international intrigue

Your Morning Iran-Unrest Update

If you love the smell of a popular uprising in the morning, here’s what’s been going on in Iran:

• Cracks in the ruling religious elite are becoming more evident, as Iran’s most senior Islamic cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, slammed the election as a sham. “A government not respecting people’s vote has no religious or political legitimacy,” he said on his website. “I ask the police and army personals (personnel) not to ‘sell their religion,’ and beware that receiving orders will not excuse them before God.” Meanwhile, an Iran expert told Anderson Cooper that he hears that the Assembly of Experts, which is “the only group that is empowered to remove the Supreme Leader from power,” has “issued an emergency meeting in Qom” to “talk about what to do about Khamenei.”

• Ayatollah Khamenei, for his part, has called for the country to unite behind the status quo, declaring, “In the elections, voters had different tendencies, but they equally believe in the ruling system and support the Islamic Republic.”

• When he wasn’t busy swatting flies, President Obama told CNBC’s John Harwood: “My hope is that the regime responds not with violence, but with a recognition that the universal principles of peaceful expression and democracy are ones that should be affirmed. Am I optimistic that that will happen? You know, I take a wait-and-see approach.”

• Speaking of “peaceful expression and democracy,” Iran continues to warn foreign journalists not to venture outside their hotel rooms to cover events in the streets. Not only because they will be arrested, but because somebody will probably beat them up. Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Guards have demanded that Iranians remove any material from websites or blogs that “create tension” or they’ll face legal action, which actually seems kind of lenient. And the Iranian authorities have stepped up their arrests of journalists, political activists, reform politicians, and other dissenting firebrands.

• A demonstration is planned for 5 p.m. today, according to Twitter, while opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has called for a “mass rally” on Thursday.

• Organizers here in New York are planning a peaceful rally at Union Square tonight from seven to nine.

Iran Updates (VIDEO): Live-Blogging The Uprising [HuffPo]
Bracing for New Protests, Iran Issues Media Warning [NYT]
Iranian Opposition Calls for Rally [WSJ]
Iran’s senior ayatollah slams election, confirming split [McClatchy]
Iran opposition defiant as media grip tightened [CNN]

Your Morning Iran-Unrest Update