Iran: Soldiers ready to die, Velayat-e Faqi, 18 Tir – History Repeats, Death in the Dorms, & more

1. Talking as if Iran is approaching a civil war: “Gen. Sayyed Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of Iran’s Joint Armed Forces, said Iranian soldiers were willing to die as they did in the brutal eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, according to the state-run Fars News Agency. ‘Some may think that by protesting and chanting their slogans against us, we will back down, retreat and give up,” Firouzabadi said. “We are ready to sacrifice our lives, as we showed during the time of the Sacred Defense [the Iran-Iraq war].'”

2. The Issue of the Velayat-e Faqi Comes to the Forefront: The debate over velayat-e faqih has reemerged as the central issue in Iran. Today, even as the Revolutionary Guard–the Praetorian Guard founded by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 to defend the clerical regime–is asserting its control over the streets of Tehran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei’s impatience in handling the election may ultimately cost the regime its legitimacy. A central figure in the debate over velayat-e faqih will be the leading protégé of Ayatollah Khoi, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Iranian cleric who is demonstrating the principals of his mentor in his patient oversight of civil society and the emerging democracy in Iraq. For Iranians in the streets, as well as clerics in the holy city of Qom, Sistani is among the most revered religious figures, and a cleric of greater authority and stature than Ali Khamenei himself. The irony is that none of the leading actors in the Iranian drama, Mousavi, Karroubi, Rafsanjani, Larijani or Khatami have identified themselves with Sistani or opposition to the existing order of clerical dominion over civil society. They are each products of the existing system. And yet the principle of velayat-e faqih is what is at stake and will emerge as the issue at hand.

3. History Repeats: Iran Uprising’s 10th Anniversary: See the al-Jazeera video here.

4. Ahmadinejad trying to deflect attention away from Iran: “This heartfelt incident of el-Sherbini’s martyrdom is a clear evidence of corruption in German judiciary system and a disgrace to the United Nations,’ Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday. He slammed the violation of human rights in Germany, saying, ‘The attitude of Germany and most of Western countries to her killing is similar to their stance on the massacre of innocent Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.’

5. Protests blocking Iran’s regional and international efforts: “The consequences of the protests will be felt for months or even years to come, and are likely to put a temporary cap on Iran’s regional reach, while limiting dialogue with the US… With Iran so focused on affairs at home, it is unlikely that there will be any significant changes soon to foreign policy – whether a new nuclear policy or responding to Obama’s overtures – apart from blaming the US and the West for all the violence.”

6. Iason Athanasiadis, a foreign journalist and an acquaintance of mine from Harvard speaks to al-Jazeera English about his detainment in Iran: See the very interesting video here.

7. Death in the Dorms: Iranian Students Recall Horror of Police Invasion: “Under Iranian law, police, revolutionary guards and other militia are not allowed to enter universities – a legacy of the 1999 student riots. Until last month those riots were the most serious unrest the country had seen since the Islamic revolution. But with the country convulsed by protests at the 12 June elections, there was no holding back that Sunday night. ‘The police threw teargas into the dorms, beat us, broke the windows and forced us to lie on the ground,’ one student recalled. ‘I had not even been protesting but one of them jumped on me, sat on my back and beat me. And then, while pretending to search me for guns or knives, he abused me sexually. They were threatening to hang us and rape us.'”

8. Joan Baez sings in Santa Monica on July 9th in solidarity with Iranian protesters: See the video here.

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