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Entries in Keeping the Change (6)


Iran: English Text of Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi Letter to Grand Ayatollahs (25 July)

The Latest from Iran (27 July): A President Dangling in the Wind?

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MOUSAVI KHATAMIUPDATE (27 July, 1900 GMT): Ayatollah Yousuf Sanei has offered the first response to the letter:
The people according the the constitution must be in charge of their fate. Therefore we must move in a direction that logic, freedom of speech, honesty and defending human rights will replace oppression, perfidy, injustice, and torture --- concepts that are the results of selfish and autocratic and unpopular governments. Unfortunately....we have been witnessing the defamation, perfidy, imprisonment, oppression, torture, and even killing of those people who have peacefully demonstrated to defend their rights.

Therefore, due to the necessity that is religiously incumbent upon me to prevent the tyranny of oppressors, I declare to all individuals who are responsible (either by participation or causation) of subjecting the people to killings, brutal physical violence, imprisonment and torture in prisons..that oppressing people that have only God to defend them qualifies as one of the worst kinds of mortal sin....and all such individuals must repent and try to obtain the forgiveness of those whom they have oppressed...and in fact attend to the kindly advice of Ayatollah that the Government does not add any more sins to its already heavy conscience....I also would like to reiterate to you [Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi], and all beloved citizens of Islamic Iran both within and without the country, and to all of those that are trying to provide a conduit so that the voice of the protesters to the election can be heard: do not let the pressures, violence and suppressions to cause you to lose heart and thereby allow the will of the oppressors to happen....

I thank God for the fact that you gentlemen by maintaining a united front...have been able concurrently to attract the support of the people especially that of the younger generation....[Your efforts] in defending the rights of humanity and popular governance will leave a long lasting mark in society.

On Saturday, our correspondent Mani broke the news (0900 GMT): "In an open letter, a number of reformist politicians led by Mohammad Khatami, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have asked the Grand Ayatollahs of Qom to remind 'relevant segments of the establishment' of 'the dire consequences” of their 'anti-legal methodologies'. The letter asks the Grand Ayatollahs to intervene to free the current post-election detainees."

Subsequently, Keeping the Change evaluated: “Should the Reformists be able to win over a majority of the marjahs [high-ranking clerics], it…would constitute the serious religiously-based challenge to the regime’s behavior that the Reformists have been after, but have heretofore been unable to obtain.”

The English translation of the letter, provided by Mir Hossein Mousavi's Facebook page:

In the name of God, the Compassionate and the Merciful

To the honourable grand Marjahs (may God keep them for us):

Greetings. As you are aware, at the same time as the announcement of the results of the tenth presidential election, an extensive wave of arrests of many campaign activists from the non-governmental candidates as well as citizens who took part in the peaceful demonstrations started, which in its continuation, because of the expansion of the people’s objections to the various and extensive violations that happened before, during and after the election, has increased and is still ongoing. The individual or group arrests of the people in different social classes such as University professors, political activists and journalists, without the legal warrant and by violent confrontations and use of interrogation methods that are reminiscence of the dark days of Shah’s ruling, which most of the individuals signing this letter were for several times victims of them during those days, under no circumstances is and will be appropriate for a government and a country that claims to have established justice and fairness, and will taint Islamic Republic’s face in hearts and spirits of every Iranian and in world spotlight.

