UPDATE 1915 GMT: First, an apology. I got this wrong earlier --- I missed the important nuances in Karroubi's statement and made the wrong connection: it is not linked to the Larijani-Rezaei-Qalibaf initiative.
Second, a top EA correspondent is finishing checks with sources and will have the best analysis of this situation later tonight.
Iran Special Analysis: What Karroubi’s Statement on “Mr Khamenei”/”Head of Government” Means
The Latest from Iran (26 January): Now for the Follow-Up….
The Latest from Iran (25 January): Who Makes A Move Today?
UPDATE 1630 GMT: An EA reader points us to a curious piece that appeared in Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News this past weekend. The apparent confusion and even dispute between Karroubi and Khatami over a supposed approach to the Supreme Leader has been at the back of my mind while trying to read latest events. Any assistance from readers appreciated.
UPDATE 1500 GMT: EA sources, as well as readers, offer important amendments to our reaction:
First, it should be noted that Hossein Karroubi contacted a number of press outlets after Fars News claimed that Mehdi Karroubi had declared, without reservation that, he "recognised the President". Given Fars' past record, as well as the unlikely scenario that Karroubi would make such an important statement through that outlet, the scenario is that Hossein Karroubi was putting out a hasty "clarification" to prevent the Fars story from getting any traction.
Second, Hossein Karroubi's clarification had two important qualifiers. First, he made clear that his father saw Ahmeadinejad as "selected leader" rather than "elected President". Second, even though that selection was on the basis of the Supreme Leader's endorsement, there was a pointed reference to this as the action of "Mr Khamenei".
So the story seems to move away from a concerted response linking Karroubi and the "establishment" critics of the Government. Still, questions remain:
Why did Hossein Karroubi not give a simple repudiation of the Fars report? For the statement he offered has a curious tension: Mehdi Karroubi accepts the overriding verdict of the Supreme Leader (and thus velayat-e-faqih) even as he diminishes leader and system with the "Mr" tag.
And perhaps more importantly, is the Khatami letter to the Supreme Leader legitimate? For if so, Karroubi's response is not only to Ayatollah Khamenei; it is to the former President's attempt to bring together a group for reconciliation.
A quick reaction to emerging events, combined with the inside information Enduring America received last week:
Last week, as part of our articles on a possible "Plot Against President Ahmadinejad", we noted that the key participants (Ali Larijani-Mohsen Rezaei-Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf) had extended invitations to Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to join the move.
This morning, we are processing news that 1) Mehdi Karroubi, through his son, is saying that he is recognising Ahmadinejad as President because of the Supreme Leader's endorsement; 2) Mohammad Khatami has written to the Supreme Leader upholding the process of reform but recognising the legitimacy of the Iranian system and has suggested the arbitration of Hashemi Rafsanjani in a resolution of political issues.
No one has yet been able to put forward a reason for the apparent shift, so here goes: the overture by the "establishment group" was not rebuffed. Instead, a deal may have been struck: the Supreme Leader and velayat-e-faqih are beyond dispute. The June election will not be overturned (primarily because Ayatollah Khamenei endorsed it), but the "reformist" leaders can put their grievances and recommendations for change to a working group.
And Ahmadinejad remains on the outside of the process.
A lot of holes at this stage in the hypothesis. After all, this assumes that the Karroubi and Khatami statements are as reported (I tend to think that is the case). Mir Hossein Mousavi has not made a declaration. And, of course, there will be nothing in public to connect this to a Larijani-Rezaei-Qalibaf initiative.
But, given how much rough water will be stirred rather than smoothed by these developments, best to cling on to something....