The blog was useful in correcting some key information, for example, quoting a Tehran analyst, "Karroubi [has] not budged at all. Karroubi said that the government is the government of the system. So it does not imply he has recognized it." However, because of its focus in taking apart the wayward media coverage of the statement --- a coverage corrected by the better analysts of the complexities of Iran's internal crisis --- it missed the more important point:
This is definitely Much Ado About Something.
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Iran Special Analysis: What Karroubi’s Statement on “Mr Khamenei”/”Head of Government” Means
Latest Iran Audio: Hossein Karroubi on His Father’s Statement (25 January)
Iran Snap Analysis: The Karroubi and Khatami Manoeuvres
Karroubi may or may not have intended to stake out a direct challenge to the Government and regime when he met the large group of reporters and onlookers on Monday. But, once Fars News pushed him with the false claim that he had recognised "President" Ahmadinejad, he and his closest advisors chose to make a stand. Even the initial response given at the conference, with its "Mr Khamenei" and description of Ahmadinejad as the "head of the government of the regime", was a put-down, but throughout Monday and Tuesday, the clarifications got tougher and tougher in their tone and intentions.
The Facebook site supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi and The Flying Carpet Institute have tracked Karroubi's course, set out by his website Saham News, with a series of English translations. This was Karroubi's son Mohammad Taghi yesterday:
Mehdi Karroubi is an honest and brave man who won’t sell his eternal life and people’s love, for the sake of this short material life. If there was a case of compromise or ignoring the events, he would have not tolerated all the insults, inhuman attacks and assassination threats for seven months. Be sure that if there is any news that Mehdi Karoubi would know about, he will announce that truthfully and bluntly. There is no compromise and there is no fear.
Legitimacy and reality are two separate issues. In order to gain legitimacy in any case there is the need to satisfy certain conditions. Mehdi Karroubi have repeatedly said this since the first day [after the election] until today that he does not accept that the result of the election was based on the votes casted by the people. Even yesterday he emphasised that there are issues with the results. In his views the results of the election were fabricated. But following the confirmation by the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader according to the law, Ahmadinejad became the head of the administration, whether we like it or not.
The head of the administration gives the budget and makes decisions that influence our lives, we cannot deny this reality. But to gain recognition and legitimacy, it is needed to satisfy certain conditions and the protestors believe those conditions were not met.
Then there was Karroubi himself, in his latest statement:
With the passing of time, I become even more convinced of the extensive manipulations and fraud that took place in the recent elections, as every day we receive new information that demonstrates the regrettable nature in which the authorities handled the trust given to them by the people of Iran....
Ask yourself what were the desires and demands of the the people who spontaneously came to the streets in such large numbers after the election? What were the demands of the 3 million people who roared in the streets from Imam Hossein to Azadi Square, with their silent march, without any form of advertising or propaganda motivating them to attend? Should the response to a nation who took to the streets with such noble intentions have been batons, tear gas and gun shots? Should our dear youth who dared ask “Where is our Vote?” within the framework of the law have faced violence and death at Kahrizak and other prisons?”
We should tell those responsible for these atrocities “How do you expect the people of Iran to accept your one sided claims regarding the election when it is so evident that you lie? Did some of you not have the audacity to suggest that these young people had lost their lives to meningitis? Would you have ever admitted to the occurrence of these crimes had it not been for persistent and defiant cries & demands by myself, Mr. Mousavi and the brave nation of Iran?
Just as important, Karroubi is not alone. Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi and an important political figure in her own right, was forceful and eloquent when she declare, We neither recognise Ahmadinejad’s administration [as a legitimate government] nor compromise but we are honestly following people’s rights and demands….We have put our hearts as our shields and we are ready for any bullet, attack or assassination."
Consider both the scope and timing of this episode. With the passage of month, the regime had been successful in moving attention away from June's Presidential election, even as the general notion of opposition to the "system" was being debated amongst the opposition. Of course, no protester was recognising Ahmadinejad, but the specific issues in play were now injustices and the abuses of detainees.
The effect of the last 48 hours has been to resurrect the electoral, as well as the political and judicial, legitimacy of Ahmadinejad. And that in turn raises an interesting intersection: while the "conservative" opposition to the President does not want to revisit June, they do want to take down Ahmadinejad's allies and curb his authority. So now "the head of the government of the regime" faces a renewed challenge from multiple direcitons.
And all of this occurs in what was supposed to be the quieter water between Ashura and the commemoration of the Islamic Revolution's anniversary (1-11 February). Without taking to the streets, even as many of its leading activists have been swept up in arrests, the opposition has taken the initiative.
None of this should be read as a coordinated victory. Some in the Green movement, after the initial confusion over Monday's statement, are still distrustful and even disdainful of "Obi-Wan Karroubi", and there is still uncertainty over the relationship between Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami. I suspect, however, that both of these tensions will diminish in the next week.
It also remains to be seen whether this challenge, which Karroubi is again framing as one against the Government rather the system despite his "Mr Khamenei" jibe, will be expanded to take on the Supreme Leader. It is possible, however, that this question --- again because of the most recent developments --- can be put behind the immediate confrontation.
Legitimacy. That is what the fight was over in June. And 7 1/2 months, it is still the battleground. "President" Ahmadinejad can run, but this week will re-establish that he cannot hide.