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Report: Hardliners Close In on Mousavi

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

13 Sep 2010 18:3917 Comments
49883.jpgUpdate: Security forces 'raid' Mousavi office.

"Sedition" case launched in judiciary.

[ dispatch ] The Iranian judiciary has initiated proceedings against leaders of the opposition movement, according to an official.

Naser Saraj, deputy head of the judiciary for security and political affairs, told Fars, the news agency closely linked to the security and intelligence forces, that judicial officials have opened a case to put the "leaders of sedition" on trial.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used the word "sedition" for the first time last year to refer to the Green Movement and the post-election crisis. Since then, the term has been repeatedly used by the hardliners to refer to the opposition, especially Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

At the same time, Norooz, the website of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), the largest reformist political party, reported that the area around Mousavi's home has been surrounded by security forces.

According to the website, when Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of former President Mohammad Khatami, a key IIPF member, and deputy speaker in the 6th Majles during 2000-4, tried to visit Mousavi at his home, he was briefly arrested by the security forces and released.

Earlier this month, Karroubi's home was under siege for several days by paramilitary forces.

In July, Hamid Rasaei, a hardline Majles deputy, told Yaa Lesaaraat-e Hossein, the mouthpiece of Ansar-e Hezbollah, a hardline paramilitary group, that in a meeting last year between Ayatollah Khamenei and 30 fundamentalist Majles deputies, the Supreme Leader was asked to allow the judiciary to put the leaders of "sedition" on trial. The ayatollah had responded that could always take place and eventually would. More important than putting them on trial was uprooting the "sedition," the ayatollah reportedly said, adding that if the 1999 "sedition" had been uprooted, the events of the past year would not have happened. This first "sedition" was a reference to the July 1999 uprising by University of Tehran students in their dormitories, after the reformist daily Salaam was shuttered by the judiciary. The uprising quickly spread and shook the foundation of the Islamic Republic.

Back in April, 175 fundamentalist Majles deputies wrote a letter to judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani, asking him to order the judiciary to put the leaders of the Green Movement on trial. Larijani reacted angrily to the letter. He cited Article 157 of the Constitution, which directs the judiciary -- like the other two branches of government -- to execute the policies of the nezaam (political system) according to the wishes of the Supreme Leader.

Seven leading reformist political figures have also taken top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to court, accusing them of large-scale fraud in last year's election. These reformists were paraded through show trials after the June 2009 election and handed long prison sentences. However, all were released on bails totaling millions of dollars in the aggregate. Two of them, Mostafa Tajzadeh and Mohsen Safaei Farahani, were taken back to prison after the lawsuit was filed. Safaei Farahani has since been hospitalized. The IIPF wrote a letter to Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Revolutionary Guards' top commander, which stated that due to his position and command of the security forces, he is personally responsible for Safaei Farahani's health and safety.

According to Mousavi's website, Kalemeh, he described the increased pressure as a consequence of the hardliners' fear of demonstrations. He warned that the problems the nation faces cannot be solved by eliminating him and others in the democratic movement. Mousavi was quoted as saying, "If last year the question of 'Where is my vote' could bring out millions of people to the streets to demonstrate, the policy of violent crackdown ever since, together with the terrible economic condition of the people and the increased international pressure that is a direct result of [Ahmadinejad's] adventurism abroad has increased the likelihood of sudden actions by the people. Karroubi, I, and others are only humble members of this movement. They [the ruling establishment] should be afraid of people's anger, not of us."

Mousavi also said that what the hardliners are doing, including sacking university presidents, attacking the homes of grand ayatollahs that have supported the movement, and similar actions, are tactics to distract people's attention from the nation's deep crisis. Mousavi, his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, Karroubi, and his wife, Fatemeh, along with Mohammad Khatami, have all announced that they are prepared for anything and willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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Dear Dr. Sahimi,

The facts maybe correct, but with an alternative interpretation for some aspects.

Rumors are circulating that the establishment is concerned about foreign orchestrated attempts on Green's leaders. The objective would be to create chaos by blaming the establishment for the murders. The increased security around several Green leader's residences as well as routes of travel may be an attempt to prevent such plans.

Jay / September 13, 2010 7:52 PM

Dr. Sahimi,

How do you interpret the timing of this move in light of your analysis of the deepening of the rift between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad?

Does this mean that Khamenei has decided that the Green Leaders are not interested in any compromise and must be eliminated?