Even more disastrous is the fact that the security systems are insisting on proving their fictional and completely wrong theories for introducing the activists as foreign agents or intriguers of velvet revolution, and for this reason have committed to unlawful, unethical and illegitimate attempts to get confessions. The governmental propaganda tools and especially IRIB (the state-run televisions and radios) are taking part in this project and by presenting staged confessions try to prove such imaginary accusations against the movement of the people which has formed only to protect the “republic” in the government. These days the worried families, left unaware of the fate of their loved ones whom their only crime is having had an active role in the campaigns of the non-governmental candidates, are facing closed doors in their repeated inquiries to the officials. The conspirator organizations have elevated the situation to a degree that are portraying membership in the campaigns as an unforgivable crime; and this is despite the fact the departed founder of the Revolution (Imam Khomeini) and the high-ranked officials of the government have encouraged and approved such activities. Really based on what legal, religious or logical principle can one explain the practice of repeated torture against those who live under the protection of Islam? And with silence in front of all this violence and cruelty, how can one brag about the kindness of the government that has set the religion of Mohammad as its guidance? These days receiving disturbing news about the physical and mental health of several of the detainees has added to the uncertainties. The principle of being innocent [until proven guilty] and avoiding prejudgment are easily overlooked (“Judging the trusted by relying on the assumption is against justice”) and violating the rights stated in the constitution and ordinary laws has become routine and of course will have no outcome other than elevating public mistrust and distancing them from the government. These uncertainties and anxieties have shadowed over the lives of a large number of Iranian citizens; and because of the practice of illegal means and the narcissism of the security forces on one hand and the patriotism and loyalty to the Islamic Republic as well as reluctance toward petitioning to the international authorities on the other hand, have created a very difficult situation for the families of the prisoners.

The only way out of this situation is clear and strong action for stopping the militarization of the environment after the election, cutting off the hands of irresponsible agents, releasing all detainees and returning the process of investigation of the accusations to its legal course. We plea to you, the Maraje, as being the reference and support of the great nation of Iran, to remind the government about the damaging outcomes of their unlawful acts and warn them about the expansion of oppression in the Islamic Republic. All this was mentioned in accordance with the words of the Imam of justice that “people will not improve unless the government does, and the government won’t improve unless by the persistence of people” and we call almighty God as our witness that we are not thinking about anything other than the improvement in the affairs of the country and the people.

With wishing you peace and the kindness of God and his blessings

Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, Mehdi Karoubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Morteza Alviri, Seyyed Kazem Akrami, Rahim Abolhasani, Mahnaz Azarnia, Ahmadipour, Jamshid Ansari, Seyyed Hashem Aghajari, Mohsen Armin, Ghorban Behzadian-Nejad, Saeed Bigdeli, Mohammad Bagherian, Mohsen Beheshti-Seresht, Behnam Bohloumi, Ali Bagheri, Hasan Bigham, Alireza Beheshti-Shirazi, Mohammad-Reza Tajik, Mohammad Taghikhani, Mohsen Tarkashvand, Mohammad-Ali Tofighi, Mehdi Tahaghoghi, Abed Jafari, Seyyed Mohammad-Reza Hosseini-Beheshti, Seyyed Ali-Reza Hosseini-Beheshti, Najafgholi Habibi, Ali-Mohammad Hazeri, Seyyed Mahmoud Hosseini, Farhad Darvish-Setalani, Abdolreza Rokneldin-Eftekhari, Mohsen Rahami, Mohammad Rahimian, Masoud Roughani-Zanjani, Ali Zamani, Saeed Semnanian, Ali Saee, Mohammad Salamati, Gholamreza Shah-Hosseini, Mohammad Shahrestanaki, Mahmoud Sadeghi, Hosein Sadeghi, Abdollah Tootian, Gholamreza Zarifian, Mohammad-Reza Zafarghandi, Ali Arabmazar-Yazdi, Ali-Akbar Enayati, Hassan Azimi, Seyyed Nour-Mohammad Aghili, Abas Abdi, Mohammad-Reza Ali-Hosseini, Faramarz Falahi, Mohammad Farhadi, Hossein Forotan, Abolfazl Ghadiani, Mohammad-Kazem Kouhi, Abolfazl Kazazi, Farshad Moumeni, Abas Manouchehri, Mohammad Moghadam, Ali Mohades, Hossein Mortazavi, Hamid Mirzadeh, Korous Nik-Niayee, Abdollah Naseri, Mohammad-Ali Najafi, Seyyed Hashem Hedayati, Abas Yazdanfar.

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0630 GMT (26 July): An apology for an exaggeration in the previous entry. The editor of Kayhan did not apologise for the publication of Khamenei's letter; however, he regretted calling First Vice President Rahim-Mashai an "agent of the velvet coup" and claiming that President Ahmadinejad had abandoned the line of the Supreme Leader".

