Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lines Harden

The New York Times reports today on the quiet conflict amongst Iran’s clergy over the uprising. This dynamic – of the clergy taking sides between Mousavi and Khamenei, the Opposition and the Regime – has been present since the immediate aftermath of the June 12 election. Recall, Ayatollah Khamenei described the election as divine, while Ayatollah Montazeri denigrated it. In the three and a half weeks since the stolen election, the line dividing Qom has become stark and more and more of the Mullahs have picked sides.

Amid the clergy dividing itself between the Regime and the Opposition, other players have likewise hardened their positions. On June 24, Mohsen Rezai, formerly a Major General in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp and candidate in the June 12 election, dropped his complaints of election irregularities and returned to the Regime’s fold. In the last week, there have been reports that the IRGC has assumed responsibility for Iran’s security which may suggest the Regime is attempting to consolidate its position. Over the weekend the Researchers and Teachers of Qom, an organization of clergy, decried the results of the election. Mousavi, Karroubi and former president Khatami have reportedly met to form a political front through which to coordinate further protest action – action which is to begin tomorrow with mass unrest and demonstrates commemorating the 10 year anniversary of the 18 Tir Massacre.

Now, the Guardian reports that Ayatollah Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei, has taken control of the Basiji, the paramilitary thugs nominally under the control of the IRGC and responsible for much of the violence during the crackdown. That Khamenei’s son is taking personal control over the Basiji should be viewed definitively as not just the regime, but the Khameneis as a dynastic force, consolidating its position. Nothing indicates fear for position as relying on your family members for control of the state’s levers of force; nor is anything so indicative of a willingness to use force.

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