Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Juan Cole (7)


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.

Iran: Can Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani Prompt a Solution?

The Latest from Iran (21 June): Does the Fight Continue?

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LARIJANIIn the context of Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani's manoeuvring this weekend within the Iranian Government , both to defend the system and to criticise aspects of it (see 0745 and 1010 GMT in our updates for 21 June), two vital articles have been posted. Tehran Bureau has posted an informative and interesting profile of the Speaker of the Parliament, a "conservative pragmatist".

The profile has an intriguing postscript. When you try to access Larijani's website, you get the message, "Account for domain has been suspended." (We just checked, and that is still the case.)

And, on the current issues, Juan Cole has posted the US Government's Open Source Center summary of Larijani's interview with state-run IRIB 2 TV this morning. It provides a fascinating update of our posts: Larijani gave an explanation of "why more votes were cast for Mahmud Ahmadinejad", but he then expressed concern that a review of the election would be difficult, as members of the Guardian Council had taken political positions: "I think that it was better for them not to take sides (in favor of Ahmadinejad)."

Significance? Larijani is not calling for an overturning of these electoral results but --- as a "conservative pragmatist" --- looking for reforms of the system so that the process cannot be questioned again: "This issue can be used as experience for the next elections." (Larijani's call for an investigation of security services' behaviour in raids of universities should be seen in the same light, seeking to restore public faith in institutions.)

I think Larijani is a skillful politician. However, I think that he may be too late in his manoeuvres. His call for reform "for the next time" might have been viable days ago. But, after the Supreme Leader's Friday address and Saturday's violence, the pragmatist may be stranded in the middle of a political situation  that is increasingly polarised and offers only all-or-nothing resolutions.

The Latest from Iran (20 June): From Rally to Street Fighting

NEW Video and Transcipt: The Moment of Truth?  Mousavi's Speech at Saturday’s Protests
NEW Iran: EA’s Chris Emery in The Guardian on Khamenei and Mousavi
Iran: An Iranian Live-Blogs the Supreme Leader’s Speech
Twittering Iran: What the “New Media” Means for Politics, Protest, and Democracy
The Latest from Iran (19 June): Speeches and Rallies

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IRAN DEMOS 82350 GMT: An Iranian activist claims, based on this posting in Farsi, that the Assembly of Experts' letter backing the Supreme Leader was issued a day before his Friday address. That would be more evidence of a systematic effort to rally the clerics behind Ayatollah Khamenei, rebuffing Hashemi Rafsanjani.

2152 GMT: CNN, based on Iranian hospital sources, is reporting at least 19 people died in today's violence. The unconfirmed death toll is as high as 150.

2150 GMT: More from the activist who was at today's marches (see 2110 GMT): "All routes to Azady square were blocked & if anyone stopped walking or walking slow [security forces] hit him/her brutally. There was no safe path, people were walking in cycles between all variety of security forces. I think they made fun of people, don't go here, go this way, not that way & for no apparent reason suddenly attacking random people. We tried our best using all known shortcuts for reaching Azady SQ where Mousavi was, but ended up in face to face with IRG [Republican Guard]. They weren't just the ordinary police or motorcycle riot guard, they were soldiers holding MP5 supported by reinforced military cars. We didn't realize for a moment they started shooting at people, the gun's sound was like a toy gun, not loud & the soliders were smiling. I was going to tell Masood they are using fake guns for scaring people! until people started screaming in agony. We ran as fast as we could in the opposite direction, at the same time Basiji bastards started to hit fleeing people. I think I saw 2 or 3 people lying on the ground in blood & IRG started to move them, probably hide them."

2140 GMT: We've posted the English translation of this afternoon's speech by Mir Hossein Mousavi.

2110 GMT: One of the most prominent activists on Twitter has returned from today's marches with this report, "It was a nightmare, I can barely breath & my face is burning, Masood got shot in the arm & Shayan's brother is missing. I don't know where to start with, first they attack our peaecful memorial gathering in front of the university with water gun.The university's doors were closed, we couldn't run everywhere! & then they start shooting tear gas at us. they were so many! riot police, normal police, intel, IRG [Republican Guard], Basij! I managed to scape, but they captured so many people."

