Small protest turnout outside Iran’s parliament is violently dispersed
Seeking to revive his flagging protest movement, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi scheduled a demonstration for Wednesday afternoon, June 24, outside the Iranian parliament building on Baharestan Square. According to eye witnesses, several hundred demonstrators turned up and were brutally dispersed by Iranian security forces and arrests made. Some said they opened fire on the crowd and one young woman was injured.
debkafile‘s Iranian sources report that after Tuesday went by without street demonstrations for fear of the brutal Basijj, or even God is Great! shouts from the rooftops, Mousavi tired to breathe new life into the protest movement, drawing from the strongest condemnation of the regime’s repressive methods heard so far from US president Barack Obama, especially his comment ” …those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.”
But those words came only on Day 11 of the protests against a forged election – too late by 72 hours for the men and women whose bravery he commended. By then, the Islamic government had already seized the momentum, ruling out a new poll and fixing a timeline for the swearing-in of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president for a second term.
Furthermore, although the US president placed Ahmadinejad and his powerful camp – led by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and backed by the Revolutionary Guards, the Basijj and the clerical hierarchy – on the wrong side of history, he nevertheless did not rule out his promised dialogue with Tehran.
But while Obama appears willing to go through with his commitment to test the negotiating track on Iran’s nuclear program during the months remaining until the end of this year, he faces an unforeseen difficulty: Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, who have established their authority against the dissidents, are expected to punish the US president for his condemnation and play hard to get.
This expectation shed light on the White House’s abrupt decision Wednesday to send a US ambassador back to Damascus, four years after US-Syrian relations were ruptured over the assassination of the Lebanese politician Rafiq Hariri in Beirut. This step will speed up the US reconciliation with Syria and is meant as an olive branch for Tehran’s closest ally and has been fulsome in its championship of Iran’s Islamic regime against the opposition.
Mousavi’s movement started running out of steam when Ali Khamenei’s powerful threat to opposition leaders staging ‘street riots” went unchallenged, leaving them without support.
The odds against them are formidable. Since then, the regime’s bully-boys have demonstrated that they, not the protesters, control the streets. Iranian intelligence computer experts have been able to pre-edit and distort messages from their leaders, so generating confusion in the ranks over scheduled events and the sources of directives. Young dissidents have been arrested and their “confessions” aired.
The dissidents’ attempt to make the young student Neda, who was shot dead by a mounted Basijj thug, an icon of the uprising gained more traction overseas than inside Iran. Footage of how 10 students were murdered in a raid of Tehran University’s dormitories, with their names and photos, would have been more effective. But these victims remain unnamed.
A sensitive date still to come is July 8, the 10th anniversary of the Tehran university student uprising. Opposition leaders are preparing to make their voice heard on that day, but the regime will certainly make sure that it is not.