The interpretation, therefore, is not of a Presidential fightback but of a (token) face-saver for Ahmadinejad so he can return to his proper (now very limited) Presidential role in the current political battle.

2120 GMT: A Presidential Fightback? Evening news is dominated by the "United4Iran" demonstrations in 100+ cities across the world, but one intriguing development on the homefront. Ahmadinejad's advisors, through Press Secretary Ali Akbar Javanfekr,  have been criticising the media for publishing the Supreme Leader's letter about Vice President Rahim-Mashai yesterday.

They may have had some effect. This evening. the editor of Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari, appeared to apologise for the public attention given to the Khamenei order.

1720 GMT: The Opposition Politicians and Qom. More on the important news of the day, the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi letter to Grand Ayatollahs asking them to intervene to free detainees. Keeping the Change has an incisive analysis on both the immediate issue and the wider significance: "Should the Reformists be able to win over a majority of the marjahs [high-ranking clerics], it...would constitute the serious religiously-based challenge to the regime's behavior that the Reformists have been after, but have heretofore been unable to obtain."

1715 GMT: The Confessions Pressure Escalates. Allaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Parliamentary commission on national security and foreign policy has also stated his objections to broadcasting the confessions of detainees. Boroujerdi said that, during the meeting of this committee last week with Minister of Intelligence Ejeie, the minister stated "that legal issues make this broadcasting impractical".

1605 GMT: The Next Achilles' Heel? Member of Parliament Ali Motahari has stated: "If the confessions of the detainees are to be broadcast, all instances in which the interrogators have broken the law during the process which sometimes has lead to fatalities must also be investigated".

The statement, echoing the clerical fatwas of Ayatollah Sanei and Bayat-Zanjani, continues, "If these confessions were obtained under normal conditions they would have a useful role in enlightening the public, however, if they are obtained under irregularites they have no use at all....It is possible that the arrests themselves may be legal, but the important issue is whether the detainees have been treated according to islamic regulations, and have they been subjected to mental and physical pressures....We all must uphold the law and try to improve the current situation."

The significance is that Motahari, like Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, is considered a "principlist", the political bloc in Iran distinct from both "conservative" and "reformist" factions. With clerical pressure on the Government increasing, this could be an indication that some outside the Green Movement will be focusing on detentions and interrogations to demand changes in the system.

1600 GMT: Defending the Nation. The lead Iran story on Press TV's website today has been the statement by Revolutionary Guard commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari: "Iranian missiles have the capacity to target Israeli soil if the Zionist regime commits such stupidity including its nuclear sites."

I am sure that the content and timing of Jafari's statement have nothing to do whatsoever with the domestic blows to the Ahmadinejad Presidency, with which the Revolutionary Guard has been closely associated, in the last 48 hours.

1545 GMT: Reports of protests, and action by security forces to break them up, in Vanak and Azadi Squares in Tehran.

1340 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi's staff have vigorously denied any contact with foreign embassies over Iran's post-election conflict. The allegation was made on Friday both by Minister of Intelligence Ejeie and Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, the leader of Tehran's prayers.

1330 GMT: Report that Mohammad Reza Yazdan Panah, a journalist and member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been released from detention.

1035 GMT: I am in the midst of an interesting and challenging discussion with Kevin Sullivan of Real Clear World, sparked by a column by Joe Klein of Time. Which should come first: a focus on Iran and the nuclear issue or consideration of the internal political dynamics between the Government and the post-election Green Movement?

0950 GMT: How serious was the argument over the First Vice President? The head of Iran's armed forces, Major General Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi, had written President Ahmadinejad to ask for Rahim-Mashai's dismissal.

0935 GMT: The resignation letter of former First Vice President Rahim-Mashai has been published. Ahmadinejad's response has also appeared: " I had hoped that with the elimination of some negative pressure, you could remain in the First Deputy position."

0900 GMT: Our correspondent Mani sends in important news:
In an open letter, a number of reformist politicians led by Mohammad Khatami, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have asked the Grand Ayatollahs of Qom to remind "relevant segments of the establishment" of "the dire consequences" of their "anti-legal methodologies". The letter asks the Grand Ayatollahs to intervene to free the current post-election detainees.

