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The Latest from Iran (21 July): No Lull in the Cycle of Protest

The Latest from Iran (22 July): “The Pendulum Swings” Towards Opposition

NEW Iran Video: The Protests Continue (21 July)
NEW Iran Video: Ahmadinejad Failure in Mashaad? (17 July)
The Latest from Iran (20 July): How Far Can This Go?

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IRAN GREEN2200 GMT: Press TV jumps in on the debate over the choice of Iran's 1st Vice President, and it is siding with the Supreme Leader rather than President Ahmadinejad:
A senior Iranian parliamentarian says the Leader of the Islamic Revolution has advised the president to reverse his decision in appointing Esfandyar Rahim-Masha'i as his top deputy.

"Without any delay, the removal or acceptance of Masha'i's resignation must be announced by the president," Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, the first Majlis [Parliament] vice speaker, told the Iranian Students News Agency on Tuesday....The removal of Rahim-Masha'i from key positions and presidential deputies is the collective decision of the political establishment.”

1930 GMT: No confirmed reports on whether the "power overload" protest scheduled for 9 p.m. local time (1630 GMT) succeeded in causing blackouts, although there were unconfirmed claims that parts of Tehran, Karaj, and Qazvin lost power.

1910 GMT: The pro-Green Movement website Mowj-e-Sabz confirms that, in addition to Sunday's demonstrations in Tehran and Shiraz, there were sizable protests in Tabriz.

1900 GMT: A source expands on our post about Hashemi Rafsanjani's sharp response today to Ayatollah Khamenei:
Rafsanjani's website has recently posted a part of his memoirs that can be interpreted as a retort to Khameini's not so well concealed threats. The key section of this posting is as follows:

"An individual must not be intimidated by anything in this world. Whenever an individual faces a test it is insufficient to only have good intentions and unacceptable to limit oneself to empty slogans and claims. Each generation faces a test and challenge and the greatest test a man faces is when because of his love to god he is asked to sacrifice his spouse, his children and his capital. One must be brave."

Rafsanjani's website concludes the preceding paragraph with the following commentary: "The ironclad strength of these words indicate that the young Rafsanjani in his "struggle for the rights of people", had been well schooled by the great Khomeini on how to move beyond fear."

1845  GMT: We've posted the first video from today's protests in a separate entry.

1745 GMT: A Showdown between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei? Yes, you read that right. A source confirms our report (1600 GMT) that the Supreme Leader has ordered the President to force the resignation of his Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. However, an update claims that Ahmadinejad has insisted in an interview that the VP will remain in office: "Rahim-Mashai is a great supporter of the Islamic Regime, is a great believer in the principle of supreme leadership, leads a simple life and has served the public with distinction. He has been chosen as a VP and will continue to serve."

1740 GMT: I apologise for this morning's inaccurate headline, "A Lull in the Cycle of Protest". It has now been changed.

1730 GMT: BBC English has decided that maybe, just maybe, it should be paying attention to Iran again. I am listening to a report from Jon Leyne, who had been evicted from the country, has been brought back to say, "The pendulum could be swinging back to the opposition." He adds that he has heard from a source inside Iran that "defiance is growing". He concludes, "The system has been badly damaged by this....This is a country in the throes of change." The BBC website is also reporting that "hundreds, even thousands" of people protested.

1700 GMT: Reports, as with previous protests, that cellphone service cut in central Tehran. Claims that Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting facilities surrounded by special forces as crowds chant slogans.

1600 GMT: According to Parleman News, the Supreme Leader ordered President Ahmadinejad to remove his choice as Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, who is also the father of Ahmadinejad's daughter-in-law: “Without any delay, the dismissal order or Mashaei’s resignation must be announced by the President.” (NIAC Insight has an English summary.)

1550 GMT: Al Arabiya, citing "a witness", is now headlining, "Iran police clash with protesters", with hundreds at 7 Tir Square and dozens detained: "The witness said the protesters were chanting slogans against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the government, including 'Ahmadinejad -- resign, resign' and 'Death to the dictator'.

