Archive for June, 2009

Iran’s Election Drama More Elaborate Than You Think

June 29, 2009

The original article can be found at:

Iran’s Election Drama More Elaborate Than You Think
By Muhammad Sahimi, June 24, 2009

The world has been mesmerized by events in Iran over the past several weeks. First, there was a fierce presidential campaign that saw Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main reformist candidate, rise in the polls. Huge rallies were held around Iran to support his candidacy. For the first time since the 1979 Revolution, Iranians at home and abroad seemed to be united in their quest to oust President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

One hour after voting had ended on June 12, Iran’s Interior Ministry had called Mousavi’s headquarters to inform him that he was going to win, and that he should prepare his victory statement without boasting too much, in order not to upset Ahmadinejad’s supporters. But suddenly everything changed. Several commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRG) showed up at Mousavi’s headquarters and told him that his campaign was tantamount to a “velvet revolution,” which they would not allow to succeed. Then the results of the rigged election were announced, which started the protests that continue today.

But who is the real power behind Iran’s rigged presidential election, which has been called an “election coup” by a Mousavi spokesman? It is widely believed that, as the commander in chief of Iran’s armed forces, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the coup leader. But the issue is more complex.

Ever since he was appointed as the IRG’s top commander three years ago, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari has been talking about the “internal threat” to the Islamic Revolution. He has even reorganized the Guards for them to be better prepared for any uprising. Moreover, a few days before the June 12 elections, the IRG’s head of the political directorate, Brig. Gen. Yadollah Javani, accused Mousavi and other reformists of trying to start a color revolution (since Mousavi had used green as the symbol of its campaign), and warned that the Guards “will suffocate it before it is even born.” So the coup leaders are, in fact, the IRG’s top commanders. They represent the right wing of the second generation of Iranian revolutionaries.

The second-generation revolutionaries were in their twenties at the time of the Iranian revolution of 1978-1979. They joined the IRG almost immediately after the Revolution and fought two fierce wars in the 1980s: against Saddam Hussein’s forces, which had invaded Iran in September 1980, and against the forces of Mujahideen-e Khalq organization (MEK), an armed Islamic leftist group that had opposed the shah. After the MEK began assassinating Iran’s leaders in June 1981, the young revolutionaries waged a bloody battle against them, killing thousands, and forced the MEK into exile in Iraq, where it collaborated with Saddam Hussein. The MEK is now listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

Using the war with Iraq as the excuse, the young Islamic revolutionaries also helped their clerical leaders – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (who was elected Iran’s president for two terms from 1989-1997 and is still a powerful politician), Ayatollah Khamenei (who was Iran’s president in the 1980s), and others – to impose extreme political repression on Iran, one result of which was the effective elimination of all secular political groups from Iran’s political scene, a terrible blow to Iran’s political development.

The war with Iraq ended in July 1988. Many of the young Islamic revolutionaries either supported the execution of thousands of political prisoners in July-September 1988 or were silent and did not protest it. Then, Ayatollah Khomeini passed away in June 1989. That split the young revolutionaries into two camps.

In one camp were the Islamic leftists who believed that Iran needed a political opening to end the extreme repression of the 1980s. Many in this group were members of the intelligence apparatus and, therefore, were fully aware of what was going on in the society and sensed the danger of a social explosion and counterrevolution. They are now the leaders of the reform movement.

The young revolutionaries in the second camp were conservative. Some stayed with the IRG after the war, people like Gen. Jafari and Gen. Javani. Others, such as President Ahmadinejad, Interior Minister Sadegh Mahsouli, and his main deputy Kamran Daneshjou, who supervised the elections, joined the bureaucracy.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s death had another long-term consequence whose effect is felt today. It made it possible for a reactionary Islamic group to reemerge. The group, called the Hojjatiyeh Society, was founded in the 1950s and was fiercely opposed to the Bahai faith and the Sunni sect of Islam, and it even worked with the shah’s secret service to stymie the spread of Communism in Iran. It also opposed the 1979 Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini’s concept of Valaayat-e Faghih (governance of the Islamic jurist), the foundation of Iran’s constitution and political system. Ayatollah Khomeini banned the Hojjatiyeh in 1983 and famously said of them that “they cannot run even a bakery, let alone a country.”

After its reemergence in the early 1990, the name Hojjatiyeh was never used. Its members began advocating an Islamic government led by an unelected supreme leader, rather than an Islamic Republic. Their present leader is Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a hard-liner and reactionary cleric who has openly opposed any meaningful elections and is Ahmadinejad’s spiritual leader.