Bahman / September 13, 2010 10:59 PM

This should be fun. To attempt to arrest and try Mousavi or any of the big names will most probably set the streets on fire like not seen since the selection. I really don't believe they have the nerve to follow through on this.

perry1949 / September 14, 2010 1:27 AM

Thank you, Mr. Sahimi, for this report and especially for your incisive analysis of the deepening rift between AN and Khamenei.
The outcome of Mousavi's and Karroubi's possible arrests is difficult to evaluate: in the worst case (for the regime) the people will take to the streets, in the best case they will stay calm.
Iranian experts agree that the recent siege on Karroubi's home was a test, which yielded relatively low popular reactions, perhaps due to his public demand to avoid direct confrontation with the mob. But the most evident change of behaviour became apparent on Qods Day, when the Green Movement refrained from public appearance -- obviously due to heavy security presence, which drove off government supporters as well.
Even if possible arrests should not lead to popular uproar, the regime should refrain from doing so, as it would turn Mousavi and Karroubi into popular "martyrs".

A final note: interestingly both camps appeal to "unity", which they have constantly ignored during the past years. Unfortunately most reformers continue to lobby for their own supporters, instead of including all parts of society in their policies. Imho the people are slowly realising that no camp is really defending their rights.

Arshama / September 14, 2010 3:49 AM

These SHOWS won't work. People in Iran have seen through the deception and KNOW that REFORMISTS are not the TRUE opposition to the Islamic Republic regime. The regime is desperate and is trying to use its opposition wing to mislead the people. It shall not work. The tide that will wash off the Islamic Republic is rising and the REFORMISTS can not save the regime by pretending to be its real opposition.

Maziar Irani / September 14, 2010 3:59 AM

"The objective would be to create chaos by blaming the establishment for the murders."

Taking a page from the regime's playbook? That sounds like one of their tricks only in reverse. I doubt anyone would believe the regime could be so dumb as to pull something like that and the Green movement surely wouldn't so both sides would be looking for the guilty party. A third party would have no chance of pulling something like that off.

perry1949 / September 14, 2010 5:17 AM

While I agree that most people in the opposition have lost faith in the concept of an Islamic Republic as a whole and want to move beyond the regime, I would like to point out that many reformists, such as Tajzadeh and Safai Farahani, have paid dearly in their struggle for freedom since June of 2009. Mousavi and Karoubi have also shown immense bravery and have proven that they are capable of adapting to the situation as opposition demands expand. I suggest people read Mousavi's latest interview in full (in persian). In it he seems to imply that the potential for a full revolution is beginning to emerge and he states that he and Karoubi will stand by the people. Thanks to Khamenei, reformists today are revolutionaries whether they want to be or not. No one can carry out any meaningful reforms in the Islamic Republic without going through a revolution first. The people are not going to settle for reforms after they've paid the price for a revolution.

Cy / September 14, 2010 5:26 AM


While what you say is possible, I find it improbable. The problem is deeper than that.


Just as in the case of Karroubi's home, this could very be by the supporters of Ahmadinejad to send a message to Ayatollah Khamenei. Ahmadinejad's supporters have wanted to put Mousavi and Karroubi on trial, but other cooler heads have so far prevailed.

Maziar (or Maziar Irani, or Maziar58):

You are of course entitled to your opinion, and must freely express them here, as you do elsewhere. But, I have yet to read one constructive comment by you. Just rejecting is not enough. You become credible only when, in addition to rejecting, also propose practicable alternatives.


Could not agree with you more on what you say.

Muhammad Sahimi / September 14, 2010 7:44 AM

Maziar -

Do you ever have anything productive to say? Or do you just hate?

It's fine to disagree with the concept of an Islamic Republic but it's cowards like you who sit comfortably in Europe and America and bash people for putting their lives in danger for their fellow country men.

Go ahead, respond with your hate filled vitriol, that's all you're good for.

B / September 14, 2010 8:19 AM

I do agree with Cy. But I am guessing it will take more than arrests of Mousavi and Karroubi for Iranians to come to Streets. I mean we all know that Khamenei will tell Basij to use real bulets to shoot people. We all know that Baisj will obey Khamenei. Iranians do not want to die. I am thinking if oil industry workers go one strike, then, maybe something could happen unless Ahmadinejad import some Chinese workers of course.