The reformist politicians, stating that arrests have been done with "no legal justification" and have "blackened the name of the Islamic Republic both within Iran and abroad", declare, "The only solution to this situation would include the following: A clear and serious effort to stop the post-election atmosphere of fear and coercion caused by the increased presence of security forces, freeing all detainees, and restoration of the mechanisms by which the accusations of election irregulariites can be legally addressed."

They add, "The families of the detainees have been stonewalled by officials when they have tried to obtain legal recourse; this has caused many problems for these families". The "disturbing news" regarding the physical and mental well-being of the prisoners has exacerbated the level of anxiety already felt by these families.

The authors also challenge state media, calling Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting "the propaganda machine of the coerced confessions project". IRIB, "by broadcasting staged confessions, is attempting to prove spurious charges that have been made against a popular movement".

0725 GMT: Protests are being held in more than 100 cities across the world today in support of the Green Movement. Information is available on the United4Iran website.

0720 GMT: Amidst the uncertainty over how many of the 86 members of the Assembly of Experts have turned against Hashemi Rafsanjani (see 0645 GMT), one has made his position clear. Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Akbar Qoreyshi has written an open letter criticising Rafsanjani for not separating himself from the post-election opposition: “After the Leader’s strong defense [of you] in his Friday Prayers sermon, I told you in a letter that the leader’s defense had solved everything and it would be best that you apologize to him and tell the nation that you have nothing to do with your child or children’s actions....Unfortunately my letter was ignored.”

0710 GMT: More on Karroubi and Iran's Security Forces (see 0645 GMT). Mehdi Karroubi has criticized the treatment of detainees by the security forces in an open letter to Minister of Information Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie. Karroubi said recent information from reliable sources caused him deep concern about the conditions of confinement and demanded that Ejeie, carrying out his responsibilities, identify all parties responsible for recent horrific events and asserts that this is the minister's responsibility.

Karroubi, adidng that the withholding of information from the families of detainees is also a cause for great concern, concluded that it is a sorry state of affairs that citizens are treated so poorly by an Islamic Government.

0645 GMT: A relatively quiet Friday sprang into life during the afternoon with the emerging opposition, not only from the Supreme Leader but from across "conservative" ranks, to President Ahmadinejad over the Vice-Presidential appointment of Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. Ahmadinejad's capitulation last night is so significant that we've covered it in a separate analysis.

Meanwhile, Ayatollah Yousef Sanei has extended his public support of the protest movement with a fatwa moving religious blame from the detainee to the Iranian authorities:

1) If you are under arrest, coerced and put under extreme pressure and forced to make a false confession to stop torture, your false confession is not a sin. However, those responsible for such methods have committed a sin;
2) Confessions that are obtained under duress and torture have absolutely no validity in an Islamic court;
3) Under Islamic and Shia law, interminable interrogations, especially those done arround midnight, are absolutely forbidden.

Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri has issued a fatwa condemning the behaviour of the security forces towards Mehdi Karroubi as he arrived at Friday prayers in Tehran last week. In an incident picked up in widely-distributed photographs, Iranian police jostled Karroubi, knocking off his turban.

Covering the other side of the clerical debate, Keeping the Change digs into this week's supposed declaration of the 86-member Assembly of Experts reaffirming support of the Supreme Leader and, more importantly, seeking the dismissal of Hashemi Rafsanjani as head of the Assembly. The analysis notes the discrepancy between only 16 signatures and state media's claim that 50 clerics (in other words, a majority) support the declaration. In contrast to our own interpretation that this is a power-play by an important pro-regime minority on the Assembly, Keeping the Change concludes:
Many of the Assembly's members owe their positions to Khamanei and have deep loyalties to the Supreme Leader. For them to support the letter, while withholding their names, may be a compromise position that suits both their political passivity and their fidelity to Khamanei.

