Sunday, January 03, 2010

Under the dull surface at Iran's PressTV

In its tortuous, indirect way, official Iranian media seems to be reflecting a move by some in the Iranian  establishment to read Mousavi's ringing affirmation of citizens' rights and denunciation of government response to the June elections as something of an olive branch. 

While Mousavi's Jan. 1 statement challenged the Iranian government to roll back all its repressive actions following the June elections, PressTV today chooses to read his statement as a retreat from challenging the government's legitimacy - echoing an interpretation to that effect from fellow presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei, (who first joined Mousavi and Karroubi in protesting the June election tally but later caved) reported yesterday.

Mousavi has always presented himself as a reformer from within, seeking to hold the regime to adherence to the Constitution and what he casts as fidelity to the roots and early history of the Islamic Republic (never mind its blood-soaked reality). 

I would not presume to interpret the multivalent cryptic messages in the PressTV story excerpted below.  But just to catalog the various notes in the chord, the story asserts and highlights: 1) alleged popular disapproval of Mousavi; 2) government's role as protector and restorer of order in the wake of unruly demonstrators (that is, in this case, mildly unruly government supporters); 3) Mousavi's careful distinction between the illegal actions of the current regime and the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic's institutions (i.e., his call on Parliament and the judiciary to hold the regime accountable); and 4) Rezaei's interpretation of Mousavi's remarks, offset by allusion to those calling for Mousavi's head. Here are the first paragraphs:
Anti-Mousavi slogans purged in Tehran
Sun, 03 Jan 2010 12:13:46 GMT

The Tehran Municipality has been clearing the Iranian capital of graffiti containing negative comments about defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

On January 1, Mousavi issued a statement, wherein he put forward a series of proposals for overcoming the current situation in the country.

In the statement, he made no reference to his earlier demand of holding a new presidential election. He also refrained from denying the legitimacy of the current government.

Mousavi said the executive administration must be held accountable for the problems it has caused before the people, parliament and judiciary. 

The rest is here.  Cf. this letter from a reader at Enduring America:

By offering a five point compromise, even each and every point is unacceptable, [Mousavi] has started the argument for compromise amongst the cronies of the regime….The regime collapsing over night is terrible. The regime has to evolve to collapse over a period of time, and the Mousavi plan is a great path forward. It sets a simple basic agenda that if enforced will spell the end of the Islamic Republic of Iran as we know it as a dictatorial theocracy. Any one of the five points is a no-starter, no-go for the regime, however…if the current stalemate continues it is also the end of the regime.
In a sense Mousavi is masterfully acknowledging that he is losing control of the Green wave, but also masterfully turns this to a time pressure on the regime, saying deal with me or deal with the wrath of the people who will rip you apart.
 And Scott Lucas' response:

In the last 48 hours — returning to initiatives in the days and weeks before that — the clerics, politicians, and members of Parliament who do not sympathise with the Green movement or Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, but who also are unsettled by the post-election and the political and economic approach of the Government, have been pressing for their own “compromise”. Rule out the Green movement’s challenge, even put it to the judicial sword if protests continue, but also acknowledge some errors in the detentions, the mass trials, the unwillingness to accept any mistakes were made after 12 June.

My initial reading was that this move within the establishment — seen in the letter of Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei, the proposals of MP Ali Motahari, the calls of clerics like Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi and possibly Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli, and possibly even in the general statements of Hashemi Rafsanjani — was a threat to Mousavi, undermining his 5-point proposal and forcing him into either capitulation or ostracism with the Green Wave.

The EA reader’s comment turns that reading around: it is Mousavi who puts pressure on a regime which is far more than the Supreme Leader and the President, exposing and widening its own fissures which persist and possibly mean more, amidst the erosion of its authority, than the supposed strength of its security forces and its punishments.
 Those fissures seem to flicker across the dull surface of PressTV's print briefs.

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