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Karroubi and Others Refute Government's Claim of a Compromise

By Shayan Ghajar,

On January 25, prominent opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi stated that although the June elections were massively rigged, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is technically the head of the government because he was recognized as such by the Supreme Leader. Almost immediately, Fars News, a pro-government news agency with ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, reported that Karroubi had acknowledged that Ahmadinejad had won the elections in a fair manner, and was the legitimate president. The Fars News story may be found here (Persian language).

Mehdi Karoubi

This story has taken off in the international press, with many articles portraying Karroubi's statement as a sign that Green Movement leadership is backing down. The New York Times even reported that Karroubi has abandoned his calls for a new election: see "Iran Opposition Leaders Drop Demand for New Election."

This is an inaccurate characterization of Karroubi's remarks and intentions regarding the future of the Green Movement. Karroubi and his political allies have issued a flurry of statements in the last 24 hours categorically denying the Fars News story and reaffirming their positions on issues central to the Green Movement's goals.

Yesterday evening, Mojtaba Vahedi, an advisor to Karroubi and member of his Etemad Melli Party, clarified the context of Karroubi's statement. Vahedi quotes Karroubi as saying that the elections were indeed rigged, and that threats will not cause him to back down. Regarding the validity of the government, he had stated that because the government had been sworn in by Ayatollah Khamenei it had to do its duties for the people. Karroubi reiterated that the elections were invalid, but said that the people of Iran have daily needs that, regardless of legitimacy, only the government could address. Most significantly, Vahedi quotes Karroubi as saying he is "certain that Ahmadinejad's government will not last a full four years." Vahedi's statement is available from Rahe Sabz (Persian language), and an informal translation to English may be found here.

Zahra Rahnavard, Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife, made a statement yesterday in an interview with website Rooz Online reaffirming the strong stance of Green Movement leaders and rejecting the notion of compromise or recognizing Ahmadinejad's government as legitimate. "We will use our chests as shields, and we are ready for any bullets, attacks, or assassination," she stated.

Zahra Rahnavard

When asked if she felt recent statements by Mousavi and Karroubi indicated a move toward compromise with the government, she emphatically denied the possibility, saying, "There is no sign of that at all, and no compromise in the works."

When asked by the Rooz Online reporter if she felt the wave of arrests following the Ashura protests had diminished the Green Movement's resolve, Rahnavard said she felt the opposite was true. The arrest of reformist intellectuals, she explained, didn't slow down the Green Movement at all, and proved to its supporters that the reformist intellectuals were following the popular will rather than vice versa.

Finally, Zahra Rahnavard was asked if she were afraid of being physically attacked for her and her husband's political activities. "I am not afraid of death. I said earlier that we will use our chests as shields, and I myself am ready for any bullets, attacks, or assassination." Rahnavard's interview may be found at Rooz Online (Persian Language) and an informal translation may be found here.

Karroubi himself issued a statement January 26 on his party's news page refuting any allegations that he has conceded to the government or recognized Ahmadinejad as legitimate. Karroubi said the government intentionally misrepresented his words, adding, "I am strongly emphasizing that I will never compromise the rights of the people of this nation. One of the most important rights of the people is the right to cast votes with full trust in the government. I will be with the people to the very end, and will continue to try to remove barriers in order to have a free election." Karroubi's full statement may be found on Saham News (Persian language) and a brief English summary may be found here.

Karroubi's comment on January 25, however misconstrued, has raised the question of compromise. It remains to be seen if any dialogue between prominent opposition leaders and the government will occur, yet Mir Hossein Mousavi's 17th statement laid a basic framework around which dialogue could be established. Mousavi's statement listed five fundamental demands that the government must address to satisfy the Green Movement.

Farokh Negahdar, an Iranian political exile living in Europe, published an editorial in Rooz Online analyzing the state of the opposition, the possible reactions of the government, and the sentiments of the "popular base" of the Green Movement.

Mousavi's 17th statement, Negahdar says, "has increased the trust that activists have in Mousavi as a politician, and, has strengthened his position among the public. Furthermore, it has driven the government one step closer to accepting Mousavi as the 'voice of the other side.'" He characterizes the response of the Green Movement at large to Mousavi's statement as "positive feedback from almost all its various inclinations." Negahdar believes that the government has attempted to alienate Mousavi and Karroubi from the popular base of the movement but found it impossible, leading to their current stalemate. His editorial may be found at Rooz Online (English language).

With such strong support from the Green Movement's popular base, and having laid the groundwork for dialogue with his 17th statement, Moussavi has put the ball in the government's court. Either Khamenei must make an overture to compromise in the next week, or commemorations of the Iranian Revolution in early February will witness what many predict will be major clashes between protestors and government forces.

About: is a bi-weekly journal of analysis and research written primarily by scholars and activists living inside Iran and those who have recently left the country. Our purpose is to provide in-depth information about the internal political dynamic that is unavailable in the mainstream media. Through research and commentary, we will continue to document the political and theological crisis.

... Payvand News - 01/29/10 ... --

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