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Entries in Mehdi Karroubi (25)


The Latest from Iran (31 July): And Now....?

The Latest from Iran (1 August): The Regime Gets Tough

Iran: How Big is the Green Wave?
Iran's "40th Day" Memorial: An Eyewitness Account
Beyond the Wave: Why the US Still Engages with Iran

The Latest from Iran (30 July): Memorial Day
Latest Iran Video: The “40th Day” Memorial (30 July)
Latest Iran Video: The “40th Day” Memorial (30 July – Part 2)

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IRAN 40 DAY 31650 GMT: Release the Prisoners! I am just going to re-print this from Fars News Agency and await confirmation that 25 percent of Iran's prison population will soon be freed:
17,000 prisoners were freed after amnesty and commutation of punishment term of a number of prisoners by the Supreme Leader," State Prisons Organization's Deputy Director for Management and Resource Development Mohammad Ali Zanjirehi told FNA on Friday.

"40 percent of the country's inmates, who account for around 68,000 people, were liable to the amnesty," Zanjirei said, adding that 17,000 out of the 68,000 inmates have been freed and the rest have enjoyed commutation of their terms or will be granted leaves in final months of their incarceration.

The decree, originally proposed by Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, was issued by the Leader on the occasion of the feast of Mab'ath, marking assignment of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to prophethood.

1555 GMT: Don't Forget That Foreign Threat. Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, who has been gone unnoticed since the 12 June election, popped up today to appear at Friday prayers in Tehran and then try his hand with the "foreign agents" speech:
Western and European countries, with their overt and covert capabilities, interfered in Iran's election... the worst among them being Britain. The countries who interfered through their television networks by telling how to instigate riots, build explosives and other tension creating activities are accomplices in all the committed crimes, murders and are held responsible.

1540 GMT: Some, However, Are Not Ready for Compromise. Defying calls for concilation, the Ministry of Intelligence has threatened the Freedom Movement of Iran (the party of nationalist Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in the 1950s) with dire consequences if they do not stop holding political meetings inside their headquarters. The Party has lodged an official complaint with the head of Iran's judiciary.

1535 GMT: Look Past Jannati. The trend in clerical statements in the last 24 hours, apart from Friday prayers in Tehran, has been a call for compromise and action on detainees (see 1510 and 1520 GMT). That fits a report from Salaam News that Grand Ayatollahs have been discussing vital "issues", and most except Ayatollah Noori-Hamedani (an ardent Ahmadinejad supporter) "have taken a similar stance against the attacks of fundamentalism".

1520 GMT: A Different Prayer Address. If Ayatollah Jannati played the hard-liner in Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini played the liberal in Qom. Amini stated:
The young have sensitive souls and do not tolerate injustice, and we must not label the young as being anti-revolutionaries and try to distance them from the revolution....The words of the young must be heard, and if they are correct, [what they say] must be accepted. If it is not right they must be advised correctly with gentle tones and respect. The young must be advised to value this revolution that was achieved at great cost to society....We must keep the young by our side not be words but by deeds and by showing them the real face of Islam.

Amini addressed specific issues such as detention, saying , the directive of Iran's head of  judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, clarifying the situation of the prisoners, "must be attended to... to alleviate the anxiety of their families....I wish Mr Sharoudi would have stated that the detainees and the arrested will be treated with Islamic kindness." At the same time, he supported Ayatollah Khamenei's authority, "The principle of supreme leadership is an important foundation of the establ0ishment and we all have the duty to protect this principle."

1515 GMT: Shajarian Wins! We have reported on the case of the Iranian classical singer Mohamad Reza Shajarian, who demanded that Iranian state media stop playing his music after President Ahmadinejad called his opponents "dust". The Deputy Head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting has declared, "From now on, no more Shajarian will be broadcast from IRIB, even during Ramadan."

1510 GMT: Looking for Compromise. Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, addressing pilgrims at the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashad yesterday, said different political factions should stop fighting and meet with each other to reach an agreement, moving away from the "literature of conflict that exists in the media". The ayatollah said the issues of the prisoners must be resolved quickly; those who are innocent or whose misdemeanors are forgivable by Islamic kindness should be freed immediately, and hthose who have broken the law significantly must have their cases resolved quickly.

1315 GMT: Ahh, There He Is. Having cleared out of Tehran before yesterday's events, President Ahmadinejad has used a speech in Mashaad today to assure everyone that, despite portrayals by his political rivals, there is no rift between him and the Supreme Leader:
This is not a political relationship ... our relationship is based on kindness. It is like a relationship between a father and his son. Your efforts will bear no fruit. This road is closed for those devils who dream about harming our relationship. Their dream will be buried along with them.

The summary from Reuters gives no indication whether Ahmadinejad referred to the dispute with Ayatollah Khamenei over the appointment of the 1st Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. At Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Jannati, while defending Ahmadnejad against "plotters", did bring up the matter: ""Such appointments hurt your supporters ... A key position should not be given to a person who is not respected."

In light of that criticism, is Ahmadinejad's speech a gesture of apology to the Supreme Leader, ahead of his inauguration on 5 August, or will he try to restore some political authority and independence?

1300 GMT: Tehran Police Commander Azizollah Rajabzadeh has said 50 people were arrested in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery and the Grand Mosala yesterday.

1205 GMT: More on Jannati's Address (see 1130 GMT). The Ayatollah highlighted the statement of 205 Members of Parliament in support of the Supreme Leader (which, of course, does not mean that they support Ahmadinejad). He carried out the confrontation with Hashemi Rafsanjani by returning to the disputed letter from the Assembly of Experts. Even though this was signed by only 16 of 86 members, it was still valid; most of those who could not sign, because they were scattered throughout the country for the summer, supported the initiative.

1145 GMT: An intriguing comment from a participant in Lara Setrakian's summary of yesterday's memorial: "Police were sympathetic with the people [and] told us in which row we could find Neda's grave."

1130 GMT: Getting Tough. Unfortunately, the live tweet of Ayatollah Jannati's address broke down halfway through; however, Fars News has now posted a report, and it's clear that Jannati is ready for a fight.