Iran: Playing the "National Security" Card

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

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IRAN DEMOS 15Maryam at Keeping the Change offers a concise, effective analysis of how the Iranian Government is trying to use threats to "national security" both to hold off and to denigrate the opposition movement:

The Issue of "National Security:" Government Spin in Two Press TV Reports

Two reports from the Government-sponsored Press TV on Tuesday highlighted the Regime's continuing efforts at recasting the current events inside Iran as matters of "national security." Press TV reported that Iranian police have clashed [for 7 hours] with unidentified gunmen in the city of Urumieh in the Province of Western Azerbaijan. No further information, images, or other tangible evidence is provided on this event. Press TV also reported that the Majlis' Foreign Policy and National Security Commission will present a report to Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Parliament, examining the post-June 12th events "in an effort to gain more experience [on such incidents] and prevent similar cases in the future."

These attempts at invoking "national security" as cover and justification for its crackdown on demonstrators and other dissidents may, in part, reflect the Government's awareness of a phenomenon analyzed and written about by several prominent Iran scholars, including Professor Homa Katouzian, for decades. Namely, Iranian history suggests that a reflexive aversion to instability and insecurity exists within Iranian society. According to this theory, Iranians have historically preferred rulership by a strong and autocratic leader to prolonged, nation-wide unrest. Whether or not this theory is in fact relevant to the current climate inside Iran, these Press TV reports are reminiscent of numerous other "incidents" that have occurred over the last weeks and together give the impression that the Government is intentionally manufacturing news to support its claims of a "national security" threat inside the country.

Amongst the most clearly incredible of these reports was the alleged "suicide bombing" at the Ayatollah Khomeini Shrine, on the outskirts of Tehran, on June 20, 2009, one of the bloodiest days of protests since the June 12th elections.

Read rest of article....

Iran: A Paintball Embargo?

Maryam from Keeping the Change notes a possible US link to the Iran's Government suppression of protests:
"Green" may be the color we now associate with the movement for reform in Iran, but it appears that the power of color is also not lost on government forces working to resist these calls for change. According to an eyewitness report sent to us by one of our readers, the Iranian police are using "paint balls" against demonstrating crowds. This eyewitness, who was in attendance at Rafsanjani's Friday sermon yesterday at Tehran University, claims that during demonstrations outside the University following Rafsanjani's speech, police forces launched paint balls at protestors. The account is confirmed by a piece published in Al-Arabiya newspaper yesterday, reporting that the Iranian police used paint balls and tear gas to disperse demonstrators, particularly around the Interior Ministry building.

Our eyewitness' report, however, suggests that the paint balls may not be used simply to disperse the crowds, but rather that a more nefarious strategy may also lie behind the paint ball - tactic. According to this person, the paint balls are used to single out protestors, who the police believe should be arrested.

Full story.

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1940 GMT: A contact reports that Ahmadinejad's business trip to Mashad could be met with opposition demonstrations. Online rumour has it that an 'assassination attempt' will be staged by the Ahmadinejad camp, which will provide an excuse to increase security and surveillance in Iran- which can then be used against the opposition.

1930 GMT: A group of scholars have released a letter in support of Ayatollah Ostadi, who said after leading prayers in Qom last Friday that they would be his last for the foreseeable future. [Link: Persian / English via iran88] One of the scholars is Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli. [Link: Persian / English]

1920 GMT: An article on the UG Government's Radio Farda site demonstrates the diversity of opinion over what may be in The Rafsanjani speech tomorrow. The staunchlly pro-Government Kayhan is asking for a "unifying speech that is worthy of a pillar of Islamic leadership", while members of the reformist party have stated that "generally speaking, Mr. Rafsanjani's speeches in Friday prayers  have always had large political significance with huge effects".

1715 GMT: A possibly significant development from Wikileaks on the resignation of Aghazadeh as head of the Iranian nuclear programme: "Week ago, source in Iran gave WL a report of a nuclear accident at Natanz. Now Iran's nuke head resigns-no reason. Anyone know more?"

1610 GMT: Twitter's IranRiggedElect states that Mehdi Karroubi will also attend Friday prayers. (AUT News link, in Persian).

1600 GMT: The Guardian has updated its database of dead and detained in Iran- it now contains almost 700 names.

1545 GMT: Twitter's iranbaan reports says that, "Etemade Melli newspaper reports that Mohammad Khatami, Mehdi Karroubi, Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Ali  Nategh Nouri will not attend Ahmadinejad's inauguration ceremony."

