Sunday, July 12, 2009
You may have noticed that posting has started quite late today. That's because I was on an airplane.
One interesting development today is this one, where five Iranian officials arrested by the US in 2007 have now returned to Iran. The question of course is: who does this benefit? You can see that Manouchehr Mottaki (Ahmadinejad's foreign minister) held a ceremony to welcome them home and the spin being placed on them is that this is a victory for the Islamic Republic (IR does *not* = Ahmadinejad and his supporters, BTW, but this is the spin they are trying to put here). But then again, the question is: what did they do to get them released? It seems that they were handed over to Iraq, which then handed them over to Iran, and in the meantime Iran has simply been roiling due to internal divisions. Is there any speech, any policy, any specific that can be pointed to that resulted in the release of these five that wouldn't have happened otherwise? And what happens to the demonization of the US and the West with one less arrow in the quiver of those that use them to score political points at home?
Iranbaan on Twitter has a really interesting tweet here: apparently a group of ayatollahs in Qom are threatening to leave and move to Najaf in Iraq, a city more holy to Shia Islam than Qom. That's also where Ayatollah Sistani lives, who doesn't like Ahmadinejad in particular (refused to meet him on a visit to Iraq whereas he met with many other officials before when they did). That would be a very nice slap in the face if it were to happen.
The Los Angeles Times also has a good article from yesterday on some recent developments:
-The cleric who heads Khamenei's office of university affairs (Mohammad Mohammadian) acknowledged the discontent over the election and said their questions need to be answered
-Ayatollah Reza Ostadi said he would stop delivering Friday sermons and teaching classes to seminarians due to his anger at the status quo
An article here from yesterday is on the economic effects of the demonstrations and unrest so far. One interesting note is that Ahmadinejad has been able to retain loyalty in some areas through using state funds to provide bonuses and extra money here and there, but this was on the assumption that he would be able to use it as a one-time measure to win an election and ride off into the sunset of a second term, but with the instability at the moment he will likely need to keep up the extra payments or risk a backlash when the extra funding stops flowing.
Interesting approach here: draw a contrast between protesters that want their vote counted and Iraq in the 1980s. I don't see the similarity.