The Ayatollah claimed that there were those who plotted four years ago to keep President Ahmadinejad out of power, despite his 7-million vote majority and that these people were now trying "to take revenge". In the face of this threat, there should be no question of legimitacy: "If the election is invalid, then all elections of the last 30 years should be declared invalid because the process has always been the same."

Nor was Jannati subtle in his religious context for this political assertion, highlighting Prophet Mohammad's facing of his enemies and his resolve to maintain unity.

It doesn't take a genius to do the rhetorical and political mathematics. In 2005 President Ahmadinejad's second-round opponent was Hashemi Rafsanjani, the man whom Jannati is trying to depose as head of the Assembly of Experts. Welcome to the next round of this heavyweight battle.

1125 GMT: We're trying to track down an English-language summary of Ayatollah Jannati's address. Press TV English's website is silent.

0900 GMT: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a key member of the regime as Secretary of the Guardian Council, is giving the address at Friday prayers in Tehran today. (Jannati was one of the pro-Government members of the Assembly of Experts who tried to curb Hashemi Rafsanjani last week, putting out a statement signed by only 16 of the 86 representatives on the Assembly.)

So far the address is focusing on the need for unity, citing a petition from the Prophet Mohammad, the Yasrab, and calling on people to follow the regime. It is being "live tweeted" at the moment.

0700 GMT: Two items of note from The Huffington Post. First, Kevin Sullivan asserts, "Western Hubris Won't Reform Iran". While I differ from Sullivan's reading of developments inside Iran, his conclusion is valuable:
All of this is terribly exciting. It's also out of our control, and that's a good thing. History often needs the proper room to breathe, not the breathless instigation of a hubristic few.

Let these "greens" grow on their own.

Which makes it just a bit ironic that, in the same paper, Melody Moezzi is proclaiming, "Iran's Red Tulip Revolution".

Humble suggestion: don't impose a label on this movement. Not a plant like "Cedar". Not a colour like "Orange" or "Rose". And certainly not "Velvet".

0650 GMT: The Wall Street Journal, relying on a leaked document, reports:
A privately owned German company, Knauf Gips KG, warned its Iranian employees working in Iran that they would be immediately dismissed if caught in antigovernment protests....

Iran's government pressured Knauf to issue the order after a senior executive was arrested during Friday prayer demonstrations two weeks ago, according to people familiar with the case. The company, which has 22,000 employees around the world, was told that such a letter would be a condition for the executive's release.

An executive of Knauf, which makes drywall, warned in the letter:
We would like to remind all of our employees to remember that they are not only representing their private opinion when being politically active, but their actions could fall back negatively on our Knauf companies in Iran. Therefore, from now on, if anybody from our company gets caught demonstrating against the current government, he or she will be immediately dismissed.

0630 GMT: A quieter start today, so we've taken the opportunity to write a special analysis of what may be next both for the Iranian Government and for the opposition, "How Big is the Green Wave?".

0505 GMT: Press TV English's latest report is one of cautious understatement, both of the events and of numbers: "Police have dispersed hundreds of Iranians who sought to gather in a cemetery south of the capital of Tehran to commemorate those killed in the post-election unrest." The brief item, however, did refer to police use of tear gas, to the appearance of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi (before he was turned back by security forces), and to the mourners' attempts to gather at the Grand Mosala.

While there was no reference to demonstrations elsewhere in Tehran and outside the capital, Press TV is also refraining from language criticising the protestors and their challenge to the 12 June election.

0500 GMT: News of a death that was lost amidst yesterday's memorial: "On Wednesday, the Paris-based monitoring group Reporters Without Borders urged authorities to explain the death of journalist Alireza Eftekhari on June 15. His body was handed over to relatives on July 13. A news release said Eftekhari died from a severe beating."

The Latest from Iran (30 July): Memorial Day

The Latest from Iran (31 July): And Now….?

Latest Iran Video: The "40th Day" Memorial (30 July)
Latest Iran Video: The “40th Day” Memorial (30 July – Part 2)

NEW Media Mischief: The Return of #CNNFail on Iran?
NEW Iran: Ayatollah Montazeri on the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi Letter (29 July)
The Latest from Iran (29 July): The Memorial and the Inauguration

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IRAN NEDA MOTHER2115 GMT: Good Night. For us at EA, a thank you to all those who have joined today and a symbolic reminder: pictured at left is Neda Agha Soltan's mother, who was not able to attend the ceremony at her daughter's grave but who lit a candle in a nearby park as her memorial.

2110 GMT: Coming to the close of an eventful day, let's drop in on Press TV's coverage: "Iran's opposition supporters, gathered at a cemetery in Tehran for a memorial service for the victims of the recent post-election unrest, have been met by Iranian police."

The image of a casual "meeting", perhaps for cake and a cup of tea, is dispelled in the next sentence, however, "Police forces on Thursday used tear gas to break up supporters of defeated presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi." And the overall report is neutral, even (whisper it) somewhat favourable towards the Green Movement.

That is, except for an obligatory last sentence: "Iranian authorities say foreign agents have fueled the post-vote violence which led to the deaths."

2015 GMT: has posted a range of photographs from Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

2010 GMT: Tehran Bureau has an excellent selection of eyewitness accounts, all of which point towards the significance not of a single demonstration (although, if true, 40,000 in Behest-e-Zahra cemetery is impressive) but of numerous demonstrations across the capital. As one demonstrator caught the excitement, "It’s NUTS! I’ve never seen it like this before! It’s still going on, 9 pm now — raging! As I said, it's more like a riot, totally out of control."

1940 GMT: Radio Farda's website reports that hundreds of people demonstrated in Isfahan today.

1755 GMT: Islamic Republic News Agency, going "behind the scenes of the street riots", claims that the leadership of these riots are "political powers" and "retired elements of some security forces", implying that the recent protests are similar to those against the regime in the early 1980s.

1715 GMT: Reports that filmmakers Jafar Panahi, Mahnaz Mohammadi, and Rokhsare Ghaem Maghami released after being arrested earlier at Behest-e-Zahra cemetery.

1645 GMT: State-funded Press TV in Iran apparently covered the protests at Neda's grave site, with a reporter calling in a live update.