1510 GMT: Reports that protests are building in Tehran, particularly near 7 Tir Square. Reuters is first "mainstream" agency to report clashes with security forces.

1440 GMT: Reports of clashes between demonstrators and security forces at Vali-e Asr Square in Tehran and Cinema Saadi Cross in Shiraz. People have moved to 7 Tir Square Square, but claims of attacks with tear gas as security forces hold the squares.

1430 GMT: The text of the letter addressed to the Speaker of the Parliament, Ali Larijani by two pro-Mousavi advisors --- Bijan Zanganeh, Minister of Petroleum in the Khatami Government and Moussavi's liason with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, and Abbas Akhoondi, a prominent Professor of Law at Tehran University and Mousavi's liason with the Guardian Council --- with a "fundamental framework of the proposed solution" has now been posted on the Internet.

The letter was sent on 20 June but only released on Sunday (see our updates on 19 July for a summary).

1400 GMT: The Ultimate Enemy - More on the denunciation of the Khatami call for referendum by Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari (see 1130 GMT). Shariatmadari has claimed the proposal has the "same instructions as Michael Ledeen, read the CIA" have proposed for regime change in Tehran. Ledeen, a rabid critic of the Iranian system who pressed for military action to overthrow it in 2003, is based at the American Enterprise Institute.

1130 GMT: Holding the Line. "Conservative" newspapers have denounced the call by former President Khatami and the Assocation of Combatant Clergy for a referendum on the legitimacy of the Government. Hossein Shariatmadari, appointed by the Supreme Leader as the managing director of Kayhan, echoed Ayatollah Khamenei's "foreign intervention" theme, "They have suggested yet another Western plot to raise havoc by proposing a referendum. The main idea of this plan is to trigger tension. Their proposal is illegal and impractical." An editorial in Khabar asserted, "Such controversial proposals, despite their appeal to protestors... challenge the basis of the system. A referendum would create challenges which our country cannot harbour and it would incite unrest instead of building confidence."

1010 GMT: Reports that today's march, commemorating a 1952 rally for the Government of Mohammad Mossadegh, will take place at 3 p.m. local time (1030 GMT) from Rezaie Square to Mossadegh's tomb.

1000 GMT: The chief of Iran's police, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, has accused the opposition of "inciting sedition" and declared his force would act firmly to uphold the law. "Some people who failed to realize their election goal go on spreading doubt in different ways and then turn that ... into inciting sedition," Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam said. "This group of individuals voice the slogan of law abidance but they themselves do not observe the law ... they are sheer liars."

0945 GMT: The Battle is On, Round Two. No more questions, as in the first weeks of the post-election conflict, as to whether Hashemi Rafsanjani will work only behind the scenes. The former President has taken on the Supreme Leader's Monday speech, writing in a quote from his memoirs, "There is a test for every generation. People's issues are the most important test for this one."

0645 GMT: More on Mousavi meeting with detainees' families (see 0500 GMT). A valued source sends in these quotes from the opposition leader:
[Connecting the arrested with foreign governments] is a defensive tactic employed by individuals that that are threatened by [the idea] of people being free. This [fictititious] connection only serves as a pretext and justification, but everyone knows what these arrests are really about. Our people know that these arrested individuals have gentle and impressive personalities that have served this establishment for many years and it would be impossible to believe that any of them will sell National Interests to foreigners.....[These allegations] are an insult to the public's vote and their intelligence and will have its unsavory consequences.

The Iranian people saw corruption in the election process and sponteneously rallied to defend their rights. This wave of indignation will not be quenched by thousands or even ten thousands of arrests....We are stating that what has happened is against the law and against the ideals of the revolution and against the constitution and against the will of the people.

A government that establishes itself by hook or crook will be a weak government. It will be a government that will give major concessions to foreign governments, because it lacks popular support. Returning people's trust [to government] has an extremely high priority for us, because a loss of this trust may have serious consequences for our country."

[Upholding] individual freedoms of the people has a can ensure the security of society in a much more positive way than security crackdowns with wooden and metal clubs, in fact these crackdowns compromise the security of our country. Our people are much more mature [to deserve] a regression to pre-revolutionary unacceptable methods.

