Kiss the Ring

Story Stream
recent articles

The Times reports:

The moderate Iranian leader who says that he was robbed of victory in last week’s presidential election faces a fateful choice today: support the regime or be cast out.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has told Mir Hossein Mousavi to stand beside him as he uses Friday prayers at Tehran University to call for national unity. An army of Basiji — Islamic volunteer militiamen — is also expected to be bussed in to support the Supreme Leader.

The demand was made at a meeting this week with representatives of all three candidates who claim that the poll was rigged, and it puts Mr Mousavi on the spot. He has become the figurehead of a popular movement that is mounting huge demonstrations daily against the “theft” of last Friday’s election by President Ahmadinejad, the ayatollah’s protégé.

So it appears to be, as Jesse Jackson once put it, "choice time" for Mir Hossein Mousavi. Needless to say, if he obeys his Supreme Leader, he will dash and deflate the hopes of the many thousands of Iranians who took to the streets of Tehran and elsewhere this week on his behalf.

Deny Khamenei, and Mousavi challenges the very legitimacy of the Supreme Leader. Now, sitting presidents, such as Mohammad Khatami, have challenged Khamenei in the past. But this is very different. It's being reported on Twitter that both Mousavi and Karroubi are asking their followers to skip Khamenei's Friday prayer session. Tony Karon has heard mixed reports. We obviously cannot confirm either way at the moment, but if true, this is a big deal. As Karon points out, if Mousavi refuses to yield he will no doubt be accused of treasonous activity, and the leash could come off of the IRGC.

Friday will be interesting.

UPDATE: So what now? The Ayatollah Speaks:

"Arm wrestling in the street must stop," he said. "I want everyone to put an end to this. If they don't stop this … they will be held accountable for all of this."

He insisted that it was "natural" for people to support different candidates but that the foreign media was responsible for portraying supporters of Mousavi as opposed to the Islamic revolution.

"Enemies try through various media, and some of these media belong to the Zionists … they try to make believe that there is a fight between supporters of the opposition and the Islamic establishment," said Khamenei. "They have no right to say that, that is not true."

He described the 85% turnout at the election as a "great accomplishment" and a "political earthquake" for Iran's enemies. The supreme leader said he was bringing a message for "leaders of world arrogance, the western countries".

"This is not a competition between outside and inside the establishment as Zionists, media in the UK, in the US, have been trying to say," he said. The US and Israel routinely come under fire in the supreme leader's sermons but Khamenei singled out the UK as the "most treacherous", prompting chants of "death to the UK" from the crowds.

The message is pretty clear: You're either with the Islamic Republic, or you're with the Zionists and the West.

So what happens now? Mousavi apparently skipped the event. Will he continue to march and encourage public dissent in direct defiance of Khamenei? Do Khamenei's kid gloves now come off?

Show commentsHide Comments

Related Articles