1615 GMT: Etemade Melli has an account of Mehdi Karroubi's appearance at the memorial, including the resistance of mourners when security forces accosted him, and of his speech. The English translation, courtesy of Mani:

Karroubi walked towards Neda Agha Soltan's resting place, surrounded by a large group of people. The special forces attacked him and tried to disperse and separate the people from "the reform sheikh" [Karroubi] by beating them with clubs and pepper spray. The police encountered stiff resistance from the people, and Karroubi held his ground and stated strongly that he is staying in this place.
Karroubi sat beside Neda Agha Soltan's  grave and accompanied the people by reading the Fateheh [the prayer for the dead]  for Neda. The Prayer was read with protest intonations. Afterwards Hojjatoleslam Hadi Ghaffari joined Karroubi and spoke to the people for a few minutes. During Karroubi's speech, the security forces had a conflict with the people and arrested some individuals. These forces were confronted with slogans like "let him go, let him go" and flowers by the people [police presumably released those arrested].

Mehdi Karroubi, after spending an hour with the people, moved to the exit and his vehicle, accompanied by a large number of people chanting slogans.

1600 GMT: A reader sends in two other slogans:

"As long as the Supreme Leader isn't dead, our homeland won't be our homeland"
"We don't want crocodile's tears, we don't want the government of Mesbah" [referring to Ahmadinejad's religious mentor, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi)

1552 GMT: Ahmadinejad Flees? On 16 July, the day before Rafsanjani's Friday prayers, the President went to Mashaad. He did so again today, ostensibly to attend a gathering of scientists and faculty members.

1550 GMT: Some of the slogans from today, as reported by Mardomak's live blog:

Our Neda is not dead/the government is dead
Oh Martyred countryman! I will wrest back your vote
Fear not! fear not! we are in this together
Death to dictator
Mojtaba [Khamenei], may you die as you yearn for supreme leadership
The missiles of the basiji have no effect [Mani's Note: This echoes what was said in the 1970s, "The missiles have no effect, the Shah can only kill himself", implying what some think Ahmadinejad and maybe Khamenei must do.]

1545 GMT: Ramin Mostaghim of the Los Angeles Times (see 1345 GMT), who appears to be the best-placed "Western" correspondent in Tehran today, also says 40,000 were in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1540 GMT: Moments after writing the previous entry, this comes in from the Green Movement website Mowj-e-Sabz: there are clashes in several major streets in Tehran, including Motahari,Vali-e Asr, Beheshti, Hafez and Fatemi, with reports of police using tear gas and batons.

1535 GMT: We are receiving numerous reports of "heavy clashes" across Tehran and now in other cities like Ahwaz and Isfahan. We are refraining from giving details at this point because there is no verification of the extent of the protests and fighting.

1520 GMT: The Iranian pro-reformist website Mardomak has been live-blogging events. It reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, was able to get into the cemetery. Although there were many anti-riot police present, there were no major clashes inside Behesht-e-Zahra.

Here, however, is the striking entry. In contrast to CNN's report, taken up by other Western media, of 3000 mourners, Mardomak claims there were 40,000 in the cemetery.

1445 GMT: Picking up on some earlier news: the "reformist" Islamic Iran Participation Front has issued a strong statement asserting that the only way out of the disgrace of detentions and killings is the fall of the "coup government". Tehran Bureau offers a useful summary.

1440 GMT: A quieter phase in today's events. It appears that some mourners/demonstrators, having been hindered in their attempts at a memorial in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, are moving towards the Grand Mosala (the original location for today's gathering). Others are in streets around Tehran: it is report that "Vali Asr from Vali Asr Square to Vanak Square is jampacked and smokefilled".

So it is wait-and-see as to whether there is a Phase II or a series of scattered encounters. Meanwhile, a question: when he was turned away from the cemetery by security forces, where did Mir Hossein Mousavi go?

1405 GMT: Reuters,via Mehr News Agency, reports that Saeed Hajjarian was transferred from prison to a "state-owned" house today. Kazem Jalali, the head of Parliamentary Security Committee, said, "The Tehran prosecutor told me that Hajjarian was transferred today to a state-owned house with proper medical facilities....His relatives can visit him at the new place."

1345 GMT: Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim have just filed this report for the Los Angeles Times, "Mourners overwhelm Iran security forces". If true, it is a significant account of a building protest movement. (Much of this information has circulated on Twitter but EA has not run some of the details because we could not verify. It is unclear how much of this article is based on the Twitter traffic and how much on first-hand reporting --- Mostaghim is apparently based in Tehran.)
Thousands and possibly tens of thousands of mourners, many of them black-clad young women carrying roses, overwhelmed security forces today at Tehran's largest cemetery to gather around the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman whose videotaped shooting at a June 20 demonstration stunned the world.

"Death to the dictator," those in the long procession of mourners converging on the burial site chanted, kicking up a storm of dust as they walked. "Neda is not dead. This government is dead."

Uniformed security forces initially clashed violently today with some of the mourners, supporters and leaders of the opposition, who were trying to publicly mourn protesters who died in the recent unrest. Unsuccessful presidential candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi attempted to attend the graveside ceremony marking the religiously significant 40th day since the death of Agha-Soltan and others killed in the fighting.

"Oh, Hossein! Mir-Hossein," the mourners chanted in support of him.

According one witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, Mousavi stepped out of his car only to be surrounded by police, who forced him back into his vehicle and out of the cemetery.

At first mourners were confronted by the security forces, who struck them with truncheons and arrested some in an attempt to bar them from gathering at Tehran's Behesht Zahra cemetery, the country's largest. The tree-lined streets leading to the graves of Agha-Soltan and others were blocked by riot police, the witness said.

The witness said the mourners also identified and violently confronted several plainclothes Basiji militiamen.

"Police, police, support us," the mourners chanted. "God is great!"

But as the numbers mourners poured out of the nearby subway station and taxis along the highway, security forces retreated. One witness said police released detainees and began cooperating with the mourners, directing them to section 257 of the cemetery, where Agha-Soltan and others were buried. Mourners have been denied a permit to hold a ceremony in the city's Grand Mossala mosque later today, but protesters have said they will try to come together near the site of the mosque anyway, and march along nearby streets if they are prevented from entering the site....