Ayatollah Mesbah, as he is called in Iran, once said, “It does not matter what people think. They are ignorant sheep.” He believes that the supreme leader is selected by God, and the task of the ayatollahs who are members of Iran’s Assembly of Experts (a constitutional body that chooses the supreme leader) is to discover him. Former reformist president Mohammad Khatami has referred to Ayatollah Mesbah’s followers as the “shallow-thinking traditionalists with Stone-Age backwardness.”

Ayatollah Mesbah’s disciples include Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehei, Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh (a senior aid to Ahmadinejad), and Ahmadinejad himself. In fact, all of Iran’s intelligence ministers since the Revolution have been Ayatollah Mesbah’s students in his seminary, the Haghani School in Qom. Many of the top commanders of the IRG are his followers. The Basij militia, a paramilitary group controlled by the IRG, has also been deeply penetrated by his disciples, as has the judiciary. Ever since he was elected president in 2005, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly used Ayatollah Mesbah’s term “Islamic government of Iran” rather than “Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Thus, the men behind the election coup are the second-generation revolutionaries whose spiritual leader is Ayatollah Mesbah. Two weeks before the elections Mesbah issued a secret fatwa – which was leaked by some in the Interior Ministry – authorizing the use of any means to reelect Ahmadinejad, hence giving the green light for rigging the elections.

But what are the goals of the coup? There appear to be three.

One is purging the old, first-generation revolutionary leaders, including the most important of them, the former president and powerful politician Rafsanjani. Ever since Ahmadinejad defeated him in the disputed 2005 presidential elections, he and his supporters have been bitter foes of Rafsanjani and his supporters. Rafsanjani has let it be known that he believes that Ahmadinejad is hurting Iran’s national interests with his foreign policy, rhetoric against Israel, and inflammatory statements about the Holocaust.

But the antagonism toward Rafsanjani has an economic dimension too. He and his family are fabulously rich and favor a modern economy. And just as Ahmadinejad has consolidated the IRG’s hold on Iran by appointing cabinet members, provincial governor-generals, and city mayors from the ranks of the IRG, he also wants to consolidate the IRG’s hold on Iran’s economy. Under him, the IRG has won more than $10 billion in contracts over the past four years. The IRG now wants to eliminate the competition from Rafsanjani and his supporters.

In his “victory” speech on Sunday June 14, Ahmadinejad never mentioned even once Ayatollah Khomeini or the Islamic Republic. Thus, just as Deng Xiaoping and his successors have kept Mao Zedong’s pictures everywhere and Joseph Stalin kept Lenin’s pictures everywhere while acting against what Mao and Lenin advocated, Iran’s second-generation revolutionaries will keep Ayatollah Khomeini’s pictures everywhere (as well as Khamenei’s) while acting against his teachings, including his most famous saying, “The scale [for people’s acceptance of a politician] is the people’s vote.”

The second goal of the coup is moving the country toward an Islamic government by making the elections a meaningless process that can be easily rigged or manipulated, which will destroy the republican aspect of Iran’s political system This is recognized by the reformists, and indeed the great majority of the Iranian people, which is why they are resisting the rigged elections. Their resistance is not what the coup leaders expected.

The third goal is to start the preparation for the eventual replacement of Ayatollah Khamenei, who is known to be ill, by someone they trust. Rafsanjani chairs the Assembly of Experts that selects the supreme leader. Given his important role in the Revolution and his influence, Rafsanjani will play a crucial role in the succession process. Thus, if he can be eliminated, it will pave the way for Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, or one of his disciples, to become the supreme leader.

Thus, this is a pivotal moment in Iran’s contemporary history, and indeed the Middle East’s. If the second-generation revolutionaries succeed, Iran will enter a period of extreme political repression, which will make it easier for the War Party and the Israel lobby to try to convince the public that Iran’s nuclear program must be handled through military attacks.

If, on the other hand, the protests succeed in turning back the rigged elections, the reformists and democratic groups will have a golden opportunity to move Iran much faster toward a democratic political system, which will be crucial to the stability of the Middle East.


Evaluating Western media coverage of Iran’s elections

June 29, 2009

Here in an interesting take on the Iranian elections. It’s good to look at both sides.

By Sara Khorshid

“I am not sure what I think about events that appear in Western media to be an uprising against the Islamic Revolution. My common sense tells me that it’s not unusual for defeated oppositions to express objection over elections’ results; it happens in many elections, in both democratic and undemocratic countries.

Over the past few decades, Iranian elections have been known to be “fair”.

Despite the limitations imposed by the system when it comes to running for parliamentary and presidential elections, we generally feel that those who manage to make it to official candidacy do contest in fair elections.

Yes, there is a possibility of widespread fraud or inaccuracy, but there is no hard evidence that this is the case yet, and it doesn’t entail Western hailing of the losing candidate Mir Houssein Mousavi as a victim of conspiracy.

