Exiled opposition groups, whose political agenda sharply differs from that of the protesters in Iran — indeed, many of these groups urged people not to vote in the elections — have sought to fill the vacuum left by a beheaded and directionless indigenous movement. Though the outrage of these exiled groups against the Iranian government’s brutal violence is genuine, their efforts to impose themselves on the political scene have caused great frustration among opposition elements inside Iran. At a time when the movement in Iran is paralyzed, efforts by exiled groups — groups that scorned the protesters only weeks ago for choosing to participate in the elections — to fill the leadership vacuum are viewed as nothing less than a maneuver to hijack the movement.
This is playing right into the hands of the Ahmadinejad government, precisely because it would weaken, if not eliminate, the indigenous movement’s trump card: its ability to attract the Iranian swing-voters back to its side. If the exiled opposition groups and their neo-conservative backers in the United States prevail in aiding the Ahmadinejad government, what started out as the largest Iranian mass movement since 1979 may end up as little more than the student demonstrations of 1999. Which is to say, an instance of hopes raised, then dashed. [continued…]
The government crackdown in Iran has moved so quickly and brutally the protests have been forced into near silence.
The Web site gooya.com reports that opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi is under house arrest, although that claim could not be verified.
The well-known Iranian filmmaker Moshen Makhmalbaf, who has become an unofficial spokesman for Mousavi outside of Iran, told ABC News that Mousavi is being highly controlled and is limited in whom he can meet with and where he can go.
On his Facebook page Mousavi, who analysts say is under intense pressure, posted a message in Farsi, English and French telling his followers: “All my communication with the people and you has been cut off, and people’s peaceful objections are being crushed.”
He also urged his supporters to protest using only “legal channels” and to remain “faithful to the sacred system of the Islamic Republic.” [continued…]
A middle-aged resident from Vanak neighborhood gave Human Rights Watch an overview of his participation each day in the protests. He explained that by June 22, virtually the only form of protest still available to him wasto shout slogans from his rooftop at night. But then the Basiji came to attackhis neighborhood.
“On June 22, while we were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ from the rooftops, the only form of protests we could still undertake, the Basiji entered our neighborhood and started firing live rounds into the air, in the direction of the buildings from which they believe the shouting of ‘Allahu Akbar’ is coming from. I didn’t see any rounds hitting our buildings. Shortly thereafter, my cousin arrived at our apartment. He was very shaken. The Basijis had entered their house in Yousef Abad neighborhood,and they had destroyed their doors and destroyed cars in the street.
“There are many things happening that aren’t being reported [in the media]. In every neighborhood of Tehran, people are talking about how the Basijis and other security services are coming into their houses and are terrorizing people for shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ from the rooftops, and for congregating.” [continued…]
Over the past two weeks, Marcelle George has watched with amazement as legions of Iranian women, most wearing black, full-length Islamic garments, defiantly protested Iran’s leadership.
Even in her native Egypt, where some opposition to the government is permitted, most women would never dare cross that line.
“To actually see Iranian women fight for their rights is inspiring,” said George, a college student in jeans and a long-sleeve blouse. “I never imagined that it could happen there.” [continued…]
The Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents, records and interviews show, continuing a program that became controversial when it was expanded by President Bush.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which reports to the secretary of state, has for the last year been soliciting applications for $20 million in grants to “promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Iran,” according to documents on the agency’s website. The final deadline for grant applications is June 30.
U.S. efforts to support Iranian opposition groups have been criticized in recent years as veiled attempts to promote “regime change,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian-American advocacy group. The grants enable Iran’s rulers to paint opponents as tools of the United States, he said. [continued…]
So, is all hell about to break loose in Iraq?
By June 30, all U.S. combat troops are scheduled—in fact, they’re required—to be withdrawn from all of Iraq’s cities, towns, and villages.
Many Americans and Iraqis fear that the progress achieved in the last couple of years—the dramatic reduction of violence and casualties, the growing sense of security in areas that were once soaking with dread and bloodshed—will be eroded and reversed, perhaps completely.
The rise in spectacular suicide bombings in the last few weeks—as U.S. soldiers have stepped up their retreat to large bases in the outskirts—is widely seen as the shape of things to come. [continued…]