Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Larijani vs. Interior Ministry

I'm not sure this means anything, but I'll note it just in case. On Monday, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani announced an investigation into the attacks on the Tehran University dorms. Yesterday, he also laid the blame on the Interior Ministry. The Interior Ministry is now mounting its own investigation:
"Iran's Interior Ministry has ordered an investigation into an attack on university students, which they say was carried out by Islamic militia and police.

"Iran's English-language Press TV said the ministry had 'called on Tehran's governor's office to identify those involved' in the June 14 incident. It did not make clear whether the ministry itself would also look into it.

"It came a day after Iran's influential speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, condemned the attack on the dormitory of Tehran University."
Part of this may go back to the image management issue, with the regime thinking either that it might have gone too far or that it needs to issue some fake expressions of regret.

Another angle, however, lies in that fact that within the constellation of people and groups involved the the regime, Larijani is close to Khamene'i, but has had an occasionally tense relationship with Ahmadinejad. During his speakership, the Majlis forced out Ahmadinejad's previous Interior Minister, Ali Kordan, and only narrowly approved the current minister, Sadeq Mahsouli. Given that background, how do Larijani's actions fit into the present situation in Iran? Is he sending a signal to Ahmadinejad to cool it? If so, was this signal coordinated with Khamene'i? Alternately, is Larijani just angling for more legitimacy for the legislature in the government if the current situation settles without a change in officeholders?

UPDATE: Nico Pitney on the regime's PR strategy:
"We see state-run TV repeatedly interviewing shopkeepers whose stores have been damaged. We see the plainclothes Basijis and even riot police committing indiscriminate acts of vandalism -- on houses, cars, and businesses (which of course the media never shows). We see top government officials refer to the demonstrators as 'rioters.'

"The PR campaign, in other words, is to convince the broad swath of the public -- the people who may sympathize with the Green Uprising but aren't yet motivated enough to join it -- that the Green movement isn't political at all. It's merely a group of hooligans who are causing chaos and committing petty crimes for the thrill of it."
If that's their plan, and it makes sense that it is, then they need a new one.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



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