August has been a quiet month, relatively speaking, insofar as protests against the fraudulent Iranian presidential elections go. The regime has been holding show trials of prominent reformers and protesters in an attempt to link the Green Movement to foreign intrigues and plots and to lay the foundation for a case against leaders of the movement (Mousavi, Khatami and Karoubi primarily).
The trials are such obvious shams that even the regime must know that the vast majority of the population can see right through the charade. But in the same spirit of sheer audacity that we witnessed in the aftermath of the stolen election, in which a millions-strong opposition movement was curbed violently and brutally by the various government goon squads (the Basij, Revolutionary Guards, police and “rogue” elements including paid foreign mercenaries) the same government is now putting on this farcical show. They simply don’t care that the people see through it. The people are just sheep to be manipulated and used to further the nefarious agendas of the regime’s current power brokers.
The show trials are primarily for the consumption of the regime’s own loyalists, the very people that crushed the will of the nation. There is a narrative that the regime uses to brainwash its loyalists in order to hold onto power. The narrative revolves around foreign plots to overthrow the precious regime and overturn the Islamic revolution. The Basij and IRGC have obviously been hurt by the public backlash against them, and the hatred that the Iranian people now openly display towards them after the crackdown that they imposed at the order of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. In order to appease them, the narrative must continue. They are more liable to accept the blatant lies of the regime being forced down the throats of the people being held on trial and the population as a whole. They have a vested interest in being this gullible. The government, under Khamenei’s rule and especially during Ahmadinejad’s first stolen term (that’s right, I said ‘first stolen term’) has allowed the IRGC to build a vast financial network for themselves which they run mafia-style. In effect, Iran has become a military-industrial complex of the worst kind. Hence the necessary show-trials.
However, we can’t count the Green Movement out. Far from it in fact. The movement is alive, well, and gestating. Right now, the regime is digging its own grave in various ways. The office and position of the Supreme Leader have been vastly diminished. His hold on power, while appearing fairly solid, is tenuous at best. Ahmadinejad is defying or contradicting Khamenei on a regular basis. In the Islamic Republic system, the Supreme Leader is supposed to be holding the position of leadership while waiting for the hidden Imam, the twelfth Imam, to return. The twelfth Imam is believed by Shias to be in a state of occultation, waiting to return in the end of days to lead all of Islam and the world. Ahmadinejad leaves an empty cabinet seat in wait for the imminent return of the twelfth Imam. This is already a usurpation of one the Supreme Leader’s responsibilities.
There was the scuffle over an appointment of Ahmadinejad’s brother-in-law, Mashaei. Khamenei ordered that Ahmadinejad rescind his decision and it took over a week for Ahmadinejad to comply. And then he promptly appointed Mashaei to the position of his chief of staff. And when recently Khamenei stated that he had seen no evidence implicating the leaders of the opposition (Mousavi, Khatami and Karoubi) in having colluded with foreign elements, Ahmadinejad went on to state that he believes that the leaders of the opposition should be dealt with swiftly, and should be punished.
Clearly there is a massive chasm between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad now. Ahmadinejad has become a liability to Khamenei, big time.
This is why Khamenei appointed Sadegh Larijani to head the judiciary. The Larijanis are from a prominent clerical family, and are centrist conservatives. Ahmadinejad is a follower of ulta-hardline cleric, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. The Larijanis are power-hungry opportunists. Khamenei is giving them the opportunity to deal with Ahmadinejad. It suits Khamenei to do this for several reasons.
First, by distancing himself from Ahmadinejad, Khamenei is trying to return to the role of benevolent and fair leader (pah!). He is basically implying that they have gone too far in the crackdown. In reality he cares only for his own power, so he is upset at Ahmadinejad primarily for the shoddy way in which the coup was orchestrated, and for the disobedience that Ahmadinejad has been showing him of late.
Second, by having two weakened conservative factions (the centrist Larijanis and the Ahmadinejad clan) at each others throats, vying for power, he can sit pretty as Supreme Leader and help everyone make amends.
I think Khamenei wants to contain Ahmadinejad, but only when he is certain that this won’t entail his own demise.
Expect a few of the loyal servants of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei to be hung out to dry. My bet is on the notorious chief prosecutor of Tehran, Saeed Mortazavi. He was behind the torture, rape and murder of the Canadian-Iranian journalist, Zahra Kazemi, in 2003. Back then, the government of Iran backed him. He was responsible for the prosecution during the recent show-trials. Larijani just fired him.
As the Machiavellian plots continue to unfold in the power structures of Iran, one thing remains certain: the quiet that we are experiencing right now from the people does not mean that they have been silenced. Far from it, this is the quiet before the storm. The Green Movement is alive and well and in waiting for the next opportunity to put a stick in the eye of this regime.