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