Now, the last time I updated you about the Iranian politics was right before the election, in which I showed that Rouhani had run an unprecedented campaign, in which he had broken many taboos of Iranian politics, the most important of which was directly attacking the Revolutionary Guards, and also indirectly attacking the Supreme Leader himself.
Now it seems that the situation has escalated. Rouhani is being attacked in an unprecedented manner in our history by the Supreme Leader, the Revolutionary Guard, and also the right wing media, and he has attacked as mercilessly in return. This level of tensions, this openly, and this intensely has been very rare in our history. Neither the regime nor Rouhani seem to be willing to tone it down even a little.
Just as a couple of examples: Khamenei compared Rouhani with Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran’s first democratically elected president who was removed from office by parliament in 1981 because he was at odds with Khomeine, the Supreme Leader. This was obviously a not-so-veiled threat that the same would happen to Rouhani. He also told his followers that if the government is unable to do its duties, they can “fire at will”, something that many interpreted as blanket permission to basijis and militias to violently suppress the people who support Rouhani’s government.
On the other side, Rouhani has not toned down his rhetoric. Not only that, he seems to up the ante every time he speaks. He once mentioned that people’s votes are necessary for the legitimacy of the government, causing a backlash among conservative cleric who say only God’s permission is necessary. In response to that, he went ahead and said “Not even the prophet of Islam had the right to rule over people without their consent”. In the same speech, he said: “According to the 44th article of our constitution, we were supposed to privatize our economy. But we took it from the government without arms to the government with arms”. A very direct swipe at the Revolutionary Guards.
The instances of back and forth that I mention are only a small sample of what has happened. it has been a month of unstopped tension, as if four years of tension were crammed into a single month.
This atmosphere has caused many people to worry. Many are afraid that Rouhani may end up like Banisadr, removed from office. Some are worried that he might be assassinated. Less dramatically, people are worried that he might be completely paralyzed and unable to do anything. Making matters worse, his inauguration date (which requires the signature of the Supreme Leader) has been postponed into an unknown date.
Yesterday, taking part in the official Quds Day demonstrations, right wing basijis shouted slogans at Rouhani, solgans such as “Rouhani, Banisadr, congratulations on your marriage”, and “death to the American clergy”, and attacked his car. This finally caused ordinary people to react the only way they could, on the social media.
People adopted the hashtag “We support Rouhani” [in Persian], and they tweeted it so many times that for three hours it was the worldwide number one trending hashtag. This sends the regime an unmistakable message that the vast majority of people still support for Rouhani.
Here are some of those tweets (the majority are in Persian, of course, but I have chosen some English ones addressed to the international society):
— Mahsa (@Mahsaarashloo) June 24, 2017
You're not alone Mr. President
Yesterday President rouhani was our voice, today we are his voice. Our Voice is loud & Clear. Respect democracy. #حامی_روحانی_ام
— hamid (@hamiltoton) June 23, 2017
The Iranian people will not allow the external and internal extremists to divert Iran from the path of development. #حامى_روحانى_ام
— نِگ نِگ (@negarensan67) June 23, 2017
— sara safaei (@safaeesara) June 23, 2017
— Ko Za (@KomyZaman) June 23, 2017
Among the middle east, we voted for the man who is going to open the world's doors to us. And he already did it.
— mohammad mortaji (@mortaji_s) June 23, 2017
Iran's democratically elected president is being pushed out by military forces and the supreme leader. #حامی_روحانی_ام
— بز(غاله) (@ehsanboz) June 23, 2017
Iranians Tweeting with #حامی_روحانی_ام hashtag are emphasizing once again their desire for moderation & rejecting hardliner hawkish policies
— Persian Banoo (@persianbanoo) June 23, 2017
Of course, I got in on the action too:
A man who saved us from the threat of war and economic collapse, is now facing the hardliners for a freer Iran. #حامی_روحانی_ام
— Kaveh Mousavi (@PatheosKaveh) June 23, 2017
So now the battle lines and the facts are clear. Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards have the guns and the repression apparatus, Rouhani has public support. They’re in open conflict in an unprecedented way and they show no sign of deescalating. What’s going to happen? Will the regime get fed up with Rouhani, or his public support is enough to deter such actions?
And another questions is, where the hell is the international media? Why no international outlet is covering this? Iran has disappeared from the headlines since the election, but the situation definitely merits coverage.