Mullahs in Qum: Khamenei’s actions illegitimate

posted at 10:15 am on July 5, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

If Ali Khamenei and the Guardian Council had hoped to ride out the anger over the rigged presidential election, they didn’t figure on Qum.  The association of Islamic leaders in the most important religious city in Iran have declared the election illegitimate, which threatens to undermine the credibility of the Khamenei regime’s claim to divine direction.  If the clerics of Iran bolt, what does Khamenei have left?

The most important group of religious leaders in Iran called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate on Saturday, an act of defiance against the country’s supreme leader and the most public sign of a major split in the country’s clerical establishment.

A statement by the group, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, represents a significant, if so far symbolic, setback for the government and especially the authority of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose word is supposed to be final. The government has tried to paint the opposition and its top presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, as criminals and traitors, a strategy that now becomes more difficult — if not impossible.

“This crack in the clerical establishment, and the fact they are siding with the people and Moussavi, in my view is the most historic crack in the 30 years of the Islamic republic,” said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University. “Remember, they are going against an election verified and sanctified by Khamenei.”

This puts Khamenei in a corner.  He has repeatedly claimed that the election results were divinely authored, putting his religious credibility on the line to silence opposition.  Khamenei has, through surrogates, accused Mousavi and other protesters of being foreign agents, enemies of the Islamic Republic that he claims authority from Allah to run.  If the religious clerics that support that divine authority suddenly switch sides and accuse Khamenei and his Guardian Council of imposing illegitimate results on the nation, what does that do to his authority?

In fact, this is an escalation from Qum.  They had earlier asked the regime to nullify the results in order to restore order and give an opportunity for calm, but hadn’t given a judgment on the election itself. Their latest statement abandons any effort to calm the waters, which makes this step more ominous for Khamenei.  They have taken sides — and they have joined the opposition.

That gives other clerics an opportunity to go public with their own opposition to the regime.  Khamenei cannot keep using the “foreign agents” smear in order to discredit everyone.  If all of the clerics outside the GC and Khamenei assert that the Supreme Leader acts illegitimately, then the only thing left to Khamenei is force of arms.  That may be enough in the short run, but the writing on the wall for Khamenei and his regime has already appeared in Qum.

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Word has it Pelosi has advised Barry to wear a head scarf on the next Middle East visit.

Bulldogger on July 5, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Bulldogger on July 5, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Is he going to tuck it behind his jug ears, you know, like a pharoah?

Fortunata on July 5, 2009 at 5:27 PM

Anyone in the MSM notice that the world -as the U.S. encounters it- has gone into chaos since Barry was put in office by the sleepwalking suckers of an affirmative action presidency?

Iran, Honduras, North Korea, Pakistan, the economy, job losses, business stagnation, rammed-through crap bills like Cap and Trade (Thieve and Tax), etc., etc., etc.?

Nah… slandering Palin and boo-hoo-hooing about Michael Jackson’s cartoon death are so much more vital for the public interest.

profitsbeard on July 5, 2009 at 6:22 PM

The present squabbles undermine the Mullahs claim of divine inspiration and absolute authority. Some people have already abandoned belief in that claim; others may be tottering on the brink. And some will probably never abandon it.

That leaves their authority as the power-in-being behind the basiji, the police, and the armed forces. How far they can push that authority is unclear, and how soon cracks will appear because of the squabbles is also unclear, although such authority takes years or generations to crumble altogether.

njcommuter on July 5, 2009 at 6:47 PM

Anyone in the MSM notice that the world -as the U.S. encounters it- has gone into chaos since Barry was put in office by the sleepwalking suckers of an affirmative action presidency?

profitsbeard on July 5, 2009 at 6:22 PM

MSM? no…. Conservative America? YES!
….but what would we know, right? We are just dumb “tea-bagging rednecks!”


Vntnrse on July 5, 2009 at 6:50 PM

This also puts Obama on the wrong side of history, or using Ed’s terms — in the same corner with Iranian thugs.

LifeTrek on July 5, 2009 at 6:54 PM

The thing that is fascinating is that only the IRGC, Basij, Hezbollah, and any thugs for hire from central asia have been doing the repressing. The Iranian Army, itself, has sat this out… they exist to stop threats to the Nation… which they see as its people, not a current regime. It is the one piece of Iran that is not thoroughly unprofessional and beholden to the regime. Half-starved for equipment and training, yes. That said it is still effective at some operational scales.

