Some of Iran's relatively moderate political figures seem to be advising the government to find ways to end political deadlock and the dangerous popular uprising.
Nationwide protests have continued for seven weeks and have escalated in recent days as security forces have killed more people and the opposition in the streets has become more determined to overthrow the Islamic Republic’s clerical-military regime.
Former Majles speaker, now a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said that "the government in Tehran badly needs to listen to the other side." Larijani advised the government to consider the fact that "Perhaps the other side is also partly right."
Nonetheless, while the statement signals a sign of rationality, Larijani's next comment shows that like Khamenei he also believes that "enemies" are behind the uprising: "The enemy has targeted Iran as a whole," he said.
Larijani charged, "In a neighboring country, the Americans are openly telling Iran's counter-revolutionaries to be active and exert pressure on Tehran." However, he did not name that country. It is also possible that Larijani is repeating Khamenei’s conspiracy theories as a shield for himself, not to be labelled disloyal by the Supreme Leader’s hardliner supporters.
An undated photo of Ali Larijani with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
Referring implicitly to some rude slogans chanted by Iranian protesters against Khamenei, Larijani said: Some of the things we have done in the area of politics has left an impact on our social behavior. He was probably referring to badmouthing, vile accusations, arrogance and unilateralism that have become part of the usual practice among Iran's conservatives.
In another development, former Vice President Massoumeh Ebtekar, also known as Niloofar, one of the "students" that occupied the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 54 US diplomats hostage for 444 days and is known to former US hostages in Iran as Sister Mary, offered her ways out of the current deadlock in a tweet on November 3: "The best way to end this cycle of violence is to stop arresting protesters, listening to their demands, acknowledging that there are problems in the society, restoring justice, respecting Iranian men and women's freedom, making the government accountable, holding effective dialogues with the people, furthering all-encompassing reforms, restoring the people's trust in the government and seeking their political participation in determining their own fate."
Ebtekar during the US hostage taking in 1979 and now
That is a pretty tall order that Iran’s reformists have pursued for a quarter of a century, only to see more repression and bad governance.
Ebtekar who seems to have been moved by the violence Iranians witnessed during the protests on November 2, particularly in Karaj near Tehran where at least two security officers were reportedly killed and many others wounded, advised the government to take measures sooner rather than later, because "It will be too late. Seize the opportunity while it lasts," she wrote.
On the contrary, referring to the same violent events, ultraconservative lawmaker Ahmad Naderi wrote in a November 3 tweet: "What happened in Karaj was not a protest. It was a security crisis. The level of confrontation by the security forces should be proportional to the protests, riots, mutiny, and terror. There is no room for appeasement."
Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of Kayhan daily, which operates under the supervision of Ali Khamenei, Friday also called for harsher crackdown on dissent.
Reformist analyst Mohammad Reza Tajik has opined on Saturday that "The uprising by the Iranian people marks the violent return of a suppressed right to protest, as if we are facing a revolt for restoring the activism right that was in chains for a long time."