1330 GMT: EPersian Radio is claiming that Mehdi Karroubi, 20 minutes ago in Behesht-e-Zahra, told those gathered to move towards the Grand Mosala.

1325 GMT: We've just posted the first video to come out of the memorial at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1305 GMT: BBC Persian, citing Press TV, says security forces have used tear gas to disperse mourners at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery. (hat tip to a reader)

1255 GMT: Mohammad Khatami has issued another statement on detentions and interrogations, criticising the closure of Kahrizak Prison as a token move and declaring, "Those who are responsible must be dealt with and those abused must be compensated."

1245 GMT: Revolutionary Road is live-blogging on the memorial with details such as, "Mourners chant: 'Death to Dictator!' Basijis now chanting 'God is Great' too."

1234 GMT: Claim that Mehdi Karroubi has entered Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1228 GMT: Claims of gatherings across Tehran, with largest at Ferdousi Square.

1218 GMT: BBC Persian reports that filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mahnaz Mohammadi have been arrested during today's memorial.

1209 GMT: Deutsche Welle is also reporting (in Farsi) on clashes and arrests at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

Al Jazeera English has just cut to a correspondent in Tehran (on a rooftop far from the cemetery) who is repeating the news provided by Reuters.

1200 GMT: Not a word from "mainstream" media in their headlines but EPersian Radio is claiming to carry reports by cellphone from Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1145 GMT: Witness to Reuters: "Police forced Mousavi to return to his car and leave the cemetery. Police are also warning mourners to leave the place or face the consequences."

1140 GMT: Reuters reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi has entered Behesht-e- Zahra cemetery to pay his respects to those killed in post-election violence. Marchers clung to his car, chanting "Mousavi we support you".

However, there are also UNCONFIRMED reports that he has been forced to leave by security forces.

1130 GMT: And So It Begins. It is now 4 p.m. in Tehran, and Reuters is reporting, via a witness, "Hundreds have gathered around Neda Agha-Soltan's grave to mourn her death and other victims' deaths....Police arrested some of them....Dozens of riot police also arrived and are trying to disperse the crowd."

1125 GMT: Saeed Mortazavi, the prosecutor of the Islamic Revolutionary Court and Prosecutor General of Tehran, has issued a statement announcing the first trials of detained protestors on Saturday and criticising the "enemies" who challenged the Presidential election, a "golden page [in] the book of religious democracy":
Once again we had to witness that the global imperialism lead by America and Britain did not accept one of the world s most democratic election and the will of you free people....Obviously some mercenaries and misled groups within the country were manipulated by foreigners, and by committing illegal and dishonest actions formed a base for the unrest of elements of the enemy.

Charges include "attacking military centres with weapons, firearms, and incendiary bombs", "attacking government centres and setting them on fire", "destroying public property", "creating panic among the people", and "contact with heretic and infidel groups".

1120 GMT: Peykeiran reports that "opposition" newspapers have been removed from the front of kiosks in Tehran since Sunday.

1100 GMT: A reader has pointed towards an Iranian blog on conditions in the Kahrizak prison, whose closure as a "non-standard" facility was ordered by Ayatollah Khamenei earlier this week. The author of the entry, who claimed he/she was detained for almost a month, writes of "200 people in single room, all beaten, bruised and wounded" and names six people who allegedly died in the prison.

1020 GMT: Revolution in Iran, drawing from a variety of sources, is maintain a running list of those who have died in the post-election conflict, adding names where possible. The list, updated yesterday, now has about 180 listed deaths with more than 60 persons identified.

1000 GMT: We've posted a separate entry, half in jest, half as serious comment on "media", on the approach of CNN to today's events: "Media Mischief --- The Return of #CNNFail?"

0753 GMT: Rooz Online breaks the news that Neda Agha Soltan's mother will NOT be at the memorial at her daughter's grave in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

0745 GMT: Reconfirming the Memorial. Ghalam News, Mir Hossein Mousavi's website, still features its story from last night: "Commemoration of Martyrs Movement: Behest-e-Zahra, 1600 Hours on Thursday".

0730 GMT: New Move for Political Front? Rasoul Montajebnia, a deputy of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemad-e-Melli Party, has suggested that reformists form a "leadership assembly" including Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami to lead all reformist groups in Iran.

0720 GMT: How You Know the Regime is Nervous. Two notable stories from the "conservative" press:

Kayhan has claimed, "We have found documents proving that some of the rioters participating in the Tehran have been killed by some thugs hired by Mousavi and Khatami."

Fars News tops this, asserting that Neda Agha Soltan "is alive and in Greece"!

0715 GMT: Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani has also responded to the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi letter. Summary is in separate entry.

0700 GMT: Summarising News on Detainees. From Parleman News:

Although a lot of publicity has been given to "the release of Said Hajjarian", he has not yet been freed.
Mohammad Tavassoli, the head of the political office of the Freedom Party, was released on Monday.
Journalist Aida Mesbahi has been released on bail.
Shadi Sadr, the attorney, was released on bail.
The families of attorney Abdulfath Soltani and journalist Abdoreza Tajik have been asked to post bail.
Mohammad Atrianfar has spoken with his family and seems to be in good health.
The families of Hengameh Shahidi and Somayeh Tohidlou are concerned because they have heard nothing regarding them.
Jila Bani-yaghoub has met with her mother. Bani-Yaghoub told her mother that she does not expect to be released soon. Her husband Bahman Ahmadi has also met his family.
The families of Saeed Laylez, Ahmad Zobd Abadi and Kaveh Mozaffari have been told that these individuals are quarantined and prohibited from meeting people.

0650 GMT: Ayatollah Montazeri has published a response to the letter from Mohammad Khatami, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mir Hossein Mousavi asking for intervention on the detainees issue. We've posted the English translation, as well as other statements by clerics, in a separate entry.

0530 GMT: The Iranian post-election conflict has been marked by a convergence of complicated, often hard to see, manoeuvres behind the scenes and of high-profile events. Today's planned "40th Day" memorial, set for 4 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, is one of those events. It is the most prominent since the 17 July gathering for Friday prayers in Tehran and, arguably, the most significant since the first organised mass demonstration on 15 June, three days after the election.