2105 GMT: An Iranian activist asks on Twitter, "Why are Rafsanjani and Khatami so silent?" Indeed, apart from Ayatollah Montazeri with his general letter this morning, has any "establishment" figure come out alongside Mousavi with the demonstrators today?

2055 GMT: Twitter sources say that this Mehr News page (in Farsi) summarises the support of the Assembly of Experts for the Supreme Leader's Friday statement. This in turn indicates that the initial attempt of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani to mobilise the Assembly against the election outcome has fizzled out.

2050 GMT: Latest reported arrest is of Mohsen Mirdamadi, the head of the pro-reform Islamic Iran Participation Front.

2005 GMT: Reported arrests throughout the day in Iran, including editors, Mousavi campaign workers, and journalists. The latest reported detainee is Jila Bani Yaghoub, journalist and women's rights activist.

1915 GMT: A few hours ago, we posted a video of a woman "badly injured" by a gunshot in today's demonstrations. The footage is so graphic that we have moved to the "jump page" after the More... tag.

I have just read more information on The New York Times blog about the incident. The woman was a bystander watching events; according to a doctor who witnessed the event, a paramilitary Basiji deliberately fired at her chest. She died within moments of the shooting.

1905 GMT: Tehran Bureau reports, "Hospital close to the scene in Tehran: 30-40 dead thus far as of 11pm and 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured."

1900 GMT: Press TV continuing to lead with "police usedbatons, water cannons, and tear gas on protesters", over images of a burning bus in the centre of a Tehran boulevard. It adds, "Reports say clashes are continuing" and "several people have been injured".

Press TV continues to declare " a terrorist attack" at Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum although casualty figures have been revised downward to the dead assailant and three injured. No supporting footage is provided.

1835 GMT: President Obama has just released this statement on Iran:
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.

1810 GMT: Tehran Bureau reports, "WHOLE city is shaking with very loud screams from rooftops. Their loud voices calling only for God is filled with fear, hatred, and hope." Lara Satrakian of ABC News: ""People are very angry…they are screaming like a banshee…this ain't aloha [sic] akbar anymore."

"Explosive" shouting also reported in Mashaad.

1755 GMT: Reports of loud shouts of "God is Great" from Tehran rooftops.

Reports of clashes with paramilitary Basiji at Haft Hooz Square. Further claims that demonstrators set fire to a mosque in Tehran and also set alight a bus and several motorcycles.

1745 GMT: The UK's Sky News is currently showing footage of protesters in Tehran seemingly being kicked and beaten. They are streaming a small amount of footage on their frontpage. You may also be able to see the footage by clicking 'Video News Headlines' or 'Watch Sky News Live' in the right-hand bar of their main story.

1725 GMT: The English translation of a  letter purportedly from Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, the designated successor Ayatollah Khomeini before falling out of favour in 1998, has been posted: "A legitimate state must respect all points of view. It may not oppress critical views. I fear that this will lead to the loss of people’s faith in Islam."

1720 GMT: Reports that IRIB 1 [Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting] now broadcasting "confessions" from detained protesters.

Also reports that people are blocking streets in east Tehran and setting fires.

1650 GMT: Claims now of fighting in Tehran, Shiraz, Rasht, Tabriz, Ahwaz, and Isfahan.

1645 GMT: We've posted a video which purports to be of Mir Hossein Mousavi addressing a rally in Jeyhoon Street in Tehran this afternoon. If verified, this could be footage of a key point in the development of this crisis.

1600 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi's Facebook page has been updated three times in Farsi in the last hour. We're seeking a translation.

1543 GMT: Claims that, in his speech, Mousavi declared the Presidential election "null and void". Claims also that he cast shame upon the Government and declared that he is ready for martyrdom.

1540 GMT: Eyewitness reports, via The New York Times blog, confirm fighting in Shiraz.

1530 GMT: Reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi is now addressing a crowd in Jeyhoon Street, beginning his speech, "We all go back to God."

1525 GMT: Reports of heavy fighting in Khosh St. and claims of shot protester as security forces dispersed people in Khargar Street. Claims that many people are trapped in Azadi Square.

Also reports of fighting in a 2nd city, Shiraz.

1520 GMT: CNN, whose reporters in Tehran are not allow to broadcast without permission of Iranian officials, are going to great lengths to cast scepticism on Press TV's report of the bombing at Ayatollah Khomeini's mosque. At the same time, to offer some coverage, they are playing portions of Press TV English's broadcast.

