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Entries in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (29)


The Latest from Iran (30 June): Opposition, It's Your Move

The Latest from Iran (1 July): The Opposition Regroups

LATEST Video: “Keeping the Peace” (30 June)
NEW Iran: To Its People, To The Future (A Daily Show Tribute)
The Latest from Iran (29 June): The Challenge Survives

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1925 GMT: Now Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi has reacted to yesterday's Guardian Council verdict: "This government is not legitimate.I'll continue fighting in any condition and with any means."

So, of the leading opposition challengers, only Mir Hossein Mousavi has been silent today. We think we know the reason but will wait until the morning to see if our analysis is right.

1900 GMT: In the category of "Well, He Would Say That, Wouldn't He?", President Ahmadinejad is quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency: "This election was actually a referendum. The Iranian nation were the victors and the enemies, despite their ... plots of a soft toppling of the system, failed and couldn't reach their aims."

The significance is not in Ahmadinejad's words, but in their low-key presentation. Both in a national broadcast the night after the election and in a press conference the day after that, the President was loudly celebrating his win, even taunting the opposition as "dust". Now, the day after the Guardian Council has re-affirmed his victory, his public appearance is limited to a brief statement repeating the "foreign threat" theme.
Interpretation? After his over-enthusiasm in the first 48 hours beyond the vote, Ahmadinejad has been reined in by other leaders. The President's "victory" is looking decidedly Pyrrhic in the wider context of the Iranian system.

1440 GMT: Has Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek journalist detained by Iranian authorities, been forced to issue a "confession"?

1430 GMT: The account of "Reza", a student whose account of detention in Evin Prison was put out by "Change_For_Iran" on Twitter, has been re-posted in a single blog entry.

1345 GMT: Now It's Heating Up. After a slow start today, the post-election political and clerical battles have resumed. Within the past hour, moves against the opposition challenge have come from Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a former head of the judiciary, who has declared that Mir Hossein Mousavi will not be approved as a candidate for the next Presidential election, and a Tehran Member of Parliament who has said the reformist party Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution "is a half-clandestine terrorist organization".

From the other side, Ayatollah Jaleleddin Taheri has asserted that the long-time nemeses of Ayatollah Khomeini are sending the Islamic Republic "to the museum". (A pro-Government Member of Parliament has claimed that Taheri, a prominent prayer leader in Isfahan, is not a "senior cleric".) And other politicians are feuding with the President of the University of Tehran over whether he "invited" security forces to raid the university's dormitories days after the election.

1320 GMT: The Association of Combatant Clerics have issued a statement complementing Khatami's response (1300 GMT).

1300 GMT: We started this morning by wondering what response would be made to the Guardian Council's attempt to close off debate on the Presidential election.

Finally, an answer: former President Mohammad Khatami has declared that an impartial board must address complaints about the election. Meanwhile, there must be change in the approach of the security forces and military to the opposition movement and the atmosphere caused by detentions and repression.

1215 GMT: The chief prosecutor in Isfahan has announced the release of 280 detainees.

1205 GMT: If true, this article from Eli Lake in The New Republic is a disturbing window on the short-sightedness of US Government officials when it comes to Iranian politics and society. The summary, based on interviews with Government sources and Iran-watchers, is that US analysts are "forced to make guesses about the Iranian freedom movement from afar" as they are "not in touch with organizers of the Iranian revolt".

The possibility that an official might be able to get a reasonable view of Iranian devleopments through a consideration of the many different sections of Iranian society beyond "organizers", either for the Government or the opposition, doesn't occur here. Nor does Lake or his interviewees seem to recognise that you don't have to rely on US Government-funded programmes, such as National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, and Radio Farda, to build links for knowledge and analysis.

1200 GMT: An Iranian source says Tehran University students joined the mothers of detainees to protest outside Evin Prison yesterday. Other sources indicate that Evin is now full and detainees are being held in football stadiums.

Press TV English is saying nothing about the detentions. In fact, their current "world news" is saying nothing at all about Iran, preferring to focus on the nominal US withdrawal from Iraqi cities.

A reminder: the project of The Guardian of London to put pictures to the names of those killed and detained can be accessed via the newspaper's homepage.

1045 GMT: An Iranian source on Twitter summarises the situation concisely, "It's like Iran is in shock or coma or something." Still nothing of significance after yesterday's events.