Put bluntly, if the Green Movement can mobilise thousands of people on the streets of Tehran, whether or not they make it to Behesht-e-Zahra, and if Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi make their planned appearance, this will be the symbolic moment that shows --- seven weeks after the election --- that the Government has not been able to put down opposition. Conversely, if those thousands do not appear and if opposition leaders do not show up, it will be an indication that, while symbolic protests will continue, they will not put the pressure of mass activity upon the regime.

A sign of that importance is the return of some "mainstream" foreign media to the Iran story. The BBC is highlighting, "Iran Opposition Vows to Defy Ban", both in its broadcasts and on its website. Their reports have been bolstered, and indeed prompted, by a message from Neda Agha Soltan's mother expressing gratitude to those remembering her daughter. (Neda's mother will also be at Behesht-e-Zahra today, although it is unclear whether this will be as part of the 4 p.m. ceremony.) In contrast, Time magazine casts an ominous, even negative, shadow as "Tehran Braces for Another Day of Street Battles": "Although tens of thousands are expected to march in silence July 30,...many more will be staying home." (CNN and Al Jazeera English lag behind, with neither referring to today's plans.)

Understandably, the significance of this moment emerged in some confusion and nervousness amongst activists yesterday. The apparent change of plans from the 6 p.m. gathering in the Grand Mosala to the Behest-e-Zahra memorial took time to emerge, and with the Government-imposed difficulties in communication, the opposition feared that many would not get word of today's schedule. This morning there seems to be an easing of those concerns, and attention is turning to the response of the Government to the gatherings. An unconfirmed report last night asserted that the Supreme Leader's office had put out a communiqué ordering no use of force against marchers. If true, that would appear to be an acceptance of large crowds at Behehst-e-Zahra and, indeed, in the streets surrounding the cemetery.

Iran: Ayatollah Montazeri and Others on the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi Letter (29 July)

The Latest from Iran (30 July): Memorial Day

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MONTAZERIUPDATE 0705 GMT: Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani has also responded to the letter of Mousavi-Karroubi-Khatami. He echoed Ayatollahs Montazeri and Sanei in their denunciation of the Government's disregard of the vote of the people, the mass arrests and detentions of protesters, and the torture of prisoners. Calling these actions a "horrific evil". The Ayatollah asked all of those concerned about the future of the establishment, including politicians and higher-ranking officials and judges "to take a stand against this horrific evil and try to purify society from this evil"; otherwise, "the most corrupt of you shall rule upon you".

UPDATE 0645 GMT: Mohammad Motahari, the son of Ayatollah Motahari, a prominent religious figure in the Revolution who was assassinated in 1980, has written a lengthy article assessing Islam and the treatment of protestors and detainees. He concludes, "Whether there was foreign interference or not, whether a velvet revolution was or wasn’t planned, whether the ruling system was in danger or not, no matter who the primary or secondary culprits may have been, none of this gives an infinitesimal right to tyranny and oppression." (hat tip to the "Pedestrian" blog)


Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the one-time successor to Ayatollah Khomeini and a long-time challenger to the current regime, has responded to Saturday's letter from opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Mohammad Khatami asking for Grand Ayatollahs to intervene on the issue of detainees and on the legitimacy of the Government.

What have the rulers gained from the crisis that they have caused? Have they gained anything other than making an absolute majority of our beloved people angry and discontented, placing a huge distance between themselves and the people, weakening the prestige of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the world, and inflame the suspicions and sensitivities of many citizens of other countries and human rights organizations throughout the world? Have those who decided to perpetuate these recent horrific events forgotten the fate of the Shah and other totalitarian regimes? Was the Shah able to resist the wave of people's protest and discontent by using [methods such as] brutal suppression of freedom movements, media censorship, imprisonment and torture of political activists and protesters, coerced confessions and false propaganda?

Why have the "wise men of the tribe" given a mandate to a bunch of fanatical individuals who lack rationality and are enslaved to paranoid fancies and cabalist tendencies, individuals whose behavior casts serious aspersions upon the legitimacy of this establishment that is the result of so much investment, leading the young to doubt the principles of the revolution and religious governance?

Why are you inducing the security forces and the basij to commit fratricide and brutally suppress the people? Was this the goal of establishing these forces? What crime have those dear detained individuals committed that you are imprisoning and forcing confessions out of them and consequently deliver their dead bodies to their families? Have they done anything other than protest calmly and peacefully the multitude of irregularities, crimes, misdemeanors, fraud and illegal actions observed in the election and demanding their rights? These coerced confessions are absolutely worthless from the viewpoint of Islamic Law and those who perpetuate these acts are committing mortal sins and must be tried in a just, impartial and open court so the people sincerely believe that their rights are considered.

I warn all decision makers, before the crisis gets deeper and gets out of hand, they should act sensibly, logically and according to Islamic Law, and prepare a sensible and satisfactory reply to the demands of the people. They must bear in mind that the Iranian public are wise and sensible and will find it unacceptable if the culprits are not punished....

[I ask God to grant] health and prosperity for the dear and noble people of Iran, glory for our dear Islamic religion, power to reinstate the the ignored rights and freedom for the prisoners detained under false pretenses.

The Latest from Iran (28 July): The Regime Crumbles 

The Latest from Iran (29 July): The Memorial and the Inauguration
NEW Iran: Or Is It the Supreme Leader v. the Revolutionary Guard?
NEW Iran: Will the Supreme Leader Give Up Ahmadinejad?
Iran Video (27 July): The Nighttime Protest
The Latest from Iran (27 July): A President Dangling in the Wind?

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IRAN 40 DAY 22200 GMT: Late Breaking News. The reformist website Mardomak reports that the memorial ceremonies for the fallen protesters will most probably be held this Thursday. The website asserts, "Although a rather low-level official of the ministry has objected to holding these ceremonies...there has not been any official objection... It seems that the government officials know that if they officially object, the government would then have to shoulder the responsibility of preventing these ceremony to happen." Mardomak also stated that if the doors of the Mosala are not opened on Thursday, all participants will sit down in the middle of Beheshti Street and light candles and recite the Koran.