1505 GMT: Tehran Bureau reports clashes across Tehran, including Vali-e Asr Street, and gunfire and sirens around Tohid Square. It also reports protesters gathering at Vanak Square in north Tehran. There are unverified reports of one demonstrator killed at the crossing of Vali-e Asr Street and Enqelhab Square, and 20 injured protesters transferred to Loghman Hospital in 30 minutes.

There are reports that Mousavi supporters set fire to an Ahmadinejad headquarters.

Tehran Bureau: "The city is boiling over. It's a mess."

1500 GMT: Press TV's hourly lead: "Police have used batons and water cannons to disperse protestors in central Tehran who gathered to hold an illegal rally. Reports say sporadic clashes are continuing....Two helicopters have been seen hovering over the area....Police say a week of protests in the capital have injured 400 forces and done a great deal of damage to public property."

In what is likely to be a significant line, Press TV also emphasized that the Assembly of Combatant Clerics (associated with former President Khatami) had called off the rally after the Ministry of Interior refused a permit. And the station is repeating the morning statement of police commanders that Mir Hossein Mousavi will be responsible for any violence.

Press TV says three people, including the bomber, and eight were injured in the "terrorist" attack on Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum in southern Tehran.

1450 GMT: We've posted latest video of the clashes in Azadi Square and off Engelab Square, including BBC footage of shooting, fires, and clashes.

1430 GMT: We're back with the following. The bombing at Ayatollah Khomeini's shrine was reportedly caused by a suicide bomber.

Eyewitnesses reported about 20,000 riot police surround Enqelab Square, armed with rifles, water cannon, and tear gas. Dozens of people were reportedly beaten to force them to leave the square, with security forces reportedly beating passing motorcyclists and even those just passing by. Some demonstrators took refuge in Tehran University.

1325 GMT: We're off to check out some reports. Back just after 1400 GMT.

1317 GMT: Press TV reporting two blasts at Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum, with two hurt (Fars News says one dead). Reports that police have closed off Tehran University.

1310 GMT: Twitter report: "In Khosh Street police is attacking people with batons & pepper spray trying to disperse people, shots can be heard around Azadi [Square]."

1300 GMT: Reports of security forces trying to prevent people assembling, chasing them into alleys and allegedly using batons. Demonstrators reportedly trapped between Behboodi and Enqelab Squares.

Reports of gunshots being fired into the air, possibly as warnings. Also reports of tear gas and water cannon being used.

1240 GMT: First pictures coming through from today's march: riot police around square (left).

1230 GMT: Associated Press reports entrance to Revolution (Enqelab) Square blocked by fire engines, with riot police surrounding Tehran University.

1213 GMT: Classic state-run double-speak on Press TV's website. It is still not mentioning today's march. Instead, its story is of the National Security Council warning Mir Hossein Mousavi "against 'the consequences' of backing street rallies". The picture? A very large rally.

1203 GMT: Unconfirmed report "from usually reliable source" to The Guardian of London that Mousavi walking with 10,000 supporters from his party office.

1200 GMT: Witness reports (albeit from before 1130 GMT) that riot police cutting off access to gathering point for march.

1150 GMT: First reports of clashes, with beating of demonstrators near Azadi Square.

1133 GMT: First reports of the march: large numbers gathering, no action by police. Cellphones in area reportedly disconnected.

1107 GMT: Al Jazeera English and Twitter sources report heavy presence of riot police on both sides of Enqelab Square.

1103 GMT: It's On! This message was posted 20 minutes ago on the Facebook page of Mir Hossein Mousavi: "The CRUCIAL Demonstration on Saturday 16:00 in Tehran and all around the world, please spread this message around."

1100 GMT: From one of the most useful Iranian sources on Twitter: "To Western Media: Stop sharing false information given to you by Iranian state television. The demonstration will GO ON. It is NOT canceled."

1045 GMT: As we wait for developments, some interesting thoughts from Gary Sick, one of the foremost US experts on Iran, on the Supreme Leader's address, Mousavi's position, and President Obama's strategy on his blog.