0930 GMT: The calmest morning since the start of the crisis. Almost no information has moved via Internet and personal sources, and there is nothing on news sites beyond the Guardian Council's statement from yesterday. (Ironically, in light of the Iranian Government's restrictions on communication, the English-language site of the Islamic Republic News Agency is down.)

Reports that streets in Tehran are quiet, but a heavy security presence remains. And one piece of good news: the Iranian activist "persiankiwi", whom we have been profiling, is apparently safe and in contact with other reliable sources.

0730 GMT: The Facebook page of Mir Hossein Mousavi offers guidelines for protests, from the writing of Mousavi's name on banknotes to nighttime "Allahu Akhbars", but no specifics on demonstrations beyond the possibility of the days of "religious seclusion" (6-8 July). There is also a message in English: "The manner of a man is better than his gover[n]ance. Help to bring this message back to IRAN."

0615 GMT: Just now on the BBC's flagship radio programme: their Iranian specialist, Sadegh Saba, says the mood in Iran is one of "defeat...hopelessness...despair" with families unaware of where detained relatives are being held or, in some cases, which security branch took them.

0545 GMT: Press TV's website offers the most wonderful (and presumably unintential) ironic comment in 19 days of coverage:
Ahmadinejad's votes increased in the province of Kerman....The incumbent president's tally also rose by 12 votes in Jirof, after 17 of the 170 ballot boxes in the southeastern city were re-counted....The re-count in Jiroft resulted in five votes being deducted from runner up Mir-Hossein Mousavi and one vote being deducted from Mehdi Karroubi, while Mohsen Rezaei's ballots increased by three votes.

However, the changes in the tally were announced as being 'too small' to be deemed decisive in the outcome of the election.
. (Ahmadinejad's original margin of victory was 11 million votes.)

The Latest from Iran (29 June): The Challenge Survives

The Latest from Iran (30 June): Opposition, It’s Your Move

The Latest from Iran (28 June): The Regime Fails to Wrap Up the Election
Latest Video: Rally at Ghobar Mosque (28 June)

NEW Iran: Identifying the Killed and Detained
NEW Iran: More on "Two Twitterers" (and on the Idiocy of "The Times")
NEW Iran: For Those Still Detained (A Daily Show Tribute)

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IRAN DEMOS 132215 GMT: Very little political movement tonight --- the interesting manoeuvres start tomorrow with reaction to the Guardian Council's attempt to close off further dispute over the election. Meanwhile, multiple sources report that "Allahu Akhbars" are louder than ever from Tehran rooftops.

1920 GMT: Multiple reports that, after Guardian Council affirmation of election result announced, protesters responded with loud shouts of "God is Great".

1915 GMT: Getting in Line. It looks like the regime has pulled one key figure back into place. Ali Larijani, the head of the Iranian Parliament, has declared that the unrest is "a not very important event" which will be overcome by the Islamic Republic. Larijani also pointed to foreign demons, saying that CNN had provided money and cellphones to portray a negative image of Iran.

1810 GMT: OK, There Was an Error. A spokesman for the Guardian Council said that President Ahmadinejad's vote total has been revised upwards after the recount.

1705 GMT: The Decision is Made. Iran state media has announced, "The secretary of the Guardian Council in a letter to the interior minister announced the final decision of the Council... and declares the approval of the accuracy of the results of... the presidential election."

The timing, as well as the politics earlier in the day (there was a last-gasp meeting with Mousavi representatives to get their acceptance), indicate the Council, or those behind it, is ready for a showdown with the opposition.

1700 GMT: It is difficult to verify the size of the "human chain" in Tehran today, but there are numerous reports of attempts to disrupt the gathering and of clashes: "Daneshju Park is full of Basij and special gaurds and militia forces are being organized in the park 4 dealing human chain....Alleis [sic] which are leading to Valieasr street are full of armed forces and Basij cyclists....Office of the Islamic Association of Sistan and Baluchestan University set on fire by anonymous people."

1400 GMT: An audio file of the Sunday speech of Faezeh Hashemi (text here), the daughter of former President Rafsanjani, has been uploaded. To call it strong is an understatement: Hashemi maintains that the Basiji and security forces behind President Ahmadinejad will remove the Supreme Leader if he does not support them.

1355 GMT: We're keeping eyes and ears open for news of the latest mass demonstration, a "human chain" from north to south of Iran. On Iranian state media, police commanders have warned that the gathering is unlicensed and will not be tolerated.

According to reports, the chain has begun on Vali-e Asr Street.