That masses are rallying to support Mousavi doesn’t necessarily mean he is the most popular Iranian leader, or that his rights have been infringed upon by the incumbent president Mahmud Ahmadinejad and the conservatives of Iran. Ahmadinejad too has had thousands rally for him on different occasions.”

The full article can be found at:

Protesters Break into Sweden’s Iranian Embassy

June 26, 2009

From today’s Washington Post

“Angry demonstrators broke into the Iranian Embassy outside Stockholm on Friday, climbing in through shattered windows and injuring one embassy worker, police said.

More than 150 people had gathered outside the embassy to protest against the Iranian regime, when some of them attacked the building with rocks and tore down a fence to enter the embassy grounds, police spokesman Ulf Hoglund said.”

Interview With Doctor Helping Neda

June 26, 2009
BBC interview with Dr. Hejazi who tried to help Neda after she was shot in the chest.

Dr Hejazi said he saw Ms Soltan, who he did not know, with an older man who he thought was her father but later on learned was her music teacher.

“Suddenly everything turned crazy. The police threw teargas and the motorcycles started rushing towards the crowd. We ran to an intersection and people were just standing. They didn’t know what to do.

“We heard a gunshot. Neda was standing one metre away from me. I turned back and I saw blood gushing out of Neda’s chest.

“She was in a shocked situation, just looking at her chest. Then she lost her control.

“We ran to her and lay her on the ground. I saw the bullet wound just below the neck with blood gushing out.

“I have never seen such a thing because the bullet, it seemed to have blasted inside her chest, and later on, blood exiting from her mouth and nose.

Behind the Scenes

June 26, 2009

Section of article entitled, “Iran’s Election Drama More Elaborate than you Think,” by Muhammad Sahimi.

“Ayatollah Khomeini’s death had another long-term consequence whose effect is felt today. It made it possible for a reactionary Islamic group to reemerge. The group, called the Hojjatiyeh Society, was founded in the 1950s and was fiercely opposed to the Bahai faith and the Sunni sect of Islam, and it even worked with the shah’s secret service to stymie the spread of Communism in Iran. It also opposed the 1979 Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini’s concept of Valaayat-e Faghih (governance of the Islamic jurist), the foundation of Iran’s constitution and political system. Ayatollah Khomeini banned the Hojjatiyeh in 1983 and famously said of them that ‘they cannot run even a bakery, let alone a country.’

After its reemergence in the early 1990, the name Hojjatiyeh was never used. Its members began advocating an Islamic government led by an unelected supreme leader, rather than an Islamic Republic. Their present leader is Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a hard-liner and reactionary cleric who has openly opposed any meaningful elections and is Ahmadi-nejad’s spiritual leader.

Ayatollah Mesbah, as he is called in Iran, once said, ‘It does not matter what people think. They are ignorant sheep.’ He believes that the supreme leader is selected by God, and the task of the ayatollahs who are members of Iran’s Assembly of Experts (a constitutional body that chooses the supreme leader) is to discover him. Former reformist president Mohammad Khatami has referred to Ayatollah Mesbah’s followers as the ‘shallow-thinking traditionalists with Stone-Age backwardness.'”

Nokia Siemens Network Sold to Iran to Spy on Iranians

June 25, 2009

The Nokia Siemens Network sold to Iran allows the Iranian regime to not only spy on Iranian’s emails and cell phone calls and texts, but some argue it also allows the regime to alter the text in text messages and email messages, and other reports say the regime has changed email messages calling for demonstrations to foil protest plans. Anyone concerned should write to the companies.

Montazeri Calls for Three Days of Mourning

June 23, 2009

Ayatollah Montazeri has called for three days of mourning for martyred Iranians beginning Wednesday and ending Friday. According to Islam, the 3rd, 7th and 40th days after a death must be observed as part of the Muslim religion. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenehi has basically declared this illegal and ordered the mosques and police not to allow mourners in, but this is essentially going against the same religion he claims to be the representative of in Iran. In addition, there are reports that Iranian police go home at night, change into civilian clothes and join the protests. A break within the military and police force is a big sign of change to come.

In Iran, One Woman’s Death May Have Many Consequences

June 22, 2009

In Iran, One Woman’s Death May Have Many Consequences
By Robin Wright Sunday, Jun. 21, 2009

Iran’s revolution has now run through a full cycle. A gruesomely captivating video of a young woman — laid out on a Tehran street after apparently being shot, blood pouring from her mouth and then across her face — swept Twitter, Facebook and other websites this weekend. The woman rapidly became a symbol of Iran’s escalating crisis, from a political confrontation to far more ominous physical clashes. Some sites refer to the woman as Neda, Farsi for “the voice” or “the call.” Tributes that incorporate startlingly up-close footage of her dying have started to spring up on YouTube.

