The Massacre At Enghelab Square
The ruling regime in Iran did not allow the opposition demonstrators to assemble in Tehran. They've really cracked down on communication, but it appears that 20,000 police have blocked the streets, dispersed crowds with tear gas, water cannons and just flat-out beating. There may not be tanks in the streets, but certainly a lot of violence. Nico Pitney reports killings. And it has seemed to dampen the turnout of the protest, although they are continuing.
The regime also put together their own Gulf of Tonkin incident. A suicide bomber reportedly blew himself up near the shrine of Imam Khomeini, though that is unconfirmed outside of state-run Iranian television. This will be used, regardless of the perpetrator, to justify more repression, and lots of tweets out of Iran claim that the regime blew up the mausoleum themselves.
Khamenei warned this and he's following through. They will lose international legitimacy after an election which attempted to seek it. It will be interesting to see how the international community reacts.
With Khamenei on Friday demanding an end to the demonstrations, and the protesters apparently unwilling to back down, some senior aides to President Barack Obama say they fear a bloody crackdown as soon as Saturday by Iran's security forces.
That, they say, would force Obama to react sharply, abandoning the cautious rhetoric he's used so far and perhaps torpedoing his hopes of diplomatic engagement with Iran for a long time. Officials say they're preparing for such an eventuality. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because of the situation's sensitivity.
Other aides cautioned that the U.S. government doesn't know what will happen next — and neither, probably, do the major players in this drama.
This from Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the Iranian filmmaker and Mousavi spokesman, is worth reading.
This is more coverage of protests on CNN than I've ever seen them cover the protests of the Iraq war over six years. But I do appreciate them taking it seriously.
...This is insightful from Juan Cole:
Khamenei seemed to me to explain one thing I had not understood, which is why the regime felt compelled to allege that Ahmadinejad had won in such a landslide, of 63% to Mousavi's 32%. I still don't find that assertion plausible. But Khamenei gave as one reason for which there could be no challenge to Ahmadinejad's victory that a margin of 11 million votes was unassailable. It would have been more plausible if Ahmadinejad had squeaked out a victory, but I now see that the down side for the regime would have been that a narrow win for the incumbent, despite being more believable, would have emboldened the challengers and put pressure on the supreme leader for a genuine recount. This way, Khamenei can just shoot down such demands. But what he does not realize is that although he has made it easier to resist a recount, he has completely undermined faith in the system on the part of millions of Iranians, who, as he said, were system insiders, not outsiders. Whether or not Khamenei succeeds in quelling the current unrest, I don't think the regime will be left untouched by this debacle in the future.
They sacrificed long-term legitimacy for a short-term talking point.