1345 GMT: An important blogger during the crisis, Saeed Valadbaygi of "Revolutionary Road", writes, "We have been attacked by Police and we had to move to new places to live and start out activities." Yesterday Valadbaygi broke the news of the arrests of two student activists and of the well-known Iranian comedian Reza Attaran at the Qoba mosque rally.

1335 GMT: Mehdi Khazali, the son of Ayatollah Khazali (a strong supporter of President Ahmadinejad), has been arrested. The younger Khazali has in the past accused Ahmadinejad of having Jewish roots.

1330 GMT: Reports that the representatives of Mir Hossein Mousavi met today with the Guardian Council but, according to the speaker of the Council, there was "no clear result".

1200 GMT: And here's why the question below is important: opposition candidates are moving to challenge the Guardian Council's ability to rule on the vote. Mohsen Rezaei's brother has declared that "70 percent" of the votes in some ballot boxes are filled out with the same pen in the same handwriting. He has stated that it makes "no sense" for the Council to declare there is no fraud before a special committee of enquiry is appointed to investigate the electoral process.

1145 GMT: Hold Your Breath. Still no word from the Guardian Council on the "recount". Instead state media are playing up the story that "no Iranian presidential candidates had filed complaints as a Monday deadline approached".

CNN reports that development but then does not ask the important question: when the deadline passes (it is now 4:30 p.m. in Tehran), will the Guardian Council act immediately to declare the legitimacy of the Presidential vote?

900 GMT: Fars News Agency is reporting that President Ahmadinejad has asked the Ministry of the Judiciary to investigate the killing of Neda Agha Soltan.

In a sign that the opposition campaigns are re-emerging, a key advisor to Mehdi Karroubi has resumed updates on Twitter.

655 GMT: Juan Cole is normally one of the shrewdest commentators on the Arab and Islamic worlds, but he misreads the Iran situation this morning. First, towed along in the blind wake of the "mainstream" media, he misses the significance of Sunday's Qoba mosque gathering. Second, he weakly describes the former President's speech, "Rafsanjani Defers to Khamenei". Rafsanjani is far too clever and calculating to defer to anyone --- this is more a case of biding his time.

0600 GMT: Let's Try Again. Iranian state media, including Al Alam Television, reports that the Guardian Council is "beginning" its partial recount of the Presidential vote.

So the regime is trying to retake the initiative, but it is still unclear how quickly. After all, the Council was supposed to "begin" the recount several days ago. Will this be a recount on the lines of the original verdict, which only took three hours after polls closed, or will it be a more drawn-out process? My suspicion is that this is a political, rather than a logistical (or statistical), question: a quick declaration indicates that the regime believes it is in a strong position.

0545 GMT (now cross-posted on "What to Watch For Today"): Beyond the blurred vision of the "mainstream" media (Al Jazeera English has now been reduced to prefacing every event in Iran with the adverb "apparently"), here is a solid fact:

The Iran crisis did not end yesterday.

Indeed there wasn't even the public resolution, as we predicted 24 hours ago, of a Guardian Council declaration that the election was complete, fair, and over. The Council remained silent, leaving the public political arena to others. Part of the area was occupied by the regime's diversion of "foreign interference", raised by the Supreme Leader and the head of intelligence, but the portrayal of the crisis as the work of Iranian employees of the British Embassy (some of whom remain in detention this morning, according to reports) remained incomplete.

Instead, part of that space was filled with the clearest demonstration (yes, "clear", despite the hyper-caution of Al Jazeera and BBC English) that protest continues. The hundreds of arrests, media shutdown, and threat of violence could not stop thousands from gathering in front of Qoba (Ghobar) mosque in Tehran for a memorial rally. It is uncertain how many thousands showed up, filling the mosque, the square outside, and possibly surrounding roads, but a glimpse of the short video that made it out of Iran (see our Latest Video section) leaves no doubt that this wasn't a rogue gathering of "hundreds" of dissidents.

And part of the space was filled with the refusal and even defiance of some within the Iranian establishment. Mehdi Karroubi made a wildly-acclaimed appearance at Qoba (see Latest Video). Hashemi Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh was there, and reports indicate that Mir Hossein Mousavi spoke to the gathering via mobile phone and loudspeaker (there was a claim, probably a bit of insurgent propaganda, that he was close to the rally but could not get there because of the size of the crowd).

