Mir Hussein Mousavi is refusing to back down from an implacable Ayatollah Ali al-Khamenei. The Mullahs in Qom and the Assembly of Experts are under immense pressure to conclude the most chaotic episode in Iran’s revolutionary history. They may have just gotten their accidental reprieve as the celebrity website TMZ reports that Michael Jackson has just died here in Los Angeles and the world’s media will have to swing it’s attention deficit-plagued pendulum from the streets of Tehran to Westwood (which is somewhat ironic seeing as LA’s Iranian diaspora has been protesting in said Westwood daily and there was supposed to be some sort of Iranian solidarity day today).
Keep that momentous pixelated video coming!
I posted a piece addressed to Ayatollah Khamenei last night on the HP here.
According to the Guardian, during the called-for day of mourning, protests are not letting up from Kurdistan to Baluchistan and Ahmadinejad has not been spotted since Monday’s meeting of the the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Yekaterinberg. Today, the arm and headbands morphed from green to black in memory of those killed in the demo’s thus far. The democracy movement now appears to have gained enough momentum that real change may be afoot. It is up to the strength of the masses of the people at this point. Obama has not and really does not have a place to interject in Iran’s internal dynamics. People in the East have a long memory and if Baghdadis can bitterly compare the American sacking of Saddam Hussein to Hulagu Khan’s destruction of the libraries of the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258, then certainly Iranians will recall Operation Ajax just fifty-six years ago.
A bird’s eye view video, I’m guessing from a mobile phone, shows the breadth of the crisis the Iranian leadership must now genuinely face. The Iranian government’s strategy of blocking websites and giving foreign journo’s the shoe is inherently flawed. The regime is facing a sophisticated, erudite populace that will somehow be able to connect with the outside world no matter what e-fatwas they issue. Mobile and social networking technology is something the demonstrator’s predecessors a decade ago sorely lacked. This is not July of 1999. The post-revolution is and will be televised.
Is this Iran’s Tianamen?
Tehran’s restive urban class does not appear to be slowing down its outrage over what opposition supporters are terming a “Stolen Election.” Though without maintaining empirical evidence thus far, those opposed to the Ahmadinejad government here in the West are absolutely inclined to support such claims. Thousands of people, who mostly appear to be under thirty, continue to pour into the Iranian capital’s smog choked boulevards not for another so-called revolution, but to make their voices heard and their votes counted. It remains to be seen whether Tehran today will be more like Beijing in 1989 or Tehran in 1979. The Dear Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hoseyni Khamenei, has indicated that his divine assessment may in fact need to be reassessed. No small feat for a grand man so divine, Khamenei may be genuinely worried about his and his Qom-based epigones hold on a tiered absolute power. As his history has shown us all with Shah Reza Pahlavi, there are moments in time where one man cannot withstand the will of millions of dissatisfied, motivated people. No doubt the present dualist Qom-Tehran based power structure has not lost this irony. Though admitting such after three decades of moribund revolutionary rhetoric is akin to heresy in modern Iran. Ahmadinejad, though somewhat charismatic and often inadvertantly amusing on the global stage, has largely been an abject failure domestically. Iran’s power projection into Iraq and Afghanistan during the calamitous Bush wars has been nothing short of remarkable. But as Iran punches its green fist outward into its neighborhood, its economy has remained thoroughly stagnant even as oil prices soared at record highs. Minority unrest has continued to flare up in the country’s remote corners (purportedly egged on by the CIA according to the New Yorker’s Sy Hersh) with discontent has been simmering among elements of the Left, Center and Right.
The United States has been trying to promote democracy across the Middle East for years and here it is in all of its blood red and Islamic green glory. It scored a recent coup with the victory of the Hariri-led bloc in Beirut last week and Islamism is not dogmatically triumphant in the Middle East contrary to the group-think following the Hamas win in Gaza. The U.S. has boxed itself into a bit of a foreign policy corner and only the most deft of manouveres may speed its hoped for exit. The demonstrations have certainly created a conflict for Israeli hawks who love nothing more than another unequivocal Ahmadinejad win to justify their often aggressive rhetoric. A Mousavi government in Iran would throw the arithmetic of the Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition out of whack and force groups like AIPAC in Washington to reconfigure their hardened stance towards a boogieman vanquished not by a calculated air raid, but by internally driven democratic transition.
UPDATE: According to what the BBC is reporting from a statement by the Guardian Council will be conducting a vote recount. Power to the people? We will see…