Monday, December 28, 2009

Opposition leader's nephew among nine dead amid rioting and bloodshed in Iran.

I wish I had some optimistic prediction as to how this is going to pan out, but I don't:

Iran was plunged deeper into crisis on a day of religious mourning yesterday as political tensions erupted into violence that left at least nine dead, including a nephew of the main opposition leader.

Mayhem unfolded in Tehran after a brutal crackdown in which security forces fired on protesters gathered on Ashura, one of the holiest days in the Shia calendar. The shootings killed at least four people, with another said to have died from head injuries after being beaten by police. Among the dead was Ali Mousavi, a nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi, leader of the reformist movement. He was reported to have been shot through the heart.

Demonstrators – many chanting slogans against Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – retaliated by attacking members of the security forces, in some cases beating them with their own batons. Police cars were set on fire and photographs appeared to show riot officers retreating under a hail of stones.

A further four people were killed and many others injured in the northern city of Tabriz, according to reformist websites. Clashes were also reported in several other cities, including Isfahan, Shiraz, Arak, Mashhad, Babol and Najafabad.

In the summer it appeared as if the state had shown the opposition that it was prepared to use more violence than they could stomach. And yet, the opposition now rise again.

Khamenei must surely now regret the fact that he threw his weight so solidly behind Ahmadinejad, as he now finds his own position as Supreme Leader being questioned. But, it's not something he is going to give up lightly, so there will be further bloodshed should the protests continue.

Although there are hints that the opposition are becoming even more fearless:
The violent response of the protesters to the security forces was also unprecedented and suggested that many are becoming fearless in the face of state repression. While many demonstrators in the post-election protests covered their faces, footage from videos shown yesterday on YouTube showed most people with their faces exposed.
This is no longer simply about reversing the election of Ahmadinejad, the crowds are now questioning the legitimacy of Khamenei, which is why I feel there will be no way out of this without terrible bloodshed. Khamenei is not going to give up his position without a considerable fight.

Click here for full article.

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