2115 GMT: And so to close where we began this morning, considering the problems for President Ahmadinejad.

1. It is clear that the President will now be opposed by the "Principlist" bloc in Parliament. The vocal criticism of Ali Motahari has now been joined by the Islamic Engineers Society, which has criticised both the appointment of the First Vice President and the sacking of the Minister of Intelligence: "It seems you want to be the sole speaker and do not want to hear other voices… therefore it is our duty to convey to you the voice of the people." (Significantly, this news was reported on Press TV's website.)

Principlist legislator Hamid-Reza Katouzian told Tabnak: “Allegiance to the rule of just jurisprudence is not embracing the Leader and kissing his hand; allegiance must be practical....Putting the incidents of the past 10 days together, whether they were purposeful or carried out unintentionally, only show a confrontation with the Leader, and it is my opinion and that of other Principlists that Mr. Ahmadinejad needs to determine the nature of his relationship with the Leader.”

2. A "conservative" Member of Parliament, Gholam-Reza Mesbahi-Moghaddam, has expressed support for Hashemi Rafsanjani and has advocated compensation to the families of slain protesters. He also considered demonstrators to be "young gullible individuals who can be released".

3. Perhaps in response to this pressure, Ahmadinejad has asked the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi to deal with the situation of the detainees (which Shahroudi had promised yesterday), hoping that the release of these individuals will coincide with the Birthday of Imam Mahdi. Ahmadinejad claims that most detainees have been "hoodwinked into participating these protests by individuals related to certain internal politicians or the propaganda of foreign enemies".

2045 GMT: Mohammad Tavasoli, a senior member of the Freedom Movement of Iran, has been freed after 43 days in detention.

2030 GMT: Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani, who has emerged as a vocal critic of the Government, has issued another statement criticising those who have ignored "the vote of the majority".

1945 GMT: The Memorial is On. Despite the denial of a permit from the Ministry of Interior, Mir Hossein Mousavi's Facebook page announces the gathering will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. local time on Thursday at the Grand Mosala in Tehran. The page also puts up a poster for the event (pictured).

1930 GMT: American Perceptions. After the news of the denial of the permit for the Thursday memorial, a quieter phase in Iran news. Meanwhile, in the US there is a discussion of clerical power, political roles, and individual rights under the Iranian Constitution. Francis Fukuyama started it in The Wall Street Journal, and Kevin Sullivan has continued it on Real Clear World. It's a commentary as notable for the American perception of "Islamic Iran" as it is for insight into the Iranian system.

1755 GMT: The head of the political office of the Ministry of the Interior, Abbaszadeh-Meshkini, has told Fars News that no official permission has been given to any individual or group for a "40th Day" gathering on Thursday. Abbaszdeh said, "Memorial ceremonies are considered to be private issues of citizens and any request for such ceremonies from the interior ministry has obvious political overtones".

1710 GMT: Another Ayatollah for Rafsanjani. Following the public support of Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Zarandi for Hashemi Rafsanjani (see 1205 GMT), Ayatollah Jaleleddin Taheri has also praised the former President and his speech at Friday prayers in Tehran.

1700 GMT: An Iranian website is reporting that politician Saeed Hajjarian will be among the 140 detainees released after a Parliamentary review.

1540 GMT: Ahmadinejad v. Khamenei? Back to our main story today. Parleman News reports that, after the dismissal of Minister of Intelligence Ejeie, President Ahmadinejad has taken direct control of the Ministry by ordering his replacement, Majid Alavi, to report directly to him. The Intelligence Ministry normally is supervised by the Supreme Leader, according to an English-language interpretation of the story.

1530 GMT: Women's rights lawyer Shadi Sadr has been released on bail of about $50,000.

1520 GMT: Fars News confirms that, after review by the Parliamentary Security Committee including a tour of the prisons and a visit to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani --- see 0750 GMT), 140 prisoners will be released today. Another 150 will continued to be held because, according to an English translation of the report, they had weapons at the time of arrest.

(Question: Are detainees like politician Saeed Hajjarian and former Government advisors like Abdollah Ramezanzadeh being held because they were carrying weapons?)Sa

141o GMT: A steady stream of Internet chatter this afternoon about the death of Amir Javadifar in prison. His body was reportedly returned to his family on Sunday for burial. There are also claims of the death of Ramin Ghahremani two days after his release from detention.

1205 GMT: The political battle amongst the clerics of the Assembly of Experts continues. Ayatollah Hossein Zarandi, the representative of the city of Kermanshah in the Assembly, has defied the letter issued by "hard-liners" last week and supported the Friday prayer address of former President Rafsanjani.

1200 GMT: Rumour of the Day. Some Iranian websites are reporting that some Grand Ayatollahs may move from Qom to Najaf in Iraq. Clerical authorities in Najaf have indicated they would welcome any cleric who joined them.

1155 GMT: Tabnak is reporting that Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Sadegh Larijani, a member of the Guardian Council and the brother of Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani, will succeed Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi as the head of Iran's judiciary on 25 August.

0945 GMT: Foreign Policy gives some attention to Iran with an interview with the former cleric Mehdi Khalaji, who is now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

0940 GMT: We've reposted our first morning update as a separate entry, "Will the Supreme Leader Give Up on Ahmadinejad?"

0830 GMT: Has the State Media Turned? There is a flurry of comment this morning on whether the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has changed its line. Tabnak is reporting on IRIB's "severe criticism of Ahmadinejad". Until recently, IRIB had been very supportive of the President but, after the dispute over the First Vice President, the broadcaster has given significant airtime to critics of Ahmadinejad, such as the cleric Hojatoleslam Seyed Mehdi Tabatabai and the "principlist" Member of Parliament Ali Motahari.

Our correspondent Mani makes an important point, however. This is more evidence of a dispute within conservative ranks rather than IRIB sympathy for the Green Movement. No "reformist" critic has made an appearance on the channel.

(Ansar News has also published an editorial which is fiercely critical of the President.)

0820 GMT: As the Supreme Leader considers what to do with his President (see separate entry), the fired Minister of Intelligence, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie, has chipped in. He has written a letter, which has not been public, to the Supreme Leader.

