Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iran set for day of mourning after protest deaths

Important news from Reuters. And bear in mind that in a Shiite context such as this, a day of mourning is much more than bowing heads in prayer and being sad. Friday is going to be a politically and emotionally charged day to celebrate the new martyrs of what may a new phase of Iran's Islamic Revolution. How the regime responds is going to be crucial. How well the Mousavi faction can sustain the on-the-streets pressure and demonstrations will also be crucial. But more and more observers are now saying that something fundamental has changed inside Iran. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Guardian of the Islamic Republic, at this point is not in control of the situation. Moreover, his favored candidate, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, cannot seriously claim that he has an overwhelming popular mandate to lead the country.

As for the vote recount, Khamenei is trying to buy time by throwing the Mousavi supporters a very small bone. The recount is only partial, and it has been entrusted to a hard-line supporter of the regime. Unless a recount were to reverse the election (highly unlikely), it will have no credibility with the Mousavi people. And if the recount were to substantiate claims of voting fraud and imperil Ahmadinejad's "victory," let's not forget that he too has millions of supporters among the urban poor, as well as in rural towns and villages.

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