Friday, June 19, 2009

The regime doubles down

As an indication of how the power struggles between hardliners and reformists have gone behind the scenes - it doesn't look good. The religious paramilitaries openly threaten vengeance and plan marches on the homes of reformers and the Supreme Leader offers no concessions.

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's supreme leader said Friday that the country's disputed presidential vote had not been rigged, sternly warning protesters of a crackdown if they continue massive demonstrations demanding a new election.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sided with hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and offered no concessions to the opposition. He effectively closed any chance for a new vote by calling the June 12 election an "absolute victory."

The speech created a stark choice for candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and his supporters: Drop their demands for a new vote or take to the streets again in blatant defiance of the man endowed with virtually limitless powers under Iran's constitution.

Andrew Sullivan has the live tweet response to the speech from Iranians here.

So that's it for any hope of some kind of brokered solution, government of national unity, what have you. The only choices for the protesters and reformers now are quietly returning to their homes and waiting for the months of 3 AM raids and mass disappearances that will inevitably follow - or open revolution.

This is going to be a bloody, painful weekend in Iran either way.

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