0750 GMT: Larijani Does Damage Control. Yesterday we reported how the Speaker of the Parliament, Ali Larijani, stepped in to save the President when Ahmadinejad's attempted firing of four Ministers threatened to cripple the Government.

Now Farda News reports Larijani's attempt to deal with, and limit the damage from, the detainee issue. The chairman of the Parliamentary Security Committee, Kazem Jalali, says that Larijani asked the committee "to study seriously the pathology of these issues and treat all of the detainees (especially the university students and faculty) in a manner compatible with Islamic justice and fairness and kindness tempered with a strong dose of forgiveness2.

According to Jalili, Larijani declared, "Parliament is the refuge of people and as MPs we must listen to the complaints of everyone and try to address and solve the issues....Today society needs peace and calm but foreign media is attempting to inflame our society."

0715 GMT: Preparing for the 40th Day. Mehdi Karroubi has visited the family of Neda Agha-Soltan three days before the "40th Day" memorial/rally on 30 July. Karroubi expressed his sympathy to Neda's mother, "None of us knows our fate or destiny and none can say what events are awaiting us....The dear child that lost her life was the ultimate symbol of being innocent and being wronged, [her death] had a huge effect both inside and outside Iran. Neda's death loudly proclaimed the fact that the Iranian people are being oppressed and at the same time prevented further injustices and hopefully will have great beneficial effects upon the current and future life of [the Iranian] people."

Neda's mother complained about the statements of Ayatollah Seyed Ahmed Khatami, leading Friday prayers in Tehran, and Ezatullah Zarghami, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, "As if the death of Neda was not enough for me, one of these two called my child an actress and claimed that her death was 'generated by a computer', and the other claimed her to be an actress [faking her death]." She concluded, "Neda, like thousands of other young people, cared for the fate of her country, she like other young people protested the results of the election."

0645 GMT: The Meeting of the Ayatollahs. Meanwhile, the negotiations between the Green Movement and the clerics of Qoms are proceeding. BBC Persian reports, via the website of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri,that he has been discussing "issues regarding religious law and politics " with Grand Ayatollah Mousavi-Ardebili and Grand Ayatollah Mousa Shobeiri-Zanjani.

The details of the meeting, taking place at the summer residence of Montazeri in the village of Khaveh, have not been announced. However, BBC Persian implies that the Grand Ayatollahs are now considering the open letter of Karroubi-Khatami-Mousavi and other reformists for intervention on detainees. (Yesterday we summarised the first open response to the letter, offered by Ayatollah Yousef Sanei.)

The roles of Montazeri and Mousavi-Ardebili, who have both been critical of the Government during the post-election crisis, are not surprising. However, Shobeiri-Zanjani has not stated his position, and he is a long-time friend of the Supreme Leader. Therefore, religious analyst Hassan Shariatmadari speculates on BBC Persian that Shobeiri-Zanjani may be conveying messages from Khamenei asking for a solution to growing problems.

Iran: Or Is It the Supreme Leader v. the Revolutionary Guard?

The Latest from Iran (28 July): The Government Crumbles
Iran: Will the Supreme Leader Give Up Ahmadinejad?

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KHAMENEIJAFARIWe began this morning with an analysis of the relationship between the Supreme Leader and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, asking if Ayatollah Khamenei would stand by or jettison his President. Muhammad Sahimi of Tehran Bureau, drawing from a source, sees another, possibly bigger battle: the Supreme Leader v. the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Showdown between Khamenei and IRGC?

Two important developments over the past few days suggest a possible confrontation in the near future between Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, and the high command of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

One development was the order issued by Ayatollah Khamenei overruling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s appointment of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei as his First Vice President (Iran’s president has eight vice presidents). The second, firing ultra hardliner Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehei, the Minister of Intelligence.

A reliable source in Tehran told the author that both episodes were meant to be signals by the IRGC’s high command to Ayatollah Khamenei that they were in control, and that he should toe the line — their line. According to the source, Ayatollah’s Khamenei’s order to fire Mashaei was delivered to the Voice and Visage (VaV) of the Islamic Republic (Iran’s national radio and television network) on the day Mashaei was appointed by Ahmadinejad. The VaV was asked to announce the order on national television and radio, but Ezzatollah Zarghami, the director of VaV and a former officer in the IRGC, refused to do so.

As if to make sure that the Ayatollah got the message loud and clear, it took Ahmadinejad one week to relent and go along with the order. And it was only then that the VaV broadcast the Ayatollah’s order. When he did accept the order, Ahmadinejad sent the Supreme Leader a terse and very formal letter, devoid of the usual praises that his past letters to Ayatollah Khamenei have carried. The letter was considered by many supporters of the Ayatollah as a total insult; but also a clear signal. In order to further demonstrate his defiance, Ahmadinejad appointed Mashaei, a close relative and friend, as his chief of staff and special adviser.

According to the source, Ejehei was fired because he was reporting to the Supreme Leader without first letting Ahmadinejad know. He had reportedly said that the Intelligence Ministry had concluded that the accusations by the IRGC high command, that the demonstrations after the election were linked to foreign powers and represented a “velvet revolution,” were baseless. He had also reportedly said that the demonstrations had neither been planned in advance, nor could they have been predicted. Finally, the Intelligence Ministry is said to have reported that Mashaei, as well as Hossein Taeb, a cleric who is the commander of the Basij militia, represented security risks. The report apparently countered all the accusations made by the IRGC high command.

There is a precedent that helps explain why Ejehei may have been put aside. In the spring of 2008, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Ahmadinejad’s first Interior Minister, was also fired after he submitted a report to Ayatollah Khamenei about the elections for the 8th Majles (parliament) without Ahmadinejad’s knowledge. In that report, Pourmohammadi reported irregularities committed by Ahmadinejad’s backers. When Ahmadinejad found out about the report, he fired Pourmohammadi almost immediately.

According to the source, Ayatollah Khamenei had also ordered the closure of one of the jails, one in which the demonstrators and some of the leading reformist leaders are being kept; but the order has been ignored by the intelligence and security unit of the IRGC, which runs the prison. Saeed Jalili, Secretary-General of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, confirmed the Ayatollah’s order for the closure of a jail. Apparently, after the initial order was ignored, it was sent to the Council. While the source did not specify the prison, it might be the Kahrizak prison on the southern edge of Tehran near the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery.