Away from Qoba, Rafsanjani made his first high-profile appearance since the election. His careful game --- praising the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei but also declaring the legimitacy of protest --- indicated that he will support a continuing "legal" examination of the election, rather than moving against President Ahmadinejad from the inside. Others have now gone further, however. Some clerics from Qom are now expressing their dissatisfaction; one ventured to criticise Khamenei, allegedly calling the Supreme Leader a "corpse-washer".

This does not add up to a teetering regime --- the flip side of the sweeping predictions yesterday that the political challenge was over. The demonstrations can go only so far without the support of the Revolutionary Guard and military (which can be ruled out) or a high-profile political challenger. For some, Mousavi can fill that role symbolically, but he is too limited in movement and organisation to have a decisive effect. We also are seeing nothing outside Tehran, making it impossible to guage the level of challenge to the regime beyond the capital.

Make no mistake, however. In Tehran the movement may have been crippled by mass arrests and battered by the security forces, but it continues.

The Latest from Iran (28 June): The Regime Fails to Wrap Up the Election

The Latest from Iran Crisis (29 June): The Challenge Survives

NEW Latest Video: Rally at Ghobar Mosque (28 June)
The Iran Crisis (Day 17): What to Watch For Today

NEW UPDATE Iran: A Tale of Two Twitterers
Text: Mousavi Letter to Guardian Council (27 June)
Text: Mousavi Letter to Overseas Supporters (24 June)
The Latest from Iran (27 June): Situation Normal. Move Along.

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IRAN DEMOS 122100 GMT: Report that the eight Iranian employees of the British Embassy, detained this morning, have been released.

1900 GMT: The Rafsanjani Speech. Tehran Bureau's Muhammad Sahimi echoes our analysis (see 1655 GMT), “Rafsanjani breaking his silence. I read what Rafsanjani said. It was not saying much. He was saying the standard things, ‘the complaints must be addressed.’ He also talked about foreign roles, but did not say much. It is not clear where he stands.”

1745 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi was not at the rally today but it is reported that, via his mobile phone, he addressed them on loudspeakers.

BBC Persian is summarising former President Khatami's latest statement that all sides should avoid provocation and that a satisfactory resolution is possible through legal measures.

1705 GMT: While her father Hashemi Rafsanjani was setting out his public position, Faezeh Hashemi was attending (and reportedly speaking at) the Ghobar mosque rally. Mehdi Karroubi was also present.

1655 GMT: A summary of the Rafsanjani speech has now been posted online (in Farsi) by the Islamic State News Agency. The former President appears to have (cleverly) maintained his political space: he criticised "mysterious agents" who tried to create discord but also that the majority of demonstrators, when cognisant of those conspiracies, had been "neutral". Thus, his praise of the Supreme Leader sat alongside his recognition of protest as legitimate.

1635 GMT: Breaking news that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has finally emerged in public with his first significant post-election statement: he is reported to have called for "elaborate processing of legal complaints in cooperation with candidates". He has also praised the Supreme Leader for extending the deadline for filing of complaints.

1630 GMT: Latest from Ghobar mosque. Now reports of "50,000" in vicinity. Riot police are stationed in a school nearby. Mir Hossein Mousavi has not yet shown up.

Report that lawyer/university professor Kambiz Norouzi arrested in front of the mosque.

1622 GMT: Associated Press is reporting the use of tear gas on the crowd in front of Ghobar mosque. The chant from the crowd, referring in memoriam to Ayatollah Beheshti, killed in 1981, "Where are you Beheshti? Mousavi's left all alone."

1610 GMT: We've posted the first video from the Ghobar mosque rally (and the first significant video out of Iran in four days). Only a 26-second clip, but there look to be far more than the "5000" people mentioned by CNN.

1523 GMT: First report and picture of "memorial" rally at Ghobar mosque. Former President Khatami has spoken. The mosque is full and "tens of thousands" of people are on surrounding streets

1500 GMT: Detention Update. Dr. Ghorban Behzadian Nezhad, the head of Mir Hossein Mousavi's headquarters, has been released, but prominent actresses Homa Roosta and Mahtab Nasirpour have been arrested. A report (in Farsi) of those arrested at Laleh Park (see our 27 June updates) has now been posted.

