Iranian Revolutionary Guard take command

The last shreds of the illusion of due process in Iran have fallen away as the regime makes its dictatorship explicit.  The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps announced today that they have taken control of all state security functions, and demanded an end to all debate over the presidential election.  The IRGC claims that this clairifies the regime’s “value positions,” which certainly seems apparent:

The top leaders of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard publicly acknowledged they had taken over the nation’s security and warned late Sunday that there was no middle ground in the ongoing dispute over the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a threat against a reformist wave led by Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the elite military branch, said the Guard’s takeover of the country had led to “a revival of the revolution and clarification of the value positions of the establishment at home and abroad.” …

Jafari’s comments came the closest yet to publicly acknowledging what government supporters describe as a heroic intervention by the Revolutionary Guard and critics decry as a palace “coup d’etat” instigated by military elites loyal to Khamenei.

But instead of bowing to such pressure, opposition figures and protesters are preparing for massive nationwide rallies called for Thursday, the 10th anniversary of a 1999 attack by pro-government militiamen on the dormitories of Tehran University that led to weeks of political unrest.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, they won’t be alone, either.  The Muslim scholars from which Ali Khamenei and the Guardian Council draw their religious legitimacy have called the election “illegitimate” over the weekend.  That puts the IRGC on a collision course with the Qum masters and a religious scholarship set up my Ruhollah Khomeini himself.

If the Qum community backs the protests on Thursday, that could lead to an irreparable split between Khamenei and his religious allies.  It would force Khamenei to put aside his claims of divine authority and rule as a military dictator, backed by the muscular IRGC.  That may work in the short term, but the dissatisfaction seen in Iran originally took place in the context of a theocracy of a sect common to most Iranians.  A military dictatorship would throw those values out the window, and will prompt even more momentum for change.

The IRGC wants to double down on that bet:

“Today, no one is impartial,” Gen. Yadollah Javani said at the Sunday press conference, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. “There are two currents — those who defend and support the revolution and the establishment, and those who are trying to topple it.”

That is the final desperate diktat of tyrants, making all opposition treason.  If the Iranian people go into the streets this week, the mullahs will have to choose between retreating from that challenge or attempting to enforce it — and either will further undermine the legitimacy of their rule.  (via Saus and Memeorandum)