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Iran’s ‘super Friday’ Turns To ‘super Saturday’

Andrew Apostolou is a Senior Program Manager at Freedom House.  

Ayatollah Khamenei's khutba today contained the usual threatening, interesting, and downright weird elements (click here for my rundown of which parts of his speech fell into each category). Khamenei clearly told Mousavi to stop his street protests. He warned that political leaders had a responsibility not to "break the law" as "they would be responsible for the bloodshed."

What Khamanei's full-throated support of the election results means is that the Guardian Council investigation that was triggered by complaints from Mousavi, Karroubi, and Rezaie, is not a concession at all. This outcome should surprise no one: Guardian Council investigations have been used before (notably, in 2005), and they always uphold the presidential election result.

Mousavi has yet to respond. He still intends to have his supporters demonstrate at 4 p.m. in Tehran tomorrow, and he'll be there, along with Karrubi and Khatami. Morteza Tamadon, the governor of Greater Tehran, has refused a permit for the march tomorrow, but he has denied permits for all of the previous marches. Tamadon also dropped a threat by insisting that he was glad that Khamenei had clarified matters.

Also tomorrow, the Guardian Council will hold a meeting with the election candidates. Attendance is required not requested. In theory the Guardian Council has until next Thursday to investigate complaints about the election result. In practice, today's statement by Khamenei has voided that process. Tomorrow's meeting will probably involve Khamenei reading the riot act to Mousavi.

In the meantime, Mousavi continues to use tactics of the 1978-9 revolution. He is asking his supporters to shout Allahu akbar (God is great) from the rooftops at night. When regime television reported that these were shouts of support for Ahmadinejad, Mousavi told his supporters to add Ya Hussein, Mir Hussein, which means "Oh Hussein, Mir Hussein" (a reference to both Imam Hussein, the martyred grandson of Muhammad, and to Mousavi himself). This nighttime noise technique is important outside of Tehran where regime suppression of protests is violent and effective. There have reportedly been no protests on the streets in recent days in the northeastern city of Mashad (where riots were violently suppressed in 1992), but Mousavi's supporters are making plenty of noise at night.