That seems the key question right now. Accused of corruption during the election, ignored, not to say humiliated by Khamenei when he complained about it, “the shark” must be feeling the heat. You wouldn’t think Rafsanjani has come as far as he has through the revolutionary turbulence to be totally powerless, but perhaps he has underestimated his opponents. I see his response, though, as key to how things unfold. Launching what could spill into bloody confrontation now might be overplaying his hand. But to sit on that hand could also work against him.
Sunday’s events have been rather sketchy, despite the constant stream of breathless but largely unsourced reports on Twitter. Things can only get worse as the regime clamps down on electronic outlets and, as is becoming increasingly clear, throws the foreign press out. There are unconfirmed reports of tanks in the streets of Tehran, disturbances in several cities and some deaths. Certainly there were brutal clashes in Tehran. Nothing much changes then. How many times have we seen this played out before? It reminds me of the events that hounded Bani-Sadr out of the country after he tried to take on the hardliners.
What also brought memories flooding back were the rooftop calls of Allah-o Akhbar that my sources in Tehran told me were repeated Sunday night. This has brought with it the hope that again the people can beat the regime as they did the Shah. Sorry guys: the point you miss is that the Shah, for all his faults, mostly baulked at slaughtering lots of people in the streets – and we’ll probably never know the truth about Jaleh Square – whereas I have no doubt this lot would not hesitate.
According to Moussavi supporters, a big march has been called for Monday. Problem about that is that forewarned is forearmed as far as the regime is concerned.