Friday, June 19, 2009

More Doors Close on Tehran's Future

The Ayatollah made a speech today that pretty clearly solidified his hardline stance. A few highlights:

1) No protests, no really, he means it this time. And he might, that's the tough part. Bullets may begin to fly with very little prejudice.
2) "How can you cheat by 11 million votes?" An exact (translated) quote, signifying that while a recount is happening, it's just not going to change the outcome.
3) Moderates both in elected government and religious government were dramatically missing from his side during prayers this Friday--Ahmedinejad, however, was prominently featured.
4) He called Ahmedinejad's victory "definitive," and that there would be no re-vote. He stressed that democracy does not work when the losing side takes to the streets and demands an annulment every time they lose--with this, he tried very hard to undermine the credibility of the protesters.
5) Interestingly, he criticized both sides for attacking each other, and said that all candidates had great records of service to the Islamic Republic.
6) Of course, these protests are the fault of Israel, the US, and the UK. This, more than anything, probably angers the youngsters beyond comprehension. It is one thing to stand firm against a protest, but to call it ingenuine and fabricated by state enemies is insulting enough to probably fan the flames.

Pro-Mousavi websites have not yet announced any alterations to a plan to march on Saturday from Revolution Square to Freedom Square. If the Ayatollah is going to follow through on his promises of crackdown, tomorrow is the time--or else he starts to lose credibility. Mousavi and the reformists take incredible risk if they do not cave, but if they do cave, they largely solidify the precedent that the regime can simply rig the elections however it wants from here until doomsday. By standing up to the Ayatollah, Mousavi and the reformists send a very stern warning to the leadership that the Iranian people will not sit down and tolerate election fraud--and such a statement would hold firm even if they were broken by sufficient violence. The Guardian Council does not want this kind of violence to happen every four years, and may reconsider its rigging policies if the conflict actually comes to a head.

Perhaps, then, Mousavi knows he will be a Martyr, to instill hope in future generations. It would be a sad and dim fate for him and his supporters, but surely they must now sense some level of hopelessness in the political situation; they do not have the political power nor the violent force to overcome the regime. They can embarrass it, vilify it, and doing so will have significant implications on future policy. But changing the outcome of the election is almost certainly a battle that is lost.
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