It's now 4:00 pm in Iran. There are conflicting reports over whether or not the day's anticipated rallies will go on as scheduled. The Iranian government is reporting that the Combatant Clerics Assembly - affiliated with former President Mohammad Khatami - has canceled its rally for this afternoon.
The Guardian Council has apparently agreed today to recount a "random 10 percent of the votes" from last week's elections. So clearly, as most assumed, the Council's conciliatory gesture to Mousavi/Karroubi/Rezaee was simply a way for the government to stall for time and come up with a plan. So what's the plan?
Many are fearing massive state crackdowns today, as both the Basij and the IRGC are expected to be present at today's rallies in Tehran. Twitter is abuzz with unconfirmed speculation and hearsay, however, messages on the Facebook pages of both Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard seem to confirm that the rallies remain on as planned.
We'll keep you updated.
UPDATE: Rumors that Mousavi is walking from his party office to the Ministry of Interior with a crowd behind him.
I'm not very comfortable with republishing 'tweets', you can go elsewhere for that, but I thought this one was on point: "Khameni must realize that if he starts killing people the rallies will get bigger. #IranElection #gr88 #iran09."
Indeed. Let's hope that the Supreme Leader has reached the same logical conclusion.
UPDATE II: AP is reporting that there are firetrucks surrounding Revolution Square. According to Al Jazeera, Iran's deputy national police commander issued a warning today. "As of today, the police will strongly confront any illegal gatherings and those without permission," said Ahmadreza Radan.
Also from Pitney, an e-mailer writes: "HARD conflict between the people and the Special Guard. people: down with khamenee"
UPDATE III: It sounds as though the riot police are going for thuggish-lite today. SOP: Disperse the crowds, keep them moving, isolate them, and then target them, if necessary. Sounds like there are small demonstrations around the city, but nothing has been confirmed.
UPDATE IV: State-controlled Press TV WAS reporting that two have been hurt in a "blast" at the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but the story is either down or has been pulled (h/t The Lede)
Tweet: "Bomb blast will clear way gov to prosecute Mousavi/Rafsanjani as traitors to Revolution #iranelection."
UPDATE V: 3,000 incredibly brave people. They have my praise, but it sounds as though this may have been quelled. Where is Mousavi? Karroubi? (h/t The Lede)
UPDATE VI: Ratio of security forces-to-protesters doesn't sound good. (h/t Al Jazeera)
Al Jazeera is also reporting the explosion near Khomeini's shrine as a "suicide blast."
UPDATE VII: I think it's wonderful that Mohsen Makhmalbaf speaks "for Mousavi. And Iran," but where exactly is Mr. Mousavi?
Allegedly a scene from Tehran this afternoon:
A Tweet: "RT from Iran:: Critical question now, where are Mousavi, Karoubi and Khatami? #iranelection #Tehran #GR88 #Mousavi"
UPDATE X: Seems the validity of this alleged 'suicide blast' is now in question.
Sounds as though the regime is laying the foundation for a tougher crackdown:
The police have attempt to portray the protesters as rioters by detailing the damage they have caused, and claimed public backing for a violent crackdown.
Iran's deputy police commander, Ahmad-Reza Radan, said 400 police have been wounded since last Friday's vote.
He claimed 10,000 complaints have been been made, according to state-run Press TV. "They have called on the police to deal with rallies firmly," he said.
"The recent rallies destroyed 700 buildings, burst 300 banks into flame, damaged 300 cars and 300 public properties," Radan added.
UPDATE XII: Rumors floating around that Mousavi is speaking somewhere in Tehran, on the streets. Cannot confirm or deny just yet.
UPDATE XIV: Brian Ulrich notes:
If Larijani and Tavakkoli aren't just working for their own advantage, it seems likely that they were acting in support of Khamene'i's efforts to reposition himself above the fray, move Ahmadinejad off center stage, and make the battle about the system of government rather than the election.
This sounds about right, and it's good strategy. As I've noted on The Compass, calling for Ahmadinejad's head is one thing; questioning the legitimacy of the Supreme Leader is something else entirely. This dynamic suits Khamenei better, as it's a battle Mousavi probably won't win.
UPDATE XV: Rough translation of Mousavi's letter to the Guardian Council.
There is a list of embassies in Tehran floating around, as injured protesters are being encouraged to go to them instead of hospitals. The hospitals are very like stocked full of Basijis.
Question: If the embassies become overwhelmed, what happens then?
In 1906, over 10,000 Persian constitutionalists occupied the British embassy in protest of the Qajaris (this was pre-UK hatred, obviously. The Russians were mostly the villains at that time). UK embassy is now rumored to be accepting the injured.
It always seems to come back to the British in Iran.
UPDATE XVII: Mousavi allegedly "washed in readiness to be martyred." (h/t Pitney)
Jeff Weintraub answers the question in my blog title:
The Tienanmen moment? Yes and no. Yes, it looks as though the Iranian regime has decided that the moment has come to crush the protests by force. But in 1989 the Chinese regime seems to have wanted to have a concentrated, visible bloodbath in Tienanmen Square itself (to send a clear message). In this crackdown, the Iranian regime seems to be trying to avoid that.
UPDATE XIX: In a way, I fear what happened today may be the worst possible outcome. The Iranian government's brutality has been put on display, but that's in part due to the lower-than-anticipated turnout in Tehran (judging from secondhand info, sitting at a disadvantage in the United States). Had the crowd been larger, I suspect anyway, that it would have tied the hands of the regime. You can't shoot at 100,000+ people and expect to get away with it. You can, however, isolate and scatter a few thousand people. These are very brave Iranians, and I shudder to think what might happen to them after today.
That's it from me, for now. Will be back later with more updates and more thoughts.
UPDATE XX: OK, one more item. The Lede appears to have confirmed that a brutal video of a gunned down woman posted on Facebook is indeed legit. This is appalling and wicked. [CORRECTION: NYT still hasn't verified this video. Please click over at your own risk, as it is terribly violent. I will confirm or deny its veracity when I know for sure.]
What was it that President Ahmadinejad once called the government in Jerusalem? A "rotting, stinking corpse," I believe? I can then only imagine what that makes this cabal in Tehran.