Enduring America is stunned:
Before today, I had said that this trial would be an important signal: if the regime (read Ahmadinejad and Revolutionary Guard — the Supreme Leader’s position in all this is uncertain) had wanted compromise, then this would be a relatively low-profile occasion, having been delayed from last week; if it wanted confrontation, then it would put leading reformists like Saeed Hajjarian in the dock.
So when the regime played its first card today, prosecuting not only Hajjarian but all the leading reformist politicians and associates of former President Khatami, it threw down the challenge: We’re Going to Break You.
Then, however, the Ahmadinejad wing of the Government had a surprise. It is now declaring that it is time for Hashemi Rafsanjani to go into his box and, more than a month after the dramatic Friday prayers that challenged the President, be quiet. Frankly, the allegations against Rafsanjani family members were so stunning that I did not trust my translation. But there is no mistake: as one of my EA colleagues predicted in late July, the regime would get at the former President by attacking his family.
According to PressTV, one of the defendants in today’s trial says Rafsanjani’s son asked him to embezzle government funds for his father’s election campaign in 2005. The allegation seems to be an attempt by the government to turn up the heat on the opposition, which Rafsanjani has supported.
So despite Ahmadinejad’s attempts to put on a friendlier face in recent days, it’s clear that it’s nothing more than window dressing. Ahmadinejad is trying to associate himself with the representatives of Iran’s religious minorities, allowed greater access at nuclear facilities, and has taken care to explain what wonderful people his cabinet nominees are. But beneath it all, the government has made surprisingly few actual concessions, and remains as hard-edged as ever in maintaining its tight grip on power.