Over the past several weeks, the major players in the post election unrest in Iran have been relatively quiet on the public stage. Mehdi Karroubi has not openly challenged the regime over post election detainee abuses in quite some time, and Mir Hossein Mousavi has only released a video interview in recent weeks. While there have been meetings between them and other reform leaders, there has been very little, if any open challenge to the coup leaders and the regime. Also, since the Council of Experts meeting in late September, Rafsanjani has been invisible, Ayatollahs Montazeri and Dastgheib (the most outspoken against the regime) have been very passive of late. Even the parliament has been very quiet regarding post election abuses and any national unity plan.
On the other hand, the oppostion has taken advantage of every opportunity to protest; in the University’s, football matches, vigils, media fair and even workers protests. They have also been working diligently on spreading the word for the planned protest on 13 Aban (Nov. 4th) by printing and passing out fliers, distributing videos over the web and on discs, and by old fashioned word of mouth.
Today, the media has reported that Ayatollah Khamenei said “that anyone who questions the legitimacy of the election is committing the biggest crime” (full story in english and farsi). It appears that he is speaking directly to the opposition reform leaders, and indirectly to anyone who protests the election results. Could this relatively quiet period be “the calm before the storm?” Has the supreme leader weighed all of his options regarding “national unity plans” and come to a decision? With 13 Aban just one week away and the realization that the protests will be even larger and more widespread than that of Quds day, one has to believe a storm is brewing. Whether the storm clouds are gathering over the heads of the reform leaders or the protestors is what remains to be seen. There is some indication that both may be the case. As mentioned before, the statement made today is directly aimed at the reform leaders, and there is other “unconfirmed” information that says the supreme leader is asking for major concessions from Khatami, Mousavi and Karroubi, including public apologies and admitting they “unknowingly became tools of enemies.” If true, and they do not capitulate, one must assume they will be arrested and tried, or the order of protection for them will be lifted, which would release plain-clothed regime thugs to do the dirty work. It seems less likely that Khamenei would give the go ahead to use force against the protestors on 13 Aban, but there seems to be a build up of forces on the streets in recent days. And at the universities, some sources in Iran are reporting build ups of basij and plainclothed agents. The regime has also issued a warning to the press not to cover the protests on 13 Aban.
One thing is clear, the opposition will be out in full force on 13 Aban. What is not so clear, is what will the response be by the regime.
The clouds are gathering.