Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hopeful developments in Iran

As Khamenei and Ahmadinejad continue to arrest and torture protesters and ramp up threats against Mousavi, Karroubi and their supporters, two more hopeful signs arise of resistance within Iran's ruling elite:

1) A group of top-tier religious leaders has ramped up its opposition to the official election results and the crackdown, the NYT reports:
The most 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, if so far symbolic, 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 — if not impossible...

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.”

2) Rafsanji, still cryptic, appears to point toward some solution other than acquiescence to the official election results. CNN:

"People from across the country participated in the elections, with excitement," ILNA quoted Rafsanjani as saying in Saturday's story. "But unfortunately the events that occurred after that and the difficulties created for some left a bitter taste, and I don't think that any wakened consciousness would be satisfied with the resulting situation."

He referred to the recent expressions of opinions across the country regarding the election crisis as a reflection of a power struggle "at the highest levels of the system."

"I hope that with proper management and fortitude, in the next few days, we can be witnesses to the betterment of the situation, resolution of the difficulties and the decrease in the number of the families waiting for their loved ones," Rafsanjani said. "We must think about safeguarding the long term interests and benefits of the system."

Everything Rafsanjani has said publicly since the election can be read two ways, e.g., his call on Mousavi et al to work through legal channels (June 27) and his dubbing the election aftermath “a tangled mess, perpetrated by suspicious sources whose objectives are to create differences and separations between the people and the system and eroding the trust of the people in the Islamic system" (June 29).

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