1030 GMT: One hour to the scheduled start of the march. Still awaiting statement by Mir Hossein Moussavi. Reuters reports the statement of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemad-e Melli party, "Because permission was not obtained, the rally today has been cancelled."

1000 GMT: Press TV English interviews Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi of Tehran University (and a past contributor to Enduring America) about "reports here and there of protests today in Tehran": "Wouldn't this be some kind of defiance of the Supreme Leader's call for calm and peace?"

Marandi replies about "one of the things important things the Leader said yesterday and what most people believe": "It's very hard to imagine vote-rigging where 11 million votes have been manipulated....It's virtually impossible to do that." He criticises Mousavi and Karroubi for their absence from this morning's Guardian Council meeting. "All sides should calm down a bit....Shopowners and ordinary people on the streets want calm. Demonstrations on the part of any candidate...[are] irresponsible."

0930 GMT: Al Jazeera reports that Guardian Council, after its meeting with campaigns this morning, says it will conduct a random recount of "up to 10 percent" of ballot boxes from last Friday.

0907 GMT: Events moving fast. Questions now as pro-Mousavi website (text in Farsi) has announces the withdrawal of support from the Assocation of Combatant Clerics for the rally.

(It should be noted that withdrawals of support also happened on Monday, but in end Mousavi --- who had supposedly backed away from the protest --- appeared at gathering of hundreds of thousands.)

0903 GMT: Al Jazeera English reports from Iran state media that main reformist cleric body, the Association of Combatant Clerics, which includes former President Khatami, say they do not sanction this afternoon's rally.

News agencies are reporting an "important" statement from Mir Hossein Mousavi soon. Al Jazeera also passes on reports that Parliamentary committees are meeting with former President Hashemi Rafsanjani to ask him to take a "greater role" in resolving the crisis.

0900 GMT: A clue to the day? Press TV English reports that Mohsen Rezaie attended this morning's meeting with the Guardian Council but Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi did not appear.

0850 GMT: Juan Cole has posted his analysis of the Supreme Leader's Friday address: "The real question is whether this is 1963, when the shah managed to put down a rebellion led by Ruhollah Khomeini, or whether it is 1978-79, when he failed to do so. The answer lies in the depth of support for the protests among the population, and in the stance of the various armed forces toward the latter."

0830 GMT: Reuters, via Iran's Fars News Agency, quotes an Iranian police commander that his forces will deal firmly with "illegal" rallies "beginning today".

0800 GMT: An aide to Mehdi Karroubi has told Agence France Presse that the rally will go ahead.

0705 GMT: There is an intriguing story on Press TV's English website, indicating both that the "inaccuracies" in last Friday's vote may be far greater than the outside figure of "1 million" in "mistakes" cited by the Supreme Leader yesterday and that challenges to the system are coming from candidates across the board, not just Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Presidential challenger Mohsen Rezaei is claiming that he received 3.5 to 7 million votes in last Friday's elections (official returns gave him less than 700,000). A spokesman of the Guardian Council "cautioned" Rezaei against "agitating public opinion".

0700 GMT: Press TV English is making no reference to today's march. Instead, it is still focusing on the Supreme Leader's address from almost 24 hours ago and saying that the National Security Council is "holding Mousavi responsible" for any violence from "unauthorised protest rallies".

The NSC also said that "a network" of agitators responsible to "foreign powers" has been carrying out violence.

0655 GMT: Meanwhile, we are waiting to hear the outcome of a meeting that could have a significant influence on developments. The Guardian Council is seeing representatives of all four Presidential campaigns about the 646 official complaints over the election. On Tuesday, when the Council agreed to hold at least a partial recount, it said the process would take 7 to 10 days.

Morning Update 0630 GMT (1100 Tehran): Five hours before the scheduled start of today's major rally, in Enqelab Square in Tehran, and there are still conflicting stories as to whether it will go ahead. Reuters is still quoting "an ally" of Mousavi who spoke to them yesterday, "Mousavi has no plans to hold a rally tomorrow (Saturday) or the day after tomorrow."

However, Twitter sources inside Iran who have proven reliable continue to publicise the march, quoting former President Mohammad Khatami. Khatami's Facebook page continues to carry the announcement, posted last night, that the demonstration will take place, with Khatami and Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi in attendance.

My guess, following the excellent analysis of Chris Emery yesterday, is that the march proceeds.

