Friday, June 19, 2009

Who speaks for the Islamic Republic?

The battle between Mousavi and Khameneiis playing out as a contest over which of them speaks for the rule of law as established by the revolution of 1979.

In his Friday Prayer speech earlier today, Khamenei drew all four candidates within the circle of "love" that he claims the Islamic Republic to be ("the elections of the 12 June was.... a show of their love for their regime") and casts the post-election resistance as the work of evil outsiders :

The competition for the election was very clear. Enemies and dirty Zionists tried to show the election as a contest between the regime and against it. That is not true, all four candidates support the regime." [He lists the government positions of the opposition candidates]. All of the candidates are part of this system and regime. Zionists and the bad Britishradio said it was a challenge to the regime.

"The issue is inside the system. The dispute is not against the revolution. The dispute was among candidates and there was a positive and negative effect. People were able to judge, they felt part of the system. All views were available to the people.

That "all four candidates support the regime" -- or did before the vote count -- is not only true, it also taps into the central theme of Mousavi's campaign and of his post-election protest. Back on April 3, the Iranian government vehicle Press TV reported:
[Mousavi] added that freedom of information should become a basis for both the government and economy, warning that overlooking the Iranian constitution and its contents posed a major challenge to the country.

"The issue of non-compliance with Iranian rules and regulations is the biggest problem that the country is currently faced with," he said.

Then, on June 13, Mousavi claimed authority to contest the vote in the name of the Revolution of 1979 and the law established by the revolutionary regime:
I advise all officials to halt this agenda at once before it is too late, return to the rule of law and protect the nation’s vote and know that deviation from law renders them illegitimate. They are aware better than anyone else that this country has been through a grand Islamic revolution and the least message of this revolution is that our nation is alert and will oppose anyone who aims to seize the power against the law.
And on June 14, he effectively cast those in control of the vote count as destroyers of the state:
The events that we all have witnessed in the past days were unprecedented in the Islamic Republic. The reason for the fearful concern of the people is due to the extreme sense of danger for the great achievements of the (Islamic) Revolution. Those who after massive cheatings have declared these unbelievable results for the presidential elections are now out to establish these results as undisputed facts and start a new chapter in the history of our country.
Now, Khamenei is trying to use this weapon of Mousavi's against him. He has drawn a line and declared that anyone who continues to protest the official election returns is aligned with the "Zionists" and evil western diplomats:

The guardian council has said that if people have doubts they should prove them. I will not follow false allegations. In all elections some are winners and some are losers. Correct legal procedures should be followed to ensure trust in the process. "The candidates should be careful about what they say and do" [Mousavi doesn't seem to be there]. "Some diplomats from the west are showing their real face and that they are enemies. The worst are the British.

The street is the place of living and trading. Why are you taking to the streets? We have had the election. Street demonstrations are a target for terrorist plots. Who would be responsible if something happened?

Khamenei has just washed his hands of the blood he's preparing to spill -- and in fact smeared it not only on Mousavi but on Rafsanjani:
"Rumours spread that were not true, and gave a bad image to the previous government. Calling the president a liar is that good? This is against the truth. The 30 years of the revolution was turning black." Khamenei talks about the rumours about Hashemi Rafsanjani. He praises Rafsanjani as "close" to the revolution. "The youth should know that... He was at the service of the revolution. I do have some difference with him, but people should not imagine something else between him and the president.
Again, Khamenei is at once asserting that all rivals within the current leadership circle are "part of this system and regime" and warning them not set themselves against it. Rafsanjani, however, is the only rival who might have the constitutional power to in turn cast Khamenei as the one outside the law. Rafsanjani is Chair of the Expediency Council, which according to the Economist in 2005 "was given an undefined 'supervisory authority' over all three branches of government," and head too of the Assembly of Experts, which "can also theoretically dismiss the supreme leader if he fails to meet specific criteria or becomes unable to execute his duties satisfactorily."

"Who would be responsible if something happened?" The rival histories are being written already.

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