Iran’s political crisis intensified Wednesday when the nation’s main opposition figure announced that he would create a political organization to “lay the groundwork for a large-scale social movement” stemming from his disputed election loss to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Many supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi had feared the announcement would amount to a disavowal of the civil disobedience campaign that has sprung up since the June election in which the government has been accused of massive vote fraud. Instead, Mousavi explicitly praised the protest movement as a cornerstone for change in Iran.
In his most extensive remarks in weeks, Mousavi said that “power is always inclined to become absolute, and only people’s movements can put a hold on this inclination.” Several other opposition figures, emboldened by high-ranking clerics and unbowed by the severe government crackdown on protesters, have also issued challenges to the authority of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his ally Ahmadinejad. [continued…]
Street demonstrations erupted in Iran once again on July 21 as thousands of people gathered in small pockets around central Tehran on the anniversary of an uprising in 1952 in which government security forces refused to fire on the crowds. This time, the Basij militia and members of the élite Revolutionary Guards were less kind, chasing protesters with batons, firing tear gas to disperse the crowds and, according to reports, arresting dozens in the process. One source said that the underground Haft e-Tir subway station was teargassed. Two Revolutionary Guards were seen with bandaged noses around Haft e-Tir Square; the exact toll of the violence was not immediately clear.
In retaliation, the government shut down mobile networks, and for perhaps the first time since the June 12 presidential election, the Internet was disconnected for several hours late Tuesday night. But protests appear to be coordinated and to be taking other forms apart from street action: on Tuesday, for example, thousands of disgruntled Tehranis tried to bring down the electrical grid at 9 p.m. by simultaneously turning on household appliances like irons, water heaters and toasters. Streets lights in the eastern suburb of Tehran Pars reportedly went off shortly after this, but electricity was not interrupted in central Tehran. [continued…]