Amin / September 14, 2010 9:37 AM


Can you please share a link to Mousavi's latest article? Thank you.

B / September 14, 2010 9:13 PM

Dr. Sahimi,

You have really confused me now. I was under the impression you were for gradual change and from within.

According to Cy, " Thanks to Khamenei, reformists today are revolutionaries whether they want to be or not. No one can carry out any meaningful reforms in the Islamic Republic without going through a revolution first. The people are not going to settle for reforms after they've paid the price for a revolution."

which I agree with, but I never expected the following response from you, "Could not agree with you more on what you say."

Are you changing your strategy based on facts on the ground? I just wanted to say, welcome home Dr. Sahimi.

Niloofar / September 14, 2010 9:26 PM

Reading between the lines, it seems the judiciary under Sadegh Larijani is being seen as more willing to deal with the hardliners, esp. bearing in mind this:
and the (temporary?) fall of Mortazavi, apparently at Rafsanjani's request. The pressure on Mousavi seems (at least partly) to be a response to that. Rafsanjani's next move should tell us how much he cares about Mousavi and the Greens, or whether he's just after protecting himself, his family and his finances. I suspect he'll try to be the knight in shining armour come to Mousavi's rescue, but with an eye to his own candidature in 2013 ;-)

I see this whole Rafsanjani move is being picked up by MSM now:

Ian / September 14, 2010 10:47 PM


Here is the link:


and another if the first doesn't work for some reason:


Cy / September 15, 2010 1:14 AM

All that is necessary for the EVIL to triumph is for the TRUTH to be suppressed. We Iranians experienced that in 1979. Liars made Khomeini and his clan into saviors in late late 70s while majority of those who knew better stayed silent.

I for one am not going to be silent and let the history repeat itself. I see a similar trend with a certain clique with interests in the Islamic Republic, particularly outside of Iran, promoting the so called Reformist faction of the regime.

I am here to CRITICIZE articles, not write them. I suggest the author and his IR buddies focus on defending their weak view points instead of attacking the commentators.

Maziar Irani / September 15, 2010 1:32 AM


Thank you.


I'm not a reformist dear and no one here thinks Mousavi or Karroubi are "saviors." When Karroubi says the people of Iran have a right to decide whether or not they want an Islamic Republic I agree with his position - that's it.

And no one asked you to write an article, just state one position that is devoid of HATE, ANGER, BITTERNESS or BASELESS ACCUSATIONS. You're incapable.

B / September 15, 2010 10:27 PM


Some of these reformists have completely disrupted their lives for what they believe in. They have put a big question mark on the future of their families and have endured prison and torture. All of them could have continued to live very comfortable lives by just keeping quiet. I for one, as someone who is against the Islamic Republic and believes that Iran will never be free until the regime is removed in its entirety(either through a revolution or by reforming it out of existence), am humbly grateful to people like Saharkhiz, Tajzadeh and Safaei Farahani. Your suggestion that they are looking out for their personal interests or that the regime is pulling their strings is simply ridiculous.

Before the 2009/2010 uprising I was sceptical of pretty much all of the reformists as well, but today it is very clear that many of them are very brave and principled individuals who love Iran. This of course does not mean that they own the movement as Mousavi himself has repeatedly accepted. Ultimately the movement belongs to the people of Iran. Just looking at the faces of some of those who have been killed it is very clear that they had their eyes set on something bigger than limited reforms. When the time comes I don't think Mousavi and Karoubi will stand in the way of the Nedas and Sohrabs of Iran who died for something bigger than a reformed Theocracy ruled by a smiling 80 year old cleric instead of Khamenei. "Na Gaza, Na Lebanon, Janam Fadaye Iran" made it clear that this generation of Iranians isn't even going to let anyone pick their slogans for them!

For the time being, reformists and democrats are in the same boat. At this stage in the struggle in Iran there is no difference, in practice, between those who want real reforms and those who want full democracy. No one welcomes the unnecessary divisions that you are offering. When the time comes reforms will not save a system whose pillars, without exception, have failed the people abysmally. Be it its Judiciary, Parliament, Guardian Council, Expediency Council, Assembly of Experts, and of course its Supreme Leader. There is not one institution in the Islamic Republic that hasn't betrayed the people in this crisis. I wouldn't worry about reforms saving this house of cards.

Cy / September 16, 2010 10:59 AM