Monday, July 6, 2009

Iran's Turmoil Continues

The Los Angeles Times reports today that
The top leaders of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard publicly acknowledged they had taken over the nation's security and warned late Sunday that there was no middle ground in the ongoing dispute over the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a threat against a reformist wave led by Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
This represents a significant, public change in Iranian political order. The Revolutionary Guard is mentioned so frequently that it can be tempting to forget that it is a slightly smaller, separate force from that of the Iranian Armed Forces. The IRGC, formed in the wake of the Imposed War, is generally thought to be more ideologically driven than Iran’s Armed Forces. That said, while it appears that the IRGC is a relatively autonomous actor within Iran, it is far from clear that the IRGC is monolithic.

General Jafari’s comments, as reported in the LA Times, make clear that the dispute between the Khamenei regime and the Opposition continues to be a battle over legitimacy and rightful claim to the mantle of the Revolution:
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the elite military branch, said the Guard's takeover of the country had led to "a revival of the revolution and clarification of the value positions of the establishment at home and abroad.”
The IRGC’s public claim of responsibility for the security of the Islamic Republic may indicate the evolution of the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad coup to the stage of power consolidation. This development, along with the restoration of SMS service in Tehran last week, would seem to indicate that the regime believes that its crackdown has taken a toll on the opposition and that it has established a modicum of control over the situation. That said, Mousavi’s call for a national strike and the statement from the Researchers and Teachers of Qom on Saturday, suggest that the Opposition lives.

While the relative quiet in Tehran might mean that Khamenei-Ahmadinejad are correct in their assessment, their clear failure to properly read the balance of forces before launching their June 12 coup councils against using their actions as indicators of the facts on the ground in Iran.

UPDATE: NIAC reports, SMS service has been disabled in Tehran again.

UPDATE II: Reza Aslan says the strike is on.

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