24 hours ago, we were evaluating the regime's stepped-up threat, through the public declaration of Ayatollah Jannati, "We Will Kill You". We wrote, "This Government, this Supreme Leader has to prevent the mantle of the 1979 Revolution from being wrested from its grip on 22 Bahman (11 February)."
And we watched for a response.
We got it within hours. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, in a meeting documented by video cameras, issued a declaration that stood upon Karroubi's own stepped-up challenge of the last week and, indeed, harked back to Karroubi's response last autumn to Government warnings of arrest: Bring. It. On.
In their expression of sorrow to the families of Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour, the two men executed last week for crimes against national security, Mousavi and Karroubi offered a clever political riposte. They reassured supporters who had criticised the lack of comment over Zamani and Rahmanipour, and they made a connection with the Green Movement even though the executed prisoners were not involved with post-election resistance:
It seems like such actions is only to scare people and discourage them from participating in the 11 February [22 Bahman, anniversary of the 1979 Revolution] rally.
The widespread arrests of the political figures, journalists and academia, charged with protesting to defend their rights, are illegal. The process of obtaining confessions from these prisoners is also in contradiction to Islamic principles and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Significantly, Mousavi and Karroubi renewed the latter's pointed challenge to Ayatollah Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council who is blamed for betraying the Islamic Republic by giving legitimacy to President Ahmadinejad.
Some in the Green movement will quarrel that Mousavi and Karroubi were unsubtle in declaring their allegiance to the Islamic Republic, "The majority of the people only want to regain their rights and are not seeking to overthrow the system," but this is an obvious strategy. It holds both the "middle ground" of Iranians who may be disillusioned with the Government and even the Supreme Leader but who do not want to put aside the Islamic Republic, and it makes the regime, rather than the opposition, the betrayer of and threat to the highest values of that Republic: "It seems like the rulers are even feeling danger by this voice of the people seeking justice."
And, of course, Mousavi and Karroubi offered the most defiant of responses to a regime which, over recent weeks, has tried to crush the prospect of mass demonstrations on 22 Bahman. To their followers, Mousavi and Karroubi put out the simple message: Join the Rallies. It was a message they did not give on 16 Azar (7 December) or even Ashura (27 December). Now the signal is clear: no more holding back.
Ayatollah Jannati, representing the regime, reviewed the prospects of more arrests, trials, and even executions and shouted, "Do It".
Yesterday, in a quieter but equally forceful manner, Mousavi and Karroubi responded, "Go Ahead. Try and Do It. We Do Not Give Way." Now it remains to be seen not only how the regime but also the Green movement take up that response.