Rafsanjani's Moment

by Chris Bodenner

Abbas Milani previews his highly anticipated speech tomorrow:

The former president and speaker of the parliament has been a regular on the Friday circuit over the past 30 years, but has been eerily absent for more than two months. More crucially, though the reformist cleric has met with families of those arrested in recent weeks (an important symbolic act), his words since the controversial elections of June 12 have been characteristically ambiguous. This Friday is his hour of reckoning. Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mohammad Khatami have both announced that they will also attend the prayer, and have invited their supporters to do the same. The day has the potential of becoming yet another massive show of force by the opposition.

For at least four years, Rafsanjani has been unhappy about Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's inordinate power, the direction of the country, and Ahmadinejad's demagoguery--particularly spurred by his sharp attacks against the Rafsanjani family. In the weeks before the election, Rafsanjani clearly sided with the reformists and put his considerable assets--financial and political--in the service of Moussavi. Rafsanjani today must know what most Iranians know: Unless he stands up to this most recent power grab by the triumvirate of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and the Revolutionary Guards, he and his family will be next on the chopping block. Should he, on the other hand, be too defiant in his support for the opposition, he invites the wrath of the triumvirate. This Friday's sermon is thus shaping up as the most important in Rafsanjani's storied career.

Nico will be live-blogging the event for those interested.