Iran: Hardliners losing nerve, preparing for desperate gambit - source
|Publication Date||18 June 2009|
|Cite as||EurasiaNet, Iran: Hardliners losing nerve, preparing for desperate gambit - source, 18 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a532cc0c.html [accessed 25 May 2016]|
Hardliners in Iran are preparing to make a desperate bid to preserve their power in the face of burgeoning public opposition. A source within Iran's law enforcement agency revealed late on June 18 that backers of presumptive president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will try to deploy special Revolutionary Guard units to confront protesters in Tehran.
In addition, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is due to be the Friday prayer leader on June 19. In recent days, Ayatollah Khamenei, a strong supporter of Ahmadinejad's rigged re-election, has sounded conciliatory notes in trying to quell daily mass protests. However, having seen offers of partial compromises, such as a limited vote recount, fail to sway public opinion, and with the clerical establishment increasingly arrayed against him, the Supreme Leader is reportedly ready to issue an ultimatum to protesters in Tehran and elsewhere in the country: cease and desist, or face the consequences.
Rumors swept Tehran on June 18 that some Revolutionary Guard commanders had been arrested. Such information was impossible to independently verify. However, if true, the arrests could indicate that protest sympathizers within the Revolutionary Guards had been removed, thus clearing the way for the entry of the elite force into the political struggle.
If protesters continue to take to the streets in defiance of Ayatollah Khamenei's expected ultimatum, elite Revolutionary Guard units will presumably be authorized to use deadly force to disperse the crowds.
A willingness to use massive force carries significant risks for hardliners, given the fact that a portion of the country's religious and military apparatus has expressed support for the protesters. A decision to settle the election with force could thus have unpredictable consequences for Iran. There is no guarantee that elements arrayed against the hardliners will not fire back, if fired upon. Likewise, if the force used by hardliners proves insufficient to break the will of their opponents, then the Islamic Republic could be swept away with startling speed, and Iran plunged into an extended period of uncertainty as a new order takes shape.
If Revolutionary Guards do not appear on the streets of Tehran soon, or if Ayatollah Khamenei backs away from direct confrontation in his Friday prayer comments, the countdown would appear to be on for Ahmadinejad's departure from power.