Ahmadinejad is prosecuting political rivals.
This isn't something done in a regime based on democracy, or even a veneer of democracy. It's all about consolidating power and eliminating rivals who threaten that power.
Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke in front of thousands of government supporters gathered in a covered arena at Tehran University. The president appeared unafraid to effectively contradict the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who on Wednesday said he was not convinced that reform leaders had conspired in advance with foreign forces to orchestrate the post-election unrest. The supreme leader did, however, stick by the government’s claim that the protests were planned.Indeed, the tent of insiders is now focused on two thugs - Khamenei and Ahamdinejad. Everyone else either kowtows to those two, toes their line, or is seen as an outsider, even when the opponents are no less strident on matters of Iranian foreign policy than Ahmadinejad or Khamenei:
If Ayatollah Khamenei was hoping to blunt calls for revenge, more arrests and severe punishment, Mr. Ahmadinejad showed no signs of softening.
“We must deal with those who led these events,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. “Those who organized, incited and pursued the plans of the enemies must be dealt with decisively.”
Even before the current crisis, Iranian politics had competing power centers. But all such groups had their place within the Islamic republic, even if they had different ideas about government powers and priorities. Political analysts say that what is different now is that President Ahmadinejad is trying to transform his rivals into outsiders, shrinking the circle of those who have a voice and role in the system to a minimum.
“What has been remarkable about the last two months is that the tent of insiders has narrowed to such a small faction,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “The outsiders are the vast majority of the country.”
His remarks were clearly aimed at Mir Hussein Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi, Mohammad Khatami, and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani — some of the most important and influential figures in the Islamic republic’s 30-year history — whom the president has wanted to jail as enemies of the state.Meanwhile, Khamenei must realize that claims that the demonstrations were the result of foreign agents isn't sitting well with Iranians who have seen their rights stripped from them, and is trying to walk back from earlier statements.
“Serious confrontation has to be against the leaders and key elements, against those who organized and provoked and carried out the enemy’s plan,” he was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “They have to be dealt with seriously.”
Mr. Khatami, a former two-term president and reform leader, blasted Mr. Ahmadinejad in a statement issued on his Web site the night before, sharply criticizing the government crackdown and what he called “these so-called trials,” which have been held for the dozens of intellectuals, former officials and journalists arrested since the election conflict began.
Video confessions are backfiring, primarily because they show that the regime is engaging in methods that result in serious weight loss - torture, withholding of food, etc. Reports of rape are also being made. The show trials are exposing the regime's barbaric methods to lay claim the levers of power.