Seeing Iran Plain

Then there is the raging debate over the future of the Free University, which produced the amazing spectacle last week of the siege of Parliament by the fanatical Basiji, who at one point called for cannons to be trained on recalcitrant deputies. And what was the cause of this amazing confrontation? Listen to RFE /RL :

At the center of the tug-of-war is Azad University: its leadership, board, 1.4 million students, and tens of billions of dollars in assets.

On one side are hard-liners within the Iranian establishment, most prominently President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who appears ready to punish Azad University for its alleged support for opposition candidates in the 2009 presidential election. Supporting Ahmadinejad is the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution (SCCR), whose resolution to alter the Azad University's charter, replace its current head of Azad University, and change its governing board was recently approved by the president.

On the other side are the conservatives within the same establishment, mainly former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who co-founded the university in 1982 and now heads its board of trustees. Also supporting the conservatives are parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, and Abdollah Jasbi, the university head who is up for replacement and is a close Rafsanjani ally.

Let me deconstruct this for you.  It's mostly about money, and powerful men like Larijani and Rafsanjani are trying to prevent Ahmadinejad from getting his hands on it.  The headline is perfect:  "Battle over Azad University Deepens Iran's Divisions."  Those divisions are internal ones, not part of the life and death battle between the regime and the Green Movement.

On the latter front, there have been numerous physical assaults on sites -- including mosques -- linked to dissident ayatollahs, especially the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri and his likely spiritual heir, Ayatollah Sane'i.  This prompted a condemnation from the Iranian representative of Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Sistani, an event of considerable import, since Sistani is the most authoritative clerical figure in the Shi'ite world today.  Those who think that the Greens have no religious support should take notice.

Nor are things more favorable to the regime on the "secular" front. In the city of Rasht last Thursday, the morality cops tried to detain a mother and daughter, but the mother challenged the police.  Predictably, the cops started beating the woman with batons.  Whereupon, the people on the street rallied to the women, started chanting “Dictator, dictator” (the Greens’ anti-Khamenei slogan), and the police sped off.  Banafsheh has the video, along with another spectacular video of a disastrous fire at the oil field in Naft-Shahr, which started with an explosion a full month ago and is still burning with great intensity, as you can see. (scroll down a bit).  I can promise you that the explosion was no accident.

Finally,  the Greens are becoming more outspoken about the future of the country, including the fate of their oppressors.  Mousavi laid it out in mid-June:

[The Green Movement supports] freedom for all political prisoners as well as the abolishment of [all] illegal restrictions [and opposes] the security-oriented approach to the activities of political parties, social groups and movements such as the women’s movement, the student movement, labor unions, and the like. To this end, the following strategies should be followed diligently: [ensuring] fair trials for those who authorized as well as those who actually carried out the election fraud and the killing and torture of protesters, as well as exposing and trying those who have theorized and defended violence at various levels of the power hierarchy.

This is a quietly confident voice, and it is heard in the palaces of the rulers.  One day, they will remember those words.  When they are held accountable for their crimes.

Do not believe that the opposition has given up simply because they choose not to take to the streets against armed thugs.  There are many forms of democratic revolution.

Of which more shortly.