Iran's Guardians Council is expected to soon validate the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Opposition protests will continue to die out, while opponents of Ahmadinejad in the clerical elite are signaling that they will work within the system to preserve the clerical establishment and contain Ahmadinejad.
The Iranian post-election fallout has faded expectedly from the media limelight as it has become all too clear that the Iranian regime will cast aside allegations of fraud and consolidate Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election victory. The 12 clerics and jurists that comprise Iran's Guardians Council are expected to begin a partial and random recount on June 29 of 10 percent of the ballots on Iranian state TV. Defeated opposition and reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has already rejected the council as biased toward Ahmadinejad and refused to show up to the review panel by the noon deadline on June 29. The Guardians Council will likely authenticate the election in Ahmadinejad's favor and is simply going through the motions in an attempt to subdue the opposition movement. The electoral watchdog attempted another confidence-building measure June 29 by announcing it would give Mousavi five more days to submit his ideas on how to settle the election dispute. The announcement is superficial, given that Mousavi already submitted his proposals to the Guardians Council the previous night. As long as the Guardians Council can at least appear that it is working with the opposition to address their complaints, the regime can argue that any disturbances in the streets by protestors are unjustified, illegal and therefore worthy of a forceful crackdown. And the crackdown continues. While Mousavi is struggling to work out a compromise with the regime, leaderless opposition demonstrations are shrinking under pressure from the Iranian security apparatus. The motorcycle-riding, baton-wielding paramilitary arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basij, is still at the forefront of the crackdown, thereby allowing the IRGC to both enhance its clout within the clerical establishment and keep enough distance to label violent Basij acts as renegade. The state is already waist-deep in a propaganda war against the opposition, now claiming that it has arrested those "imposter" Basiji militiamen who were responsible for the death of Neda, the young woman who has become an icon for the so-called Green Revolution. The relatively swift demise of the "Green Revolution" and the state authentication of Ahmadinejad's win come as little surprise. The behind-the-scenes power struggle among the clerical elite, however, is still in motion. Former President and Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani finally spoke out against the election on June 28, calling for a "fair and thorough" study of the legal complaints over the election. But Rafsanjani also struck a very careful balance by praising the Supreme Leader for giving the Guardians Council a five-day extension to probe irregularities and by blaming the post-election crisis on a "complex conspiracy plotted by suspicious elements with the aim of creating a rift between the people and the Islamic establishment and causing them to lose trust in the system." Rafsanjani — a powerful figure in the Iranian system — is making it clear that he is not willing to face off against the Supreme Leader, as many have been led to believe by reports emanating primarily from Saudi-owned media. Instead, Rafsanjani alluded to the Supreme Leader's line that a foreign hand was behind the post-election unrest, and emphasized how he is prioritizing the preservation of the clerical establishment over his opposition to the election results. This is not to say that Rafsanjani is giving up his battle against Ahmadinejad, who he sees as a critical threat to the old clerical elite. Rather, Rafsanjani and allies like Majlis speaker Ali Larijani will work from within the system to ensure Ahmadinejad is contained enough so that he is unable to curtail their own power.