In the Arena

Iran Update

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The next big event in the saga of the Green Revolution and the Purloined Election will occur on Friday when Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani delivers the sermon at Friday Prayers. Rafsanjani is, among other things, the most prominent Mousavi supporter roaming the Iranian landscape at present, still chair of the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts (although those posts may not mean very much these days), still accused of corruption by Ahmadinejad–and yet, still able to speak at Friday prayers, which must mean something…but what?

There’s lots of speculation about what Rafsanjani might say. One Iranian friend said, “It’s the speech of his life, a chance to redeem his career. He must call for the rejection of the election results.” Unfortunately, that’s never been Rafsanjani’s style and is an unlikely alternative now. But he and his family are also too closely identified with the protest movement for him to just acquiese and kowtow to the Revolutionary Guard Corps-dominated government. Another Iranian friend predicts, “He’ll announce the formation of a political front that will work within the system but oppose the Ahmadinejad government.” That seems more plausible.

If such a front does form, he could be a broad one–stretching from pure reformers like the Khatami brothers, to more traditional moderates like Mir-Hossein Mousavi (and Rafsanjani himself), to some of the so-called principalist conservatives who abhor Ahmadinejad’s confrontational style and populist economics. According to the New York Times today:

On Tuesday, Resalat, a conservative newspaper that supports Mr. Ahmadinejad, published an editorial warning the president that intellectuals and much of the political elite lacked confidence in him. The editorial urged him to avoid hasty decisions and to include opposition politicians in his cabinet.

Any sort of optimism based on these straws in the wind would be foolish. But it does seem that the dust is still settling in Iran, the possibility of  dissent still exists–although the probability of the dissenters having  much impact  seems  to be in the nil to  microscopic  zone.