Iranian mullahs: We'll assume protests will be violent from now on

After completing its recount and declaring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad its winner, again, the ruling mullahs had a piece of advice for Iranians protesting in the street.  Any further disturbances would prove the violent nature of the protesters, and the regime will act accordingly:

A senior hardline Iranian cleric Tuesday demanded an end to protests over the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president after Iran’s top legislative body slammed shut the last door for a legal challenge. …

“The Guardian Council is the only legal reference in the election and therefore it seems the issue of protests against the presidential election is over,” said Ahmad Khatami, a cleric who called Friday for leading “rioters” to be executed.

“All who believe in the Islamic system and are committed to its laws and regulations must accept the Guardian Council’s opinion,” he said, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

“If some people still oppose the Guardian Council’s decision it means opposing the law and it shows that these people do not want to move forward within legal channels and they would like to achieve their aims by force,” Khatami said.

If the protesters are the ones who are violent, then why are the protesters taking all the casualties?  The show of force on the streets came from the regime’s brownshirts, the Basij, a million-strong group of irregulars who act at the behest of the Guardian Council.  They went into the streets, beating people for just gathering in groups as a means of terrorizing Iranians into silence.

Mirhossein Mousavi has to decide whether he wants to keep leading this movement.  After the Guardian Council shocked the world by reaffirming the previously designated “divine” result of Ahmadinehad’s win, Mousavi repeated his demand that the election be nullified and a new election conducted.  However, he’s out of options in working with the ruling class in Iran.  There are no more legal appeals within the regime to force reconsideration of the results.  On the other hand, Mousavi has probably burned all his bridges with the mullahs now.  He’s a man with few options and a dim future as long as the current Guardian Council runs Iran.

Mousavi claims that he has evolved from Che Guevara to Mohandas Gandhi, but we will see shortly whether he has Gandhi’s perserverance.  Organizers of the protests threatened to call general strikes to pressure the regime to change.  That may be their best option in order to avoid the brutality of the Basij and the Revolutionary Guard, but still demonstrate that the mullahs have lost any legitimacy with the people they rule.