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The Latest from Iran (18 July): A Victory Followed By.....?

IRAN GREENUPDATE 1530 GMT: From our source:

The conservatives strike back. Ayatollah Yazdi, in a news conference has blasted Rafsanjani for his recent speech. In response to Rafsanjani's call to release prisoners Yazdi countered by saying  "Who do you think you are to demand the release of the detanees?" and "these detainees are mercenaries who have been caught inciting people to revolt and must not be released". Yazdi accused Rafsanjani of "sowing the seeds of doubt amongst people".  Yazdi then asserted that in "Islamic government the legitimacy comes from God and popularity from the people" (implying that even an unpopular Islamic government is legitimate). Yazdi continued by stating that "Rafsanjani has emphasized that an important foundation of government is the people, Rafsanjani has been and is absolutely wrong in this". Yazdi described the protesters as "misguided youth under the influence of satellite TV" and concluded his talk by stating that "if he is in the Guardian Council he will not approve" Mousavi again, due to the fact that Mousavi has demonstrated contempt for any form of Law".

Ayatollah Jannati has also stated that, "The enemies must be aware that the Islamic establishment and people  will not surrender to anarchy and mayhem."

UPDATE 1215 GMT: Some more overnight news:

Parleman News reports [English translation] that IRIB has been blasted for its portrayal of yesterday's protesters- not only for playing down their protests, but for referring to supporters of Mousavi and Karroubi as "lawbreakers and outlaws". The opposition movement has long accused IRIB of taking a pro-government, anti-protest position.

From an EA source: "The choice of Esfandiar Rahim Mashai as Vice President is again causing a headache for Ahmadinejad. The choice of Rahim Mashai by Ahmadinejad has been interpreted by the reformist press and some hardliners (including Larijani) as another instance of Ahmadinejad's high handedness, stubbornness, and contempt for public opinion. Rahim Mashai, who made the headlines some time ago after being caught on video in a belly-dancing cabaret in Turkey, has caused other controversy by making statements such as "there is no boundary between Islam and infidels".

The conservative site Kabaronline, meanwhile, considers the choice of Rahim Mashai as VP to be an attempt at diverting attention from more "fundamental problems." [English translation]

UPDATE 1200 GMT: Posts are likely to be slower today as Enduring America's writers take some time offline for various personal commitments. Some overnight updates from our contacts:

Human rights activist Shadi Sadr has been arrested.

Intelligence minister Mohsen Ejehi, in a conference with various sections of the Revolutionary Guard and Basiji has voiced his support for Ahmadinejad's government:

"He implied that it is due to Ahmadinejad's policies that " in the last  year that Western and American politicians have referred to Iran as a great power" and referred to Iran as "the Islamic Republic of Iran". He then said that the American politicians are "ready to engage with Iran as equal and respectful partners". He also "claimed that the Americans have conceded the nuclear energy issue to Iran and are willing to have unconditional dialogue with Iran and are willing to work with Iran to solve regional and global problems, " and that Israel with the help of the People's Mojahedin Party plan to assassinate Ahmadinejad.
Ejehi went on to say that the opposition movement contains "dastardly elements"- ie the US, Israel and other Western countries, the Royalists, the Freedom Front and the Iranian opposition parties.  Ejehi claimed that all of these groups want Ahmadinejad gone and this removal was a high priority for Rafsanjani.  After blasting all three opposition candidates Ejehi also made the surprising claim that "after the televised debate between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad it became absolutely clear that Ahmadinejad is the winner." Ejehi accused the Mousavi camp of rigging the pre-election polls. He subsequently claimed that 3 days before the election the "Mousavi camp knew they had lost so they decided to question the whole process by bringing forth accusations of fraud". As a parting shot, he said that the opposition leaders "taxed the patience of the Supreme Leader by their rude and insulting behavior during their meeting with him" and expressed surprise that although "the Supreme Leader with saintlike humility had listened to their concerns and offered his advice" they still persisted in their "unlawful behavior."


The nervousness over Hashemi Rafsanjani's address at Friday prayers in Tehran was soon replaced by excitement, even euphoria. Immediate interpretations proclaimed the former President's call for all detainees to be released, on his criticism of the Guardian Council's supervision of elections, and on his upholding of the right --- even the duty --- to protest.

That euphoria has continued this morning. Activists are urging readers to sign an on-line letter of thanks to Rafsanjani. Others have gone beyond the speech to talk of "police officers [being with] us.. They were even secretly showing us the V for Victory sign!" Demonstrators have been re-invigorated. Already The Mothers of Mourning have asked people to join them for their Saturday gatherings at parks.

Meanwhile, the regime's discomfort is apparent in its news line this morning. Rather than rebutting Rafsanjani, state media are bringing out the spectre of Israel. Press TV is headlining on a secret US-Israel meeting to focus on Israel, while other outlets are indulging in the claim of an Israeli plan to assassinate President Rafsanjani Ahmadinejad.

So a victory to the Green Movement. But it is a victory that poses the question: "What Next?", not necessarily in plans for protest but in substantive political and legal demands.

