James Forsyth

Iran, the protests continue

Iran, the protests continue
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The situation in Iran is continuing to develop, though with the crackdown on reporting from there—the BBC’s correspondent has just been told to leave—it is hard to know quite what is going on. The New York Times’ story, written by journalists outside the country but based on information from inside Iran, gives a good senses of where things are at. State TV is saying that 13 people died in Saturday’s clashes and that five members of Rafsanjani’s family have been arrested, he is thought to be leading efforts to replace the Supreme Leader. The NYT also reports that the demonstrators are considering switching tactics and calling for a general strike.

Over at the New Yorker, Laura Secor looks at what might be the key to how this all ends:

“The purpose of the Revolutionary Guard and Basij is the defense of the Islamic Revolution and the Supreme Leader. Rarely have the true believers in the militias been forced to consider the possibility that these two functions might come into conflict. Such a moment may have arrived. It is one thing to unleash brutal force on crowds that insult the Leader or Islam. That was how the members of the Revolutionary Guards and Basij could defend their assault on demonstrators at Tehran University in 1999. But now, in the name of Ahmadinejad’s controversial presidency, they are being asked to violently disperse fellow Iranians who are chanting religious slogans, carrying Korans, and calling for the lawful counting of their votes. Whether or not the rumors of splits at the top of the Revolutionary Guards’ hierarchy are true, the rank and file is not necessarily monolithic.”

What is certain is that the Supreme Leader’s call at Friday prayers for the protests to stop has not been heeded. We are now in a new, more uncertain phase. 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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