Iran is the leader of the Islamist terror network world-wide, the funder and backer of Hizb'allah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and other unsavory groups, and a budding nuclear power led by fanatical, messianic leaders longing to bring on an Islamic Armageddon. The recent uprising there could change all that, making this one of the biggest stories related to the security of Israel, and the entire Western World, in a long time.
Iran's government said Sunday it arrested the daughter and four other relatives of ...Rafsanjani, one of the country's most powerful men, in a move that exposed a rift among the ruling Islamic clerics over the disputed presidential election.
State-run Press TV reported that Rafsanjani's eldest daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, and four other unidentified family members were arrested late Saturday. On Sunday evening, it said the four others had been released but that Hashemi remained in detention.
Last week, state television showed images of Hashemi, 46, speaking to hundreds of supporters of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. He alleges fraud in the June 12 election, which the government said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won.
The arrests are the strongest sign yet of a serious divide among Iran's ruling clerics.
Rafsanjani, 75, heads two powerful institutions. One of them, the cleric-run Assembly of Experts, has the power to monitor and remove the supreme leader, the country's most powerful figure. The second is the Expediency Council, a body that arbitrates disputes between parliament and the unelected Guardian Council, which can block legislation.
The assembly has never publicly reprimanded the unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei since he succeeded Islamic Revolution founder Aytollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989. But the current crisis has rattled the once-untouchable stature of the supreme leader with protesters openly defying his orders to leave the streets.
Underscoring how the protesters have become emboldened despite the regime's repeated and ominous warnings, witnesses said some shouted "Death to Khamenei!" at Saturday's demonstrations — another sign of once unthinkable challenges to the virtually limitless authority of the supreme leader.
Rafsanjani was deeply critical of Ahmadinejad during the presidential campaign and has the potential to lead an internal challenge to Khamenei...
Iran's regime continued to impose a blackout on the most serious internal conflict since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
But fresh images and allegations of brutality emerged as Iranians at home and abroad sought to shed light on a week of astonishing resistance to hard-line Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.
The New-York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said scores of injured demonstrators who had sought medical treatment after Saturday's clashes were arrested by security forces at hospitals in the capital...
Thousands of supporters of Mousavi, who claims he won the election, squared off Saturday against security forces in a dramatic show of defiance of Khamenei...
Saturday's unrest came a day after Khamenei sternly warned Mousavi and his backers to all off demonstrations or risk being held responsible for "bloodshed, violence and rioting." Delivering a sermon at Friday prayers attended by tens of thousands, Khamenei sided firmly with Ahmadinejad, calling the result "an absolute victory" that reflected popular will and ordering opposition leaders to end their street protests.
The Iranian police commander, in green uniform, walked up Komak Hospital Alley with arms raised and his small unit at his side. “I swear to God,” he shouted at the protesters facing him, “I have children, I have a wife, I don’t want to beat people. Please go home.”
A man... threw a rock at him. The commander, unflinching, continued to plead. There were chants of “Join us! Join us!” The unit retreated toward Revolution Street, where vast crowds eddied back and forth confronted by baton-wielding Basij militia and black-clad riot police officers on motorbikes.
The taboo-breaking response was unequivocal. It’s funny how people’s obsessions come back to bite them. I’ve been hearing about Khamenei’s fear of “velvet revolutions” for months now. There was nothing velvet about Saturday’s clashes. In fact, the initial quest to have Moussavi’s votes properly counted and Ahmadinejad unseated has shifted to a broader confrontation with the regime itself.
Garbage burned. Crowds bayed. Smoke from tear gas swirled. Hurled bricks sent phalanxes of police, some with automatic rifles, into retreat to the accompaniment of cheers. Early afternoon rumors that the rally for Moussavi had been canceled yielded to the reality of violent confrontation.
I don’t know where this uprising is leading. I do know some police units are wavering. That commander talking about his family was not alone. There were other policemen complaining about the unruly Basijis. Some security forces just stood and watched. “All together, all together, don’t be scared,” the crowd shouted.
Iranian state television on Sunday brought the official confirmed death toll to twenty, when it reported that 13 people were killed in violent clashes between police and what they call "terrorist groups." Seven deaths were confirmed last week.
The report did not specify how the deaths occurred...
CNN reported that at least 19 people were killed on Saturday based on eyewitness accounts of medical officials in Teheran's hospitals. CNN also quoted unconfirmed reports that put the actual death toll at 150.