Iran: Mousavi Remains Defiant; Journalists Held

Reuters reports that Iranian opposition leader Mir Hosain Mousavi is continuing to assert that the newly formed second-term government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is illegitimate. He called for a lifting of censorship and the release of the some one thousand Iranians arrested by security forces for participating in demonstrations against the allegedly stolen election. He was joined joined in this continued defiance of Supreme Leader Khamenei by his rival, Mehdi Karroubi and others in the reform camp. My guess is that they aren’t far from a jail cell.

The regime is already conducting Stalinist show-trials, as in the case of Maziar Bahari, who recently appeared with me on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS Sunday interview show. Please politely protest Mr. Bahari’s detention and the coerced ‘confession’ to Mohammad Khazaee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, email address: iran@un.int . While you are at it, demand the release of Greek journalist Iason Athanasiadis and the others listed by Amnesty International. If you can, it is best to write by land mail to: Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh, (Office of the Head of the Judiciary) Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave.,south of Serah-e Jomhouri,
Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran (Salutation: Your Excellency).

Another ayatollah, Jalaoddin Taheri, has issued a fatwa calling Ahmadinejad’s election illegitimate and fraudulent. In 2002, Taheri, long a critic of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, resigned after thirty years as Friday prayer leader of the major city of Isfahan (sort of like being archbishop of Boston). More significant senior ayatollahs, such as Yousuf Sanei, have also shown discomfort with the way the elections were conducted.

Ali Reza Eshraghi explains why most clerical authorities in Iran are afraid of rocking the boat to much, and have more or less acquiesced in Khamenei’s decision.

One fall-out of the widespread questioning of the probity of the election process is that Ahmadinejad has had to cancel a trip to Libya to appear at the conference of the African Union, since his being on the roster there had become controversial. Khamenei may win his battle to move the Iranian state further to the repressive Right for the moment, but it may well be a pyrrhic victory since it is likely to isolate Iran further from the international community and to set the stage for further unrest in the future.

Hard as it is to watch all this repression unfold, I agree with Eric Margolis that there is little the US can or should do at this point. Countries have their own developmental history, class structures, and political cultures, and foreign military or covert interventions on behalf of state-building and democratization have very seldom succeeded in modern history.(See Elizabeth Thompson’s new study on democratization in the Middle East for USIP– the pdf is here.) Not to mention that Bush-Cheney and the Neocons tied up the US military and intelligence apparatuses in another illegal war of aggression, which rather weakened US international legitimacy for such purposes. As with post-Tiananmen Square China, the US will just have to deal with the Iran that exists.

Here is the graphic novel of the past three weeks’ events in Iran, in the style of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (she is not involved in this production).

Aljazeera English reports from the streets of Tehran on the aftermath of the massive protests against the announced outcome of the June 12 presidential elections.

Iran experts Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Abbas Milani, and Karim Sadjadpour discuss the aftermath of the election and its implications for U.S. foreign policy in the region at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. David Ignatius moderated the discussion.

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