Iran is still simmering; there is still fire beneath the ashes of the savage repression, and no one knows what the tens of millions of anti-regime Iranians will do in the coming weeks and months.
Michael Ledeen, Refusing To See Evil Clearly, The Corner at NRO, 29 June 2009
With a brutal hand, Iran's theocracy has been successful over the past days in driving the protestors off of Iran's streets. It is a tactical victory, just as the Shah had tactical victories in the early days of Iran's year long revolution three decades ago. It does not mean that the war is won or lost.
The regime is still pushing the meme that the election was fair and that the discontent is the result of "traitors," including Mousavi, in the pay of the U.S. and U.K. Iran's theocracy, like medieval theocracies of old, depends for its legitimacy on the governed believing that their clerical overlords are acting in accordance with divine guidance. Few if any in Iran can be operating under such a fantastical belief now. And in an important development, one of the major religious organizations in Iraq issued a public statement calling the election a fraud and the government illegitimate. This from the NYT:
An important group of religious leaders in Iran called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate on Saturday, an act of defiance against the country’s supreme leader and the most public sign of a major split in the country’s clerical establishment.
A statement by the group, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, represents a significant . . . setback for the government and especially the authority of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose word is supposed to be final. The government has tried to paint the opposition and its top presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, as criminals and traitors, a strategy that now becomes more difficult.
“This crack in the clerical establishment, and the fact they are siding with the people and Moussavi, in my view is the most historic crack in the 30 years of the Islamic republic,” said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University. “Remember, they are going against an election verified and sanctified by Khamenei.”
The announcement came on a day when Mr. Moussavi released documents detailing a campaign of fraud by the current president’s supporters, and as a close associate of the supreme leader called Mr. Moussavi and former President Mohammad Khatami “foreign agents,” saying they should be treated as criminals.
The documents, published on Mr. Moussavi’s Web site, accused supporters of the president of printing more than 20 million extra ballots before the vote and handing out cash bonuses to voters. . . .
“The significance is that even within the clergy, there are many who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the election results as announced by the supreme leader,” said an Iranian political analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. . . .
The clerics’ statement chastised the leadership for failing to adequately study complaints of vote rigging and lashed out at the use of force in crushing huge public protests.
It even directly criticized the Guardian Council, the powerful group of clerics charged with certifying elections.
“Is it possible to consider the results of the election as legitimate by merely the validation of the Guardian Council?” the association said.
Perhaps more threatening to the supreme leader, the committee called on other clerics to join the fight against the government’s refusal to adequately reconsider the charges of voter fraud. The committee invoked powerful imagery, comparing the 20 protesters killed during demonstrations with the martyrs who died in the early days of the revolution and the war with Iraq, asking other clerics to save what it called “the dignity that was earned with the blood of tens of thousands of martyrs.”
The statement was posted on the association’s Web site late Saturday and carried on many other sites, including the Persian BBC, but it was impossible to reach senior clerics in the group to independently confirm its veracity.
The statement was issued after a meeting Mr. Moussavi had with the committee 10 days ago and a decision by the Guardian Council to certify the election and declare that all matters concerning the vote were closed.
But the defiance has not ended.
With heavy security on the streets, there is a forced calm. But each day, slowly, another link falls from the chain of government control. Last week, in what appeared a coordinated thrust, Mr. Moussavi, Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Khatami all called the new government illegitimate. On Saturday, Mr. Milani of Stanford said, former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani met with families of those who had been arrested, another sign that he was working behind the scenes to keep the issue alive.
“I don’t ever remember in the 20 years of Khamenei’s rule where he was clearly and categorically on one side and so many clergy were on the other side,” Mr. Milani said. “This might embolden other clergy to come forward.” . . .
Read the entire article. Our concentration should be on isolating and punishing the bloody theocracy and insuring that news such as statement from the Shia clerics this makes it around government efforts to control the news in Iran. Obama's concentration is, as I posted below, the opposite.