1410 GMT: It Ain't Over. Here's another clue that the political battle continues, and it comes from no less than the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Press TV is playing its dutiful role by headlining, "Iran Slams Western Interference", but the real significance comes in Khamenei's call on Iranian politicians to toe the proper line: “If the nation and political elite are united in heart and mind, the incitement of international traitors and oppressive politicians will be ineffective.” He once again tried to lay responsibility for opposition candidates for whipping up impressionable extremists: “The people's emotions, especially that of the youth, must not be toyed with and they should not be pitted against one another."

Easy to translate this: challengers like Mehdi Karroubi (1315 GMT), Mir Hossein Moussavi, and even the "conservative" Mohsen Rezaei (1405 GMT) have not bowed down to the Guardian Council.

1405 GMT: Mohsen Rezaei, the most "conservative" of the three challengers to President Ahmadinejad, has also refused to quiet his objections to the regime's handling of the post-election situation. His representative has accused the Ministry of Interior of acting against the law and told the head of the election commission that he should stop provoking public opinion.

1330 GMT: Bluster and Reality from Washington. David Axelrod, a key advisor to President Obama, has spoken about Iran in his national television interview this morning. He labelled President Ahmadinejad's recent criticisms of the US and Western countries as "bloviations" trying to cause "political diversions".

Having made the necessary rhetorical posturing, Axelrod could then put out the less palatable but pragmatic line: the US, as part of the "5+1" group, would attend talks in Paris with Iran over its nuclear programme.

1315 GMT: Karroubi Makes His Move. The first answer to the question we set this morning, "Will the Guardian Council's actions today close off the high-profile protest?", has now come. Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi has issued a direct challenge to the Council, in effect saying it does not have the authority to rule.

Karroubi, like Mir Hossein Moussavi (and, from a different political direction, Ali Larijani), declared that the Council had lost the neutrality necessary to be a fair legislative-judicial court because certain members favoured President Ahmadinejad. He said (in the paraphrase of an Iranian translator), "The Guardian Council's actions in the past two weeks had significantly diminished their place in public opinion." The response to the calls for protest by former President Mohammad Khatami was "a big no" to the Council. Karroubi concluded, "The small section of votes assigned to me" would not stop his challenge.

1145 GMT: The internal situation has been further complicated this afternoon with news of the first approved public gathering in almost two weeks. A memorial nominally for Ayatolllah Mohammad Beheshti, a leader of the Islamic Revolution who was killed in a terrorist bombing in May 1981, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. local time (1330 to 1530 GMT) at the Ghobar mosque in Tehran. The gathering will inevitably be projected by many as the memorial, so far denied by authorities, for those killed in post-election violence. Mir Hossein Mousavi will be attending the service.

1130 GMT: The media is dominated at the moment by the story, released this morning by Iranian state media, that eight Iranian personnel of the British Embassy have been detained.

While the development is of course serious for those arrested, it should be as a diversion from the internal conflict. There is still no information on the deliberations of the Guardian Council, which was supposed to issue its definitive  ruling on the Presidential election today.

Instead, Iranian media is offering a cocktail of stories of foreign intervention. In addition to the British Embassy story, Press TV's website is featuring "Ahmadinejad warns Obama over interference" and "Obama to fund anti-govt. elements in Iran: Report". (The latter story is based on a Friday article in USA Today.)

0725 GMT: We've posted an important document, Mir Hossein Mousavi's letter to the Guardian Council reiterating his challenge to the Presidential vote. Far from backing down, at least publicly, Mousavi has again called for a new election and called for a neutral arbitration panel rather than the Council's "special committee" to review the electoral process.

We've also posted Mousavi's letter, written on Wednesday, to his overseas supporters.

0600 GMT: As we note in our "What to Watch For Today" feature, Press TV's website is pushing yesterday's announcement of the Expediency Council, a body for legal and political resolution led by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, calling on all campaigns to co-operate with the Guardian Council's "special committee" which is to hold an enquiry into the election. The Mousavi and Karroubi campaigns are holding out against appointment of a representative, however, because of doubts over the fairness and neutrality of the committee.

Even more interesting is CNN's return not only to the story, bumping Michael Jackson to #2, but to a highly critical position on the Iranian regime. Both its website and its current international broadcasts are highlighting the testimony of an Amnesty International official that the Basiji are taking injured demonstrators from hospitals. The claim follows a Friday report from Human Rights Watch of Basiji raiding homes and beating civilians, and Amnesty also has a list of detainees to add to that compiled by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

The Iran Crisis (Day 16): What to Watch For Today

The Latest from Iran (27 June): Situation Normal. Move Along.

