the beginning or the end

Khameni drew a line in the sand Friday, Today the Iranian nation will cross it and say 'we are in charge'. #Iranelection #Iranelections

Tomorrow (today in Iran) will be a defining moment for the movement. On Friday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not back down at all from previous statements, calling the election fair and holding support for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He threatened no more protests will be accepted. Reform leaders are calling for a rally Saturday in opposition to Khamenei. The question now is if people will back down due to fear of retaliation or continue going strong. If a majority back down this will be the end of the movement. If they continue the question will be to see what the response of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard will be. Will they respond with violence? How will the Army respond? So far they have stayed neutral but have stated they will not shoot Iranian citizens. But will they side with the people or continue to stay on the sidelines. There have also been mentions of Revolutionary Guard commanders being arrested for not obeying orders. Will a part of the IRG side with the population? This could lead to civil war. There is definitely a power struggle going on. A number of reformist leaders are former high position government officials. The mullahs (basically high clerics) have also condemned Khamenei's speech.

In other news, SMS (text) services are finally back in Iran. This could be a huge advantage for the opposition if the government decides to not turn it off again. The U.S. has also passed a resolution supporting the protesters and Obama is expect to sign. Purely symbolic but will be ammo for the regime.

More about Khamenei's talk from Tatsuma.

A relatively large crowd was present to hear Khameini declared during the prayers, while Reformist leaders called on their supporters to stay home. It was very easy to notice that this crowd was also much older than those we have seen revolting.

There were two sermons, a religious one and a political one.
- The religious sermon itself was rather short and stayed on topic. It concentrated at first on peace and tranquility, leading into the fact that the Revolution was the Will of Allah, that it was sacred and its goals were the goals of Allah. He continued by asking Allah victory over their common enemies, and that people who went against the Revolution were enemies of Allah.

- The policial speech was much longer and disjointed. He started by thanking everyone for the election, then he proceeded to blame the West, claimed that Iran was one of the most democratic country on Earth and that the results were not rigged. He claimed that while yes, there is some corruption in Iran, it's nowhere near the UK MP expenses scandal. He then directly threatened the pro-Reformists leaders, saying that all the violence will be their responsibility. This is all the works of Zionist spies and British radio, and Hillary Clinton was responsible for Waco so Iran is better than America and the West.

There are three major statements to be gleaned from these speech, with further confirmation of a fourth. However boring and long-winded it might have been to the Western ear, it was a major milestone of this revolution, and its implications are far-reaching:

1- His declaration that the Islamic Revolution sacred, that its goals were the goals of Allah and that those who went against it were the enemies of Allah. He then asked Allah victory over the enemies.

This is major. He has in fact painted the entire reformist movement as being anti-Islamic. Due to his position, and the tone that he adopted, this is basically a death sentence delivered to those who will keep on protesting. Not unexpected, but a bold move nonetheless.

2 - He fully supports Ahmadinejad.

This is not a surprise, but he did not back down one inch. He does not give credibility to any of the Reformist claims, and says to either toe the line, or suffer the consequences.

3 - He has put the responsability of violence on the shoulders of the Reformist leaders, and openly declared that he is not going to tolerate it anymore.

This means that the repression from now on will be much more violent, and has more or less openly threatened the leaders of the Revolution that they will pay with their lives if they continue.

4 - As confirmed by Stratfor, the Revolutionary Guard has taken over from the police in all matters of domestic law and order. This effectively means that they are going to start crushing dissent as well, and that they have allied themselves to the regime.

Out of all major developments, this is the biggest one. Will the army stay Neutral, toe the line or side with the Reformists?

It seems that in reaction to being relegated second in the Satans category, the U.S. House has decided to pass a resolution supporting the protesters and Obama is expected to endorse it, which will most likely lead to further delegitimization of the Reformist movement.

In other news, things are not rosy for the Basij and there are increasing signs that they are starting not only to lose ground, but to fear for their safety. There are many reports that most Basij forces are now hiding their identities with masks for fear of reprisal. There are websites being created featuring images and often identities of Basij who have been violently repressing students, calling for actin to be taken against those men.

The Internet and International Solidarity

The recent events in Iran, dubbed the Twitter Revolution by some, have been unprecedented in which the Internet has been used during such events. In a country where the theocratic regime blocked nearly all access to the press, baffling mainstream media outlets, social networks, Twitter in particular, have become the main sources of information. While CNN could barely figure out what was going on, users on news website Fark.com give up to the minute updates deduced from a handful of Iranian “tweeters” they have deemed reliable from the past days events. By the time the mainstream media caught on it was difficult to separate truth from lies by the Iranian government trying to undermine the service. By this time the Fark users knew who provided factual information.

Twitter allows users to give updates to their followers in 140 characters or less. The service, often called more a novelty than practical form of communication, has proved invaluable for organizing and giving the outside world a glimpse of what is going on in Iran. Tweets are mostly factual information. “News: Eyewitness confirmed arabic speaking riot polices "definitely NOT Irani-arabs"” says a post by StopAhmai. Others show hope and astonishment; “Thursday Sea of Green was more than ONE MILLION people,” posts another user. Sometimes the wear of the struggle comes out; “I'm sorry about being negative, we're are doing all we can and still we have zero progress & I'm feeling bad about it.” Some users request their user names are not revealed in fear of retaliation by the government. Due to the nature of the service the government would have to shut down the Internet to silence Twitter, as was done in Moldova a few months ago. With the use of proxy servers set up abroad, tech savvy Iranians are able to go around government filters.

The most amazing aspect of the service is not the information it brings but the people it connects. Even workers on the political right, that months ago would have agreed with a U.S. strike against Iran, stood with Iranians. Users on Fark shared concern, support and anger, deep emotions, with people they had never met nor even held a conversation with. Users would worry when a tweeter had gone hours without posting, discuss wearing green armbands to work, help each other with setting up proxy servers, and pass along any information they can to help the movement. For many, this broke their assumptions of Iran as a backwards country behind the times. Historically this is the first time such an event has been told from the strugglers' perspective. Maybe more importantly this is the first time the working class of the world has united in solidarity through such direct personal means.