Early in the crisis the answer was easy: reverse the declaration of victory for Ahmadinejad. That option has receded, however, by the passage of time. (Although, if I were the President, I would not be as enthusiastic today about the inauguration scheduled for between 2 and 6 August.)

Nor is this a platform for revolution. Despite some rather asinine hyperbole in the "West" (see Martin Amis, who apparently is a Very Important Writer, in The Guardian on Friday), the Green Movement has not sought the toppling of the system. The scope for action has been, and will continue to be, reform.

So, for example, a straightforward call of Release the Detainees poses the broader challenge. What changes should be sought in not only the security apparatus but also the judicial system to ensure that the regime cannot resort to mass detentions in future?

In the political sphere, the call will not be to remove the Supreme Leader (the specific demands on that position have been the assurance that the successor to Ali Khamenei cannot be a hand-picked hardliner, such as his son Mojtaba). But what limits, if any, should be placed on his authority, given the Iranian system's principle of the ultimate clerical jurist? Practically speaking, will there be an insistence that the Leader never again intervene in electoral politics, as happened on June 12?

And what of the complex machinery beyond the Supreme Leader? In the maze of institutions (at least for an outsider like me), how does one re-distribute or even abrogate the powers of Guardian Council, Expediency Council, Assembly of Experts, Parliament, etc.? And is there any possibility of putting formal oversight in place for the Revolutionary Guard, rather than the informal arrangement that leads to a lack of accountability if not a de facto sharing of political power and economic interests between the Guard and the President?

For me, the possible answer lies not in immediate proposals but new formations to "channel" demands. Almost overtaken, by the Friday prayers and the powerful figure of Rafsanjani, was the news of a possible "political front" involving Mir Hossein Mousavi. That development, if allowed by the regime, would put the Movement back into the "ordinary" day-to-day of politics. But given the expectations of the Movement, and the realities that political manoeuvre vs. a hostile President and legislative action (not to mention the Supreme Leader's endorsement) take time, is that enough?

None of this is to diminish either the specifics of yesterday's events or the general phenomenon of the Green Movement. It's just a reminder, in an Iran of "gradual revolution", of marathon not sprint.

Reader Comments (16)

your analysis correct mostly however to think that now ppl will let luck warm reform and let go after having 100s of martyrs and 1000s under detention and terror with basij animals, destroying properties, killing and raping go unanswered, you have another thing coming.
This is a revolution till victory for Free Iran, down with dictators

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterneda

[...] bottle for the Genie? According to Scott Lucas on his great blog Enduring America (The Latest from Iran (18 July): A Victory Followed By…..? | Enduring America) Rafsanjani's speech created in Tehran "excitement, even euphoria. Immediate interpretations [...]

[...] what now? 18. Juli 2009 — Thomas v. der Osten-Sacken Hier ein Artikel, der die Lage am “Tag danach” treffend zusammenfasst. gegen ihren Willen haben die [...]

[...] July 18, 2009 [...]

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterE-Ron « Don’t Try

[...]Press TV is headlining on a secret US-Israel meeting to focus on Israel, while other outlets are indulging in the claim of an Israeli plan to assassinate President Rafsanjani.[...]

Minor correction:

[...]assasinate President Ahmadinejad.[...]

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterA.

Has there been any word about what is happening in cities beyond Tehran? I understand that it's easier for militia and thugs to suppress protests where the population is lower, but wondered if there is any news of demonstrations or other forms of civil disobedience.

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

[...]Almost overtaken, by the Friday prayers and the powerful figure of Rafsanjani, was the news of a possible “political front” involving Mir Hossein Mousavi. That development, if allowed by the regime, would put the Movement back into the “ordinary” day-to-day of politics.[...]

It's not either-or. The movement has shown the capacity to work on the streets and elsewhere in protest and civil disobedience independently of their political leadership. Pressure on all fronts is essential to bringing about reforms.

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSomeguy

A.- thanks for the correction, I've updated the post to read "assassinate President Ahmadinejad."

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike Dunn

Is there a link to the Press TV report on the assassination plot? Highly unlikely they forgot who the President was, it could be "President Rafsanjani." Presidents still hold the title once out of office (example President Clinton).

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJosh Mull


The assassination plot was referred to directly by Ejehi in his speech to the RG and other see above. In this Ejehi directly said there was a plot to assassinate Ahmadinejad by Israel.

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTranslator

My pleasure.

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterA.


Excellent! Thanks very much for the clarification

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJosh Mull

[...] ist zudem in einem Istanbuler Bauchtanzlokal und mit unorthoxen religiösen Bemerkungen aufgefallen. Ob Mahmoud im Privaten ein so ganz anderer ist? Was ist der Kitt dieser Männerfreundschaft? Eine [...]

[...] Die Hardliner melden sich und haben Probleme 18. Juli 2009 — Thomas v. der Osten-Sacken Mr. Yazdi poltert, droht und hat doch ein großes Problem. [...]

[...] The Latest from Iran (18 July) | Enduring America: [...]

[...] here to read the rest: The Latest from Iran (18 July): A Victory Followed By … Share and [...]

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