NEW Making Links: Extract from Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
UPDATED Iran: A Tale of Two Twitterers

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IRAN FLAGSaturday is likely to be a steady-as-she-goes day, as the regime tries to consolidate its hold on public space, and any political discussions occur in private.

The non-appearance of the Supreme Leader at Friday prayers sent a powerful message to Iranians. Ayatollah Khameini could stay away because the situation was returning to normal, with a reduction in the demonstrations on the streets and less vocal opposition from key politicians.

That's not to say there was nothing from the platform at Tehran University. Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami laid out the hard line to those who might continue to challenge the re-election of President Ahmadinejad. Protesters would be dealt with firmly and severely. Meanwhile, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi pointed towards the possibilities of quieter negotiations with his reference to discussions to transform hostilities, antagonism and rivalries...into amity and cooperation among all parties". (See yesterday's analysis for more.)

This apparent tightening of the Government's grip was reinforced by two statements outside Iran yesterday. President Obama, at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, again assumed his tough rhetorical stance against the post-election, but sharp readers should note that his anger was directed specifically against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, leaving the Iranian system relatively untouched, and that there was nothing to jeopardise a return to engagement if/when the crisis abates. Perhaps even more significantly, the British Government, after this week's flare-up of tensions with Tehran, issued a statement for a resolution of the situation by diplomatic means. Translation: London is now concluding that the Supreme Leader and the Government have re-asserted control, and they do not want a fight.

Still, as the media turns away from the Iran story and the regime portrays the confidence that all will soon be resolved (Press TV English is once more saying nothing in its news headlines, while offering analysis in its "Iran Today" programme on US interference), it's important to note that people are still finding the space to protest. Yesterday's public show of resistance was the release of green balloons into Iranian skies, and last night the cries of "God is Great" and "Death to the Dictator" again were heard from rooftops.

At the moment, however, that continuing anger and demand for change has little visible leadership. There are reports that Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi is now withdrawing from the public challenge, former President Khatami has been silent for a few days, and, most importantly, Mir Hossein Mousavi is severely restricted in his movement and communications. There is no sign yet this morning of any impact of his latest letter to his supporters.

One more persistent and important note. Ahmadinejad continues a relatively hermit-like political existence. Mark this down: even if the Iranian system comes out of this crisis relatively unchanged, with the election results upheld and unchanged, Ahmadinejad is already a lame duck in office.

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Latest Video: Resistance and Violence (24 June)

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KHAMENEI3Since it was surprised by the large demonstration on 15 June, the Iranian Government's strategy --- haphazard at first, much more systematic in the last week --- has been to constrict the life out of the opposition, promising a token but lengthy vote recount, shutting down media coverage, detaining hundreds, and preventing any mass gatherings.

There is a growing sense, both among supporters of the regime and some in the opposition, that the strategy is working. The opposition's demonstrations were beaten down on Wednesday and blocked on Thursday, and the only hint of a public show today is the release of green balloons at 1 p.m. local time (0830 GMT). That leaves the public arena free for the Supreme Leader, as he leads prayers at Tehran University.

My speculaton is that Ayatollah Khomeini will speak from a platform of victory, to the acclaim of the worshipers. He will praise Iran's fortitude in the face of Western intervention and again extol its superior democracy. Again calling for order, he will offer a very limited reconciliation to the opposition, speaking of the Guardian Council's acknowledgement of concerns over the vote while condemning the "extremists" in the movement.

Watch, however, for the Supreme Leader's references (or lack of references) to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It has yet to dawn on many observers of the crisis, but the President will come out of this conflict badly even if the regime succeeds. His "legitimacy" has depended upon Khamenei's backing; Ahmadinejad has done little since his initial post-election celebration except to criticise President Obama on Wednesday. Behind-the-scene manoeuvres by clerics and politicians like former President Hashemi Rafsanjani have highlighted Ahmadinejad's weakness.

Best guess: just like last week, Khamenei will balance public support for the President with some words, possibly coded, to acknowledge the continuing relevance of Ahmadinejad's foes.

The highest-profile sign of opposition on Thursday was Mir Hosssein Mousavi's letter urging supporters to continue their demonstrations, but with restraint. The statement has gotten some notice outside Iran, especially in CNN's coverage, but it is unclear --- given the Government's limiting of communications --- how far the statement has circulated within the country.

It appears the widespread detentions have crippled the protests by shutting away both key organisers and communicators, from youth leaders to editors-in-chief.