So Now It's Saturday in Iran
And Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has banned the big demonstration called for 4 PM in Tehran. If you follow Andrew Sullivan's blog--and you should, if you're interested in what's happening in Iran, and also in what's happening in the ranks of the American Left--you will see that many Iranians fear that Saturday is slated to be a day of bloodshed.
Khamenei did not budge at all. No concessions. The elections are legitimate, the results are final. Moreover, he said, the battle is not between "the people" and "the regime," it's between four leaders who all believe in the regime. The people voted, we counted their votes, and that's that. If anyone protests after my sermon, he said, whatever violence ensues is on them.
Which sounds like a promise of violence. As I said earlier, tens of thousands of Revolutionary Guards have been brought to Tehran to put down the demonstrations. These are older, well-trained and presumably loyal soldiers who will not shrink from attacking the crowds. So some of the Iranians on Twitter have written messages that sound like "final thoughts," not knowing if they will survive Saturday.
This is all the regime has left, because the demonstrations have revealed its hollowness, and the nightly chants of "God is great" from the rooftops of all major cities in Iran have exposed the collapse of its central doctrine: that the theocratic fascist system is blessed by Allah. Millions of Iranians are openly rejecting that.
Khamenei recognizes this, which is why he has committed his own power to the defeat of Mousavi's movement. This confirms what I have been arguing, namely that, however Mousavi started, he now leads a revolutionary mass movement that is aimed at the dark heart of the corrupt theocratic fascist state. When Mousavi asked the huge crowd on Thursday "where are our $300 billion?" he and everyone else knew that was a threat to bring the ruling mullahs to justice, to prosecute them for their thievery.
That led to one of the interesting sub-plots in the Khamenei speech: the kind words for former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is widely believed to have enriched himself more than any other of the ruling elite. I think Khamenei was telling Rafsanjani to stick with the system, and not (as has been widely rumored) join the revolution. What will Rafsanjani do? The "big story" of recent days was that he had gone to the holy city of Qom to get an endorsement for Mousavi from the senior Ayatollahs. So far as I know, no such endorsement was issued. Does this mean that Rafsanjani betrayed Mousavi? Or simply that the clerics decided to stick with Khamenei? Perhaps we will know the answer some day.
Meanwhile, there were cracks in the regime's instruments of repression, and reports of action against the Basij thugs in the night time streets of Tehran. The latter was picked up by the daily blog at the Guardian, in a post on "Basij hunting" by young activists. The former came from a group of Revolutionary Guards on their own blog (all of the following was translated by Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi). At the top of the blog, we read a detailed condemnation of IRGC actions in past years, which is described as a betrayal of their values:
This weblog is for all the guards who have stepped in the direction of lovingly serving the people, our nation and Islam but were killed by the deceit of the cowardly or were led astray. This weblog is for all those guards who still stay steadfast to that form and yet with betrayed hearts and as a result of desperation were witness to the plundering of people's belongings, were witness to the smuggling of arms and drugs, were witness to the gangs of corrupt guards who did sex-trafficking and sold innocent Iranian girls to the Persian Gulf countries, and....