Iran: An Iranian Live-Blogs the Supreme Leader's Speech

The Latest from Iran (20 June): Will The Rally Go Ahead?

Iran: The 7 Lessons of the Supreme Leader’s Address
Iran: Live Blog of Supreme Leader’s Address (19 June)
Transcript: Ayatollah Khamanei’s Speech at Prayers (19 June)

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KHAMENEI4Juan Cole has posted the following live blog from an Iranian correspondent, writing as Ayatollah Khamenei spoke on Friday. There are minor but significant corrections to our own live blog: for example, Mohsen Rezaei was the one opposition Presidential candidate who attended. There are important impressions of conflict, "Uncharacteristically, the Leader, gets hot...folks here and there interrupt his speech and he tells them to listen," and forthcoming violence, "The green light has been given to the [paramilitary basij to, excuse my language, to kick ass, chew gum, and take names."

Rough notes...The event is like the old Red Square May Day parades. We look to see who is there, and who is not. Dr. A, Larajani, Haddad Adel, the top leadership is all there. Karrobi and Mousavi are not...but Rezaei is, sitting in the back of the VIP section.

Supreme Leader emphasizes that difference in opinion, difference in program between candidates is normal, natural. But beware, for months the enemy had been laying the groundwork to label these elections a fraud. These elections which, with the exception of the vote for the Islamic Republic in Spring of 1979, were without rival. Iran represents a third way, between dictatorships and the false democracies of the rest of the world.

He speaks of the violence, it is clear that they are laying the groundwork for a crackdown. Chaos has to be stopped. The way of the law, rah-e qanun. There are laws and we cannot allow the killing or violence to continue, either by basijis or opposition (throughout the speech he condemns the mistakes of both sides, but as I will soon make clear, comes down in favor of one side).

Supreme Leader names Nouri and Rafsanjani by name, a remarkable act by his own admission. He lauds the long record of service of both men to the country, says that he has known Rafsanjani 52 years. Leader says while there is corruption in Iran, how can anyone say that Raf. is corrupt? Stands up for him. This is clearly a slap on the wrist to the current president, for what Dr. A[hmadinejad] said about Nouri and Rafsanjani during the debates. It is not Iranian, not appropriate for such ugliness to penetrate politics. Good words were spoken during the debates, but unfortunately nastiness and un-Islamic comments were made and we need to be careful...

Mousavi, Karrobi, and Rezaei were described by their previous post and experiences, they were all defended by the Leader as good men devoted to the I[slamic] R[epublic of] I[ran]. They are almost incidental, it is so so clear that this is a grudge match, beef, between Hashemi and Dr. A. The Leader himself said as much, saying that there has been a difference in opinion between the two men stretching back to 2005. Then came the kicker, the turning point, one sentence followed by a great cheer from the audience: There is a difference in opinion between the two, and my opinion (or preference) is closer to the president than Rafsanjani.

The Leader made his choice clear.

The green light has been given to the basij to, excuse my language, to kick ass, chew gum, and take names.

A particularly juicy twist, turning night into day and a shot at the U.S. and the 2000 elections, says that you can say that cheating occurs when the difference in the votes is close, 100,000 or 500,000, or 1 million. But 11 million? How can that be cheating?

But we have a process, we will count the votes with the representatives of the candidates present, the Guardian Council will fulfill its obligation.

More night-into-day-ism: Says that there are winners and losers in elections, and for the losers to now want the "rules" to be changed or modified is wrong.

Qanun, qanun, qanun. Law, law, law. It's unnerving the emphasis on the need for law and order.

By the end, and uncharacteristically, the Leader, gets hot...folks here and there interrupt his speech and he tells them to listen. When talking about U.S. and the west and the efforts of a certain American Zionist to launch a velvet revolution in Georgia, he says that these "aqmaqha" or idiots think that they can do the same in use such language is really shocking in the Iranian context.

Bizarre ending, ends in weeping, because the Leader says that I love you more than you know...

Overall, it does not look good, worse than it ever was... "

Iran Eyewitness: The Wednesday and Thursday Demonstrations in Tehran

The Latest from Iran (19 June): The Known and the Unknown
Iran Eyewitness: More Audio from “Alive in Tehran”

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IRAN DEMOS 4Last night a Mousavi supporter e-mailed the following account to a list of academic specialists on Iran and the Persian Gulf. Enduring America staff are members as is Juan Cole, who has also posted this. The author gave permission to publish his testimony if it was kept anonymous.