0635 GMT: Keeping It in the Family. President Ahmadinejad may have been rebuffed in his attempt to name the father of his daughter-in-law as a Vice President, but Mowj-e-sabz claims that Ahmadinejad's son-in-law Mehdi Khorshidi will be the head Presidential Secretary, and the husband of Ahmadinejad's sister-in-law will be the head of the Iranian national youth organization.

0625 GMT: An intriguing follow-up reports on Sunday's demonstrations in Shiraz (see video in our updates for 19 July) in the Ehsan ampitheatre. The website Mowj-e-sabz claims that this rally, "a gathering of the election campaign managers of Mousavi and Karroubi", is the "first official gathering of the reformists after the elections and it also is the first gathering of the reformers that has a permit".

Given that the Government has not given a permit for demonstration in Tehran since 15 June, apart from the Beheshti memorial at Qoba mosque on 28 June, this rally was likely to have received permission from provincial officials. So who are they and will they now face retribution from the regime?

0600 GMT: There are reports that protestors will turn out on the streets today, linking the demonstration to one on the same day in 1952 in support of the nationalist Government of Mohammad Mossadegh.

0500 GMT: The crisis in Iran has now "settled", if that word can be used, into a rhythm in which a prominent show of opposition is followed by a regime reaction and then a few days of quiet. Friday's address by Hashemi Rafsanjani brought a response from the Supreme Leader yesterday, and this morning both sides are taking a step back to assess the position. The one scheduled event for today is the "power overload" protest for 9 p.m. local time, with demonstrators hoping to black out the national news by switching on electrical appliances.

Josh Shahryar's "Green Brief" summarises one notable development, the meeting of Mir Hossein Mousavi with families of detainees. The opposition leader is using these occasions not only to show support for the detained and their relatives but also to indicate that protest has not ebbed and to set out political positions. Yesterday he said the Green Movement was peaceful but was ready to make sacrifices, declaring, “The Iranian Nation had matured and that the use of pre-1979 tactics wouldn’t be enough to silence it....The Nation had been reborn and was going to defend its achievements.”

Mousavi asked the government to ensure freedom of speech and condemned ongoing arrests. And, in a rebuttal to the line of the Supreme Leader, he said it was “an insult to the Iranian Nation to suggest that foreigners had orchestrated the post-election protests in Iran".

Mousavi's Facebook page also continues to be an active location to challenge the Government. This morning it has countered an appearance by the Iranian Foreign Minister, declaring, "WE ARE THE MEDIA!" It is featuring the call by the Association of Combatant Clergy for a referendum on the legitimacy of the Government (see yesterday's updates), and it is highlighting a video, which allegedly shows a lack of public turnout for President Ahmadinejad's appearance in Mashaad on Friday (see separate entry).

Reader Comments (6)

[...] The Latest from Iran (21 July): The Lull in the Cycle of Protest … Share and [...]

Interesting to read that Ahmadinejad has chosen to resist the word of supreme leader in naming his VP. It is one of the better developments of the day.
It may be a way out, his insistent and subsequent resignation, for not being allowed to name his cabinet, can readily be sold as an all around face saving measure. Or my cynical side tells me its all a side show to distract the people. His subsequent agreement with Khamenei then used as a show of how a good politician leader behaves in front of the supreme leader.
I doubt either will work in capturing the peoples attention for long and to quench the flames of protest. People seem to be getting braver and more daring with each passing protest. The rhythm of small weekly activity followed by a major event seems to be getting faster and the swings larger. I feel the pain of the ordinary people. Our collective hearts goes out to them

July 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwhereismyvote

I thought the exact same thing -- that this might be a face-saving way for Ahmadinejad to resign. It's a long shot, but it seems very odd for him to pick this fight right now.

July 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJesse Livermore

I don't know what you mean by "sizeable protests" in Tabirz. It was a dinner of religious-nationalist and liberal forces. Granted, the hall was full, but the article gave the number of attendees at 400.

July 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEvan


I take the point. Better expression would have been first significant confirmation that opposition is mobilising publicly in Tabriz.


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