Calling out the Army will get you 1917 in Russia where the army joined the population. Save I think the Iranian Army will not melt away but remain cohesive. It is the most representative body in Iran, at the moment, being conscript drawn from a population that has a majority under 30. Calling out the Iranian Army might be a strange form of seppuku for the regime… thus they are stuck with only partially reliable IRGC, wholly reliable barbarians in the Basij and as reliable as far as the money goes thugs.

Now if the Clerics join the people and the Army would if they were called out… ahhhh… the regime is ‘one deep’ and getting very old very quickly… hmmmmm… yes, seppuku it would be.

ajacksonian on July 5, 2009 at 8:41 PM

Oh man. I have hailed Allah’s mad skillz with the screen cap since the beginning. But very rarely does a photo make me laugh right out loud.

This one did. Too funny.

Jaibones on July 5, 2009 at 11:10 PM

I wrote recently on the lack of any public statement by the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) on the situation in Iran. To date, there is still no statement on the CAIR website. I did mention a brief statement by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which called on the Iran government on June 19, 2009 to release protesters, journalists and opposition leader Ebrahim Yazdi. (Yazdi was arrested in a hospital and subsequently returned to his hospital on June 22.) Since June 19, the same statement still appears on the ISNA website. Here it is:

ISNA Calls on the Iranian Government to Release Journalists and Human Rights Activists (Plainfield, IN – June 19, 2009)

“The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is troubled by the recent arrest of 500 journalists, political opposition leaders, and human rights activists, including Ebrahim Yazdi, the Secretary-General of the Freedom Movement of Iran. Dr. Yazdi was taken from his hospital bed in Tehran, where he was undergoing treatment for recurring cancer.

ISNA calls on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Dr. Yazdi and all political prisoners and to respect the civil rights of the members of the media and political activists. The government must respect the rights of all individuals to exercise their freedom of expression and peaceful protest, which Islamic values and traditions affirm, and which are guaranteed by the Iranian constitution.

Ebrahim Yazdi pursued his graduate work in the United States and later joined the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, with appointments in the Departments of Pathology and Pharmacology. He was a founding member of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) and the Islamic Medical Association of the United States and Canada (IMANA).

Dr. Yazdi served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in the interim government of Mehdi Bazargan in 1979. He opposed the hostile takeover of the US Embassy by Iranian students and resigned in protest when the Revolutionary Council endorsed the student takeover.”

Louay Safi, ILDC executive director
[email protected]

Maybe I’m just nitpicking here, but this seems to be pretty tepid and specifically concerned about one individual. Where are the follow-ups? Where is the outrage about those protesters shot down in the streets, like Neda Soltan? It would seem to me that additional statements would be forthcoming as the events have progressed since June 19. Or is this just a pro-forma “statement of concern” to be put on the record to show that they have “spoken out” against the government of Iran?

Pretty weak, if you ask me.

gary fouse on July 5, 2009 at 11:14 PM

I wonder if Khomeini is getting excited by all the growing chaos around him? He may think the 12th Imam is close and decide to fire all of his guns at once.

[email protected] on July 5, 2009 at 11:39 AM

You have no clout
You better not try
You better watch out, I’m telling you why.
Twelfth Imam is coming to town

A-Bomb is on list
I’ll use more than twice
Good Muslims who die
Will go to paradise
Twelfth Imam is coming to town

He knows if you’re a Christian
He knows if you’re a Jew
He knows if you’re an in-fi-del
He’s told me what to do

So….You have no clout
You better not try, I’m telling you why.
Twelfth Imam is coming to town
Twelfth Imam is coming to town

Aleph on July 5, 2009 at 11:19 PM

It is so hard from the outside to tell anything… but this sounds like the kind of reaction that will make a difference in the long run.

I guess you can’t expect too fast a pace from clerics who haven’t discovered pants yet for men or women. Change is slow.

petunia on July 6, 2009 at 1:44 AM

I guess you can’t expect too fast a pace from clerics who haven’t discovered pants yet for men or women. Change is slow.

petunia on July 6, 2009 at 1:44 AM

:-) Reminds me of a bit Seinfeld once did, or should’ve done:

“The one thing that impresses me the most about the clerics: they hung in there with the bathrobes. Now, they’ve seen the pant. We know they’ve seen pants. I mean, it’s not like their national sports team shows up to the Olympics or the World Cup dressed for a toga party. But, they’re hanging in there with the ‘robes…”

RD on July 6, 2009 at 2:41 PM