As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In The Name Of Akbar Hashemi

I understand all the outpouring of support for Neda, killed on the streets of Tehran and captured on YouTube dying. She may become an important symbolic figure in the continued protest movement in Iran, and her martyrdom will form a cycle of protest and dissent. But Neda's memory will not win the battle against the ruling regime, at least not in the same way that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's insider dealing may.

Which brings me to the fight within. On Sunday, I saw Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, the son of the establishment’s embittered éminence grise, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He told me his father, who despises President Mahmoud Adhmadinejad, is fighting a furious rearguard action to have the election annulled by the Guardian Council, the 12-member oversight body that will pronounce this week on the election’s legality.

The ruling had seemed a formality, given Khamenei’s summary dismissal of a recount and the loyalist composition of the body, but the Council is now talking about irregularities in 50 cities and discrepancies that could affect 3 million votes. Out of a total of 40 million votes, that’s a significant number.

There are rumblings from the influential parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, who is close to Khamenei but not Ahmadinejad. With Rafsanjani, Khatami and the defeated conservative former Revolutionary Guard leader, Mohsen Rezai, the dissenting front has breadth. Rezai, who officially won 680,000 votes, says more than 900,000 voters have written to him with their ID numbers saying they cast their ballot for him.

The people drove this uprising with bravery. But they need Rafsanjani on the inside to be successful. With all the layers of police state forces that can deploy to crush dissent, only a split on the inside will force the necessary changes. Hoping for anything different would be as silly as hoping that the neocon "clap louder!" approach could bear any fruit.

...this is not to say that Neda's story won't be an important part of the uprising, in a similar way that this literally insane story about the Basiji asking a dead bystander teen's family for a "bullet fee" for the ordnance they entered into his body. It's just that Rafsanjani's moves will actually have the most impact, though they will not play out on the streets.

...And the Guardian Council has stated that the vote count will stand, and what's a few million votes among friends, anyway?

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