Again, thanks to all for their messages and support.

1 -- Mobile phones are working very intermittently
2 -- Sms services have been down for many days now, so it is impossible for us to text you back!

The third march – at Haft-e Tir square on 17th June. I did not attend but everyone reported massive turnout and a very peaceful, silent demonstration. Since I have little to report on day three, some other points that appear very important to me to raise:

Away from the large crowds and the relative protection of the capital, smaller towns people in the provinces are much more exposed and vulnerable to violence by the local militias. There is virtually no media coverage of what is happening in Tabriz, Shiraz, Esfahan, Bushehr. Bandar Abbas. To the extent that we have information, it is because volunteers are putting a lot on the line to film and photograph and the very gruesome situation in these cities. It takes a lot of courage for students and demonstrators to go out on the streets of Esfahan when the prosecutor general of that province has declared that all kinds of illegal gatherings are against Islam and the law of the Islamic Republic and can be punishable by death. It takes a lot of courage and guts to protest anywhere in this country where you are not protected by your numbers (let alone the police and the justice system) and where you are vulnerable to attack (like in student dorms).

On a more positive note and as noted in my previous post, the dynamics of this movement are becoming more and more creative. From the moment everybody embraced silence as the best form of criticism, supporters from their cars switched from honking their horns to using their flasher. Last night, as I drove home, I noticed the blinkers in oncoming traffic (coming actually from the direction of Haft-e Tir Square). I didn’t take long to spread the message. Soon, everyone around was switching their flasher on, an act reflective of a truth that has been firmly established now after five consecutive days of protest: silence is speaking very loudly indeed.

Fourth march – today, 18 June. As I am typing, cries of Allah-o Akbar are resonating all throughout my neighborhood, despite the stormy weather (this takes place every night between 9 and 11 in sign of protest). The fourth march started from Toup Khoune Square. Marchers took Ferdowsi Street until Ferdowsi Square where they swerved onto Enghelab Street and dispersed around Tehran University. The word given out was that this event was to be a strictly silent mourning march to commemorate and honor the people who have died in the last couple of days. Everyone was wearing black and black ribbons were being distributed to wear alongside the green ribbon, around the wrist or pinned to the chest, tied to a backpack or worn across the forehead. Little pieces of paper printed with slogans such as “Blood? Why” were passed around for people to wear.

As I mentioned in my previous email, today made it very clear that the dynamics of the movement are constantly evolving. From the first march where the only focus was on Mousavi/ people’s vote to Mousavi, today’s slogans touched on issues of freedom/justice/innocent people dying for a just cause. The posters of Mousavi of day one have given way to posters expressing deeper themes, and the deeper problems that exist in this country. “Democracy does not equal Dead Student”, “Stop Killing Us”, “We are not rioters”, “Silence is not acceptance”, “The key to victory: Calmness, Hope and Patience”.

About the march: it was entirely silent and peaceful. No riot police anywhere. Ferdowsi was entirely closed off but on Enghelab, cars were painfully trying to keep one lane open. The drivers were stuck in pretty bad traffic, but to the marchers waiving their V-signs to them, a great majority of them would smile and respond with the same. A bus driver was filming on Enghelab. When asked how far ahead and how far back the march stretched, he smiled and said: a long way. The crowd was mixed: young people mostly but a considerable number of parents with small children and elderly people, chadori women and even a mollah.

On Enghelab, where the marchers were cut off from the sidewalks by tall metal railing, shopkeepers and passers-by volunteered to take people’s empty water bottles and refill them with fresh cool water from the watering hoses. At one point, a motorcycle stuck on the sidewalk with an overheated engine started making weird noises. The elderly woman next to me immediately panicked and rushed to her husband saying: it looks like they’re shooting. Later on, a wave of panic went over the crowd and everyone ran for cover while ducking with their hands over their heads. No one knows why, it was over in seconds.

At the end of the march, a very emotional moment. At dusk in front of Tehran University, people lit candles in remembrance of those killed in the violence of the past few days, then dispersed quietly.