1230 GMT: How Big is This News? Iranian Students News Agency reports that the head of Iran's nuclear programme, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad almost three weeks ago.

It is unclear if the resignation is related to post-election conflict and why news of it was not released until now. An Enduring America correspondent notes, however, that the development could be very unsettling in the ongoing manoeuvres between Iran and the "West": "Aghazadeh was close to Ayatollah Khamenei but had also developed a good rapport with [former International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohammad] El-Baradei. He was one of the last of the Khatami-era officials."

Combined with Hillary Clinton's clumsy statement on Iran yesterday --- the US will "engage" but only to the end of September --- this news points to difficulties related to but beyond Iran's internal situation.

0835 GMT: Some public threats are being made that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami "will be beaten up" in Friday prayers. Possibly in response, the conservative newspaperKayhan has declared that " while some individuals claiming to be hezbollah [followers of the party] may engage in thuggish behavior, the intelligent Iranian public should recognize that this behavior is not hezbollah etiquette and should ostracize such individuals".

0830 GMT: More on the efforts of the Interior Ministry (0700 GMT) to check the protests. The ministry, which currently can authorise or ban political parties, has taken the unprecedented step of declaring that its permission is required for a "political front" of groups. The step comes after news this week that Mir Hossein Mousavi was seeking to form a front for the opposition challenge.

0745 GMT: Fintan Dunne has offered an estimate of 245 protester deaths since 12 June. We've posted an analysis in our separate blog on the casualties.

0700 GMT: The Regime Strikes Back (a Bit). Interior Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie shook a fist at the opposition in a press conference on Wednesday, claiming that the Intelligence Ministry enquiries into post-election conflict were finding culprits: "The role of some of these political figures has been proven and their case is nearing completion."

Beside putting out an unsubtle warning 48 hours before Friday prayers, Mohseni-Ejeie was also indicating that the Government would hold out against pressure to release detainees. As cases were still being investigated, "no exact time can be announced for their release." He added that confessions obtained from those arrested could be made public, should the country's judiciary decides to do so.

0500 GMT: Just over 24 hours to go before Friday prayers in Tehran, to be led by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, and all is relatively quiet in Iran. The one important exception was last night's confirmation by Mir Hossein Mousavi that he will join the march to the prayer site. The news, which broke on Mousavi's website and Facebook page, was reconfirmed three hours ago.

In the lull before the event, the most intriguing discussion has been of Rafsanjani's approach tomorrow. Maryam at Keeping the Change has an excellent consideration of "the delicate balancing act that Rafsanjani will likely play on Friday". Reviewing both the former President's objectives and the hopes and fears of the opposition movement, Maryam summarises from "a source in the Mousavi campaign": "They are expecting Rafsanjani's speech to unite the opposing factions, though they also believe he will speak about the rights of the people and be critical of the government's treatment of them during the election crisis."

That assessment points to some interesting realities and some even more interesting questions. Rafsanjani's emergence highlights the striking weakness of President Ahmadinejad, whose relegation to the sidelines has been further illustrated by his flight to Mashaad and thus his non-appearance in Tehran on Friday. Just as striking has been the recent silence of the Supreme Leader. I cannot recall a statement by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after the 18 Tir protests of last Thursday, which were scathing about the supposed role of his son, Mojtaba, in manipulating the election and leading security forces against the opposition.

But this is no means now a simple alliance of Rafsanjani with the Green Movement against the Government. Maryam's assessment points to the negotiation that is taking place between the former President, who after all was a key reason why Khameini ascended to the Supreme Leadership, and those who have been pressing for substantial change to the system. If Rafsanjani calls for a unity government, does Mousavi accept? Under what conditions? What of the reactions of Mehdi Karroubi, Mohammad Khatami, and other opposition leaders, some of whom still remain in detention? And how would the Rafsanjani appeal be received by a fragmented clerical leadership in Qom?

Maybe more importantly, is "compromise", if that is the word offered or hinted at by Rafsanjani, a word that will be accepted by a mass of protesters who have rallied but then been beaten --- verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically --- by those in power?