Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iran coverage, June 16

From Laura Secor at the New Yorker (excerpt):

What are Khamenei’s options? With protesters yelling “Down with the dictator” in the streets of nearly every city in Iran, his position could not be more precarious. He has staked his very legitimacy, and perhaps that of the edifice he sits atop, on forcing Iranians to accept Ahmadinejad’s supposed landslide victory. He can continue to try to force that down their throats with a show of raw power, or he can bend, which would show the opposition that he and the system are not really so powerful after all, that they are vulnerable to pressure from below. If he takes the latter road, it would be a radical departure from his style of governance up until now. This is the regime that violently quelled protest movements in 1999 and in 2002, crushed the hopes of reformers under Mohammad Khatami from 1997 through 2005, and apparently could not tolerate even the possibility of a Mousavi Presidency. But if he chooses the path of violence, he will transform his country into a crude and seething autocracy.

This is uncharted territory for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Until now, the regime has survived through a combination of repression and flexibility. The dispersal of power throughout a complex system, among rival political factions, and with the limited but active participation of the voting public, has allowed a basically unpopular regime to control a large population with only limited and targeted violence. There have always been loopholes and pressure points that allow the opposition and the regime to be dance partners, even if one or both of them is secretly brandishing a knife behind the other’s back. That has been less true under Ahmadinejad than in the past. But the culture of the organized opposition under the Islamic Republic has tended to remain cautious and moderate. Many of the protesters of recent days are not calling for an end to the Islamic Republic. They are calling for their votes to be counted. More nights like last night, however, when some seven protesters were allegedly shot, could swiftly change that.

So is there any way Khamenei can dial the situation back even to the unhappy modus vivendi of June 11th?...
Iason Athanasiadis and Saeed Kamali Dehghan at the Guardian, article entitled At opposite ends of Tehran's great avenue, the two Irans gathered:

"What you're seeing is the result of 30 years of pressure and strangling," said Hossein Rahmati, a 68-year-old carpet seller wearing an old-fashioned 1980s suit to attend the march. "Iran is like a dam about to burst."

Standing in the cool of a Tehran ­afternoon, his rimmed glasses held on by a cord, Rahmati was surrounded by crowds, some dressed in the green of Mir Hossein Mousavi's street revolution, ­others in black with scarves over their faces and mobile phones in hand to capture the occasion.

Across the capital, a few miles to the south, it was a different rallying cry. Batol Mojahedi, 55, a housewife, stood with one hand holding her black hijab, the other a poster of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "My son was martyred in the Iran-Iraq war. I don't want to lose our Islam. We did not participate in 1979, in the revolution, to have this kind of freedom that Mousavi supporters claim they want.

"We don't want the freedom they want. Ahmadinejad is a courageous president. There was not any rigging in Friday's election. What's happening now is just [being influenced] by foreigners."

Tehran was a city literally divided yesterday as rival rallies for incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his defeated centrist challenger Mousavi took over either end of Vali Asr Avenue, the city's north-south spine. In a study in opposites, some districts appeared deserted while traffic was gridlocked elsewhere. The words from both camps were equally stark, each seeing the other as the cause of the greatest tension the Islamic republic has witnessed in 30 years.

Labels: , , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home