country called Britain which has a permanently enshrined "Head of State" - but that country has had centuries of effort to work out just how the "Head of State" fits into the Democracy. It took, amongst other things, a Civil War and execution of the British "Head of State" before that country worked out a workable arrangement. They still have a role for the "head of State" and that person does wield power (to advise the Government and to disband the Parliament and call for elections.)

KH is basically acting like King Charles 1 -- although in his case, he does have a written Constitution which guarantees him (almost) "the Divine right of a King"


January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

Yes - the more I think about it, there is a strong parallel between Ayotollah Khamenei of Iran and King Charles 1 of Britain

Charles 1 was an advocate of the divine right of kings, which was the belief that kings received their power from God and thus could not be deposed.

Oliver Cromwell was the Parliamentarian who didn't agree with that idea - however Cromwell turned out to be possibly even worse than the King!! :(


January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

Hi Barry,

Thanks for your comments. I am certainly not defending this mockup IRI or velayat-e vaghih, but asking myself about the nature of conclusions drawn by the reformist camp. The failure of reforms within this system was already apparent in 1999, when the SL vetoed the parliament's amended press law (to cite the most obvious example). Nevertheless the reformists stuck to the system.
How do they think today? Do they really advocate a different political system, based on the separation of mosque and state?
Iranians have not forgotten this failed experience, and I guess they expect more than a mere repetition of obsolete strategies.

You are much too friendly with KH ;-) He is not a king with divine rights, but in fact God's representative on earth! Whoever dares to oppose the 13.5th Imam, is a "mofsed fel arz" or "mohareb", worthy of execution ...


January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

"He is not a king with divine rights, but in fact God’s representative on earth! Whoever dares to oppose the 13.5th Imam, is a “mofsed fel arz” or “mohareb”, worthy of execution …"

Hmmm - I am not too sure how that concept can be fitted into the concept of a Democratic Republic (Islamic or otherwise) . :)


January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

BTW - has anybody heard anything about KH for the past week?? Is he "missing in action?"


January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

We must not also forget the nefarious "turban-wearing" factor. That opens the door for countless more conspirators!

"Asserting that there is no doubt that Baha’ism, led by Zionism, is behind these disturbances, Bavand declared: “A female advisor to one of the candidates in the recent presidential election who wears a turban defended Baha’ism.”

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

@ Pic
I read the article you recommended in post 19. Thanks. I do have one question though. In the article the author says: "The opposition itself is calling for targeted sanctions that would focus on the security structure...". I don't recall any representative of Mousavi, Karroubi or the various different opposition groups n Iran making this sort of statement. I monitor Persian2English, Roozonline EN, Radio Zamaneh, and the same blogs andTwitter accounts used/followed by EA, but maybe I missed something.

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

@Catherine, a number of foreign based opponents called for sanctions. In fact a debate raged (and still does) between those who want maximum economique sanctions (including gasoline) and those who want to only target IRGC interests. Many LA based emigres such as Doaeei want the former while people like Trita Parsi & Shirin Ebadi support the latter.

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPic

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