The prison is usually used to hold common criminals and narcotics traffickers, but there have been credible reports indicating that many people arrested in the post-election roundup have also been imprisoned there. Ejehei had apparently complained to Ayatollah Khamenei that the Intelligence Ministry had lost control over those arrested, and that the IRGC unit had taken control of the matter.

There is much speculation about Ejehei’s successor. According to Iranian law, the head of the Ministry of Intelligence must be a mojtahed (an Islamic scholar), and hence, a cleric. It will be interesting to see how Ahmadinejad navigates that one — finding a qualified cleric whose first loyalty is to him and the IRGC high command.

The author’s source also told him that the top commanders of the IRGC are firmly behind Ahmadinejad in his struggle to wrest full control of the government away from the clerics. But, the rank and file of the IRGC is divided into two main groups. The first group supports the reformist movement and remains silent for now (or perhaps it has been forced into silence). The second group is divided. One group is behind Ahmadinejad and the high command of the IRGC; they believe that the clerics should be purged from the government, and that Ayatollah Khamenei should be transformed into an ineffective and irrelevant figurehead. Others in the second group believe that Ayatollah Khamenei is Ma’soom (free of sin, from a religious perspective) and a deputy to Mahdi, the Shiites’ hidden 12th Imam who is supposed to come back some day to rid the world of injustice and corruption. Members of this group believe that obedience to Ayatollah Khamenei is their duty.

According to the source, Hossein Saffar Harandi, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance and a former officer in the IRGC, belongs to this group and was forced to resign, after he protested the appointment of Mashaei as First VP. Officially, Saffar Harandi is still part of the cabinet, because if he is formally sacked, the Constitution requires Ahmadinejad to seek a vote of confidence from Majlis since he has replaced half of his cabinet during his four-year term. Since his first term will expire in about 10 days, however, Ahmadinejad does not want the issue before Majles for a vote.

According to a second reliable source in Tehran, seven of Ahmadinejad’s ministers, including Saffar Harandi and Ejehei, wrote a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei last week complaining about their boss and supporting Khamenei to sack Mashaei. It is widely believed that Ahmadinejad intends to fire the remaining five after he begins his second disputed term. The author already reported on two of the five ministers to be fired.

That the IRGC high command may wish to purge the government of clerics is no surprise. In addition to the fact that the IRGC did the bulk of the fighting with Iraq and eliminated the internal opposition to the political establishment in the 1980s, the IRGC has also been guarding and protecting the high-ranking clerics for the past three decades. Therefore, the IRGC has full knowledge of their secret wheeling and dealings. Privy to information on these cases of corruption and nepotism among clerics, their relatives and aids, the IRGC it like the Sword of Damocles over their heads.

When last year, Abbas Palizdar, an ally of Ahmadinejad, spoke of 123 cases of corruption among the clerics and their families, many interpreted that as a clear attempt by Ahmadinejad and his supporters to push most of the clerics out of power. Palizdar was later jailed and Ahmadinejad disowned him. But he was recently released from prison after posting a $300,000 bail. My sources in Tehran told me that the joke there was that after Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s Friday Prayer sermon of July 17, calling for the release of political prisoners, the hardliners released Palizadar!

Ayatollah Khamenei himself has played a major role in the rise of the IRGC. When Mohammad Khatami won the presidential election in 1997 by a landslide, a group of reformist leaders met with the supreme leader and asked him to heed the nation’s message of such a victory. In order to leave a credible legacy behind and save a political system in which had had played an important role, they advised the supreme leader to personally take a lead in the reform of the system. Not only did Ayatollah Khamenei refuse to do so, he more closely sided with the hardliners who were trying to gut the Khatami administration. It got to the point that when Khatami was president, he complained that the hardliners were creating a crisis for the country every nine days.

In 2005, after Khatami had to leave office after a second term, Ahmadinejad was elected president with the support of Ayatollah Khamenei. But practically from Day 1, Ahmadinejad began attacking many clerics in the name of fighting corruption. Ayatollah Khamenei continued to throw his support behind Ahmadinejad, presumably because he believed Ahmadinejad could force out his competitor Rafsanjani, his competitor in the power struggle.

Even when Rafsanjani wrote a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei a few days before the election and warned him about possible fraud, the Ayatollah did not take any significant action. It is widely rumored that he told Rafsanjani that “Ahmadinejad’s defeat is my defeat.”

On Tuesday June 16, four days after the election, when the country was in deep crisis due to the huge demonstrations that had erupted, Ayatollah Khamenei summoned to his office representatives of all the presidential candidates, as well as members of the Expediency Council and the staff of the Interior Ministry, which supervises the election, in order to seek a solution to the crisis. Two people in that meeting, former Tehran Mayor Morteza Alviri (representing Mahdi Karroubi, one of the two reformist candidates), and former Oil Minister, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, proposed that the problem be referred to the Expediency Council. But, Ayatollah Khamenei refused.

Instead, on June 19, during his Friday Prayer sermon, the Ayatollah threatened the Iranian nation and the reformists. When the next day demonstrations erupted again and many young people were killed, many Iranians held the Ayatollah (justifiably) responsible for the bloodshed. According to the author’s sources in Tehran, the high command of the IRGC recognized that the responsibility for the bloodshed would be squarely on the Ayatollah and therefore persuaded him to take a hard line. According to the same sources, the thinking of the high command of the IRGC is that, among conservative voters, Ahmadinejad is far more popular than Ayatollah Khamenei, and that therefore, the Ayatollah has trapped himself and has no clear way out of the difficult situation that he himself has created. This allows the IRGC high command to marginalize him.

What is not clear is the role of Mojtaba Khamenei, the Ayatollah’s son. Mojtaba is believed to be close to the high command of the IRGC. Will he be purged as well? Will the IRGC consider him as irrelevant, now that they have achieved their goal of “re-electing” Ahmadinejad? Or, does he have a role in any of this?

Ahmadinejad’s “re-election” is supposed to be confirmed by Ayatollah Khamenei on August 4, and he will take the oath of office in the Majles the next day. The next 10 days will be every bit as critical as they will be intriguing.