If the Iranian mullahs expected the outrage over the rigged presidential election to dissipate, the latest from Mirhossein Mousavi will disappoint the hardliners. The man who claims he was robbed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei promises to continue the public protests that have made the regime more reliant than ever on its military forces to maintain political power. At the same time, they have even more problems with the man for whom they rigged the election in the first place:
Iran’s opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi said on Monday the pro-reform protests which erupted after the country’s disputed June presidential vote will continue, his website reported.
“The pro-reform path will continue,” Mousavi said in a statement. “The establishment should respect the constitution and let us to gather to commemorate our killed loved ones on Thursday.”
Moderate defeated candidates Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi on Sunday called on the authorities to permit a gathering on Thursday at Tehran’s “Grand Mosala,” a prayer location where tens of thousands can gather, to commemorate unrest victims.
The mullahs will not be likely to grant that request, for the same reason that Beijing ensures that no one commemorates the Tiananmen Massacre. Such demonstrations lead to momentum for reform or even revolution, and the best way to avoid that is to keep people from congregating at all. Expect to see a big security presence on Thursday — and a big clash with protesters at the same time.
That’s not the only headache in Tehran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has prompted even more protests by sacking two ministers, favorites of Iran’s parliament — and of Khamenei:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired his intelligence minister and his culture minister resigned under pressure Sunday as further rifts emerged in his camp with just days to go until his controversial inauguration for a second term.
Although Ahmadinejad has frequently replaced his cabinet members over the past four years, Sunday’s firing and resignation were significant because both Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei and Culture Minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi are especially close to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, analysts say.
“All ministers are close to him,” said Amir Mohebbian, a political analyst who shares Ahmadinejad’s ideology but has been critical of his actions. “But these two are closer to the leader.”
After taking the country to the brink of revolution by rigging an election for Ahmadinejad, Khamenei gets paid back by having the ingrate attempt his own power play. Keep an eye on this rift. Note, too, that Ahmadinejad’s inauguration comes the day after the Mousavi protests. This could be a very interesting week in Iran.