Although it is not yet clear who shot Neda (a soldier? a pro-government militant? an accidental misfiring?), her death may have changed everything. The cycles of mourning in Shi’ite Islam actually provide a schedule for political combat — a way to generate or revive momentum. Shi’ite Muslims mourn their dead on the third, seventh and 40th days after a death, and these commemorations are a pivotal part of Iran’s rich history. During the revolution, the pattern of confrontations between the Shah’s security forces and the revolutionaries often played out in 40-day cycles.
(See pictures of violence used as intimidation in Iran.)

The first clashes in January 1978 produced two deaths that were then commemorated on the 40th day in mass gatherings, which in turn produced new confrontations with security forces — and new deaths. Those deaths then generated another 40-day period of mourning, new clashes and further deaths. The cycle continued throughout most of the year until the Shah’s ouster in January 1979.

The same cycle has already become an undercurrent in Iran’s current crisis. The largest demonstration, on June 18, was called by opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi to commemorate the deaths of protesters three days after they were killed.

Shi’ite mourning is not simply a time to react with sadness. Particularly in times of conflict, it is also an opportunity for renewal. The commemorations for Neda and the others killed this weekend are still to come. And the 40th-day events are usually the largest and most important.

Neda is already being hailed as a martyr, a second important concept in Shi’ism. With the reported deaths of 19 people on June 20, martyrdom provides a potent force that could further deepen public anger at Iran’s regime.
(See the top 10 players in Iran’s power struggle.)

The belief in martyrdom is central to modern politics as well as Shi’ite tradition dating back centuries in Iran. It, too, helped propel the 1979 revolution. It sustained Iran during the eight-year war with Iraq, when more than 120,000 Iranians died in the bloodiest modern Middle East conflict. Most major Iranian cities have a martyrs’ museum or a martyrs’ cemetery.

The first Shi’ite martyr was Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. He believed it was better to die fighting injustice than to live with injustice under what he believed was illegitimate rule.

In the 7th century, Hussein and a band of fewer than 100 people, including women and children, took on the mighty Umayyad dynasty in Karbala, an ancient city in Mesopotamia now in modern-day Iraq. They knew they would be massacred.

Fourteen centuries later, Hussein’s tomb in Karbala is one of the two holiest Shi’ite shrines — millions of Iranians make pilgrimages there every year. Just as Christians re-enact Jesus’ procession bearing the cross past the 14 stops to Calvary before his crucifixion, so, too, do Shi’ites every year re-enact Hussein’s martyrdom in an Islamic passion play during the holy period of Ashura.

Because of Hussein, revolt against tyranny became part of Shi’ite tradition. Indeed, protest and martyrdom are widely considered duties to God. And nowhere is the practice more honored than in Iran, the world’s largest Shi’ite country.

The revolutionaries exploited the deep passion of martyrdom as well as the timetable of Shi’ite mourning in whipping up greater opposition to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. With the deaths of Neda and others, they may now find the same phenomena used against them.,8599,1906049,00.html

Iran’s Children of Tomorrow-Roger Cohen-NYT

June 22, 2009

“I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…”

This is a quote from Roger Cohen’s article entitled, “Iran’s Children of Tomorrow” in today’s New York Times.

Council of Guardians Admits 3 Million Vote Discrepancy

June 22, 2009

Iranian Guards Issue Warning as Vote Errors Are Admitted-New York Times Article

Published: June 22, 2009
TEHRAN — Threatening to crush dissent, the powerful Revolutionary Guards warned protesters Monday that they would face a “revolutionary confrontation” if they returned to the streets to challenge the presidential election results in defiance of the country’s leadership.

Within hours of the warning, several hundred protesters — far fewer than in mass rallies last week — gathered in central Tehran, and police used tear gas and fired into the air to disperse them, news agencies reported.

“There is a massive, massive, massive police presence,” to head off any attempt to demonstrate, The Associated Press quoted a witness in Tehran as saying.

The warning, on the Guards’ Web site, was issued despite an admission by Iran’s most senior panel of election monitors that the number of votes cast in 50 cities exceeded the actual number of voters, according to a state television report two days after the country’s supreme leader pronounced the ballot to be fair.

The discrepancies, the most sweeping acknowledged so far by the authorities, could affect some three million ballots of what the government says was 40 million cast, giving the victory to President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad.

But the authorities insisted that the discrepancies did not violate Iranian law. The Guardian Council, charged with certifying the election, said it was not clear whether they would decisively change the result.

A Revolutionary Guards statement Monday told protesters who took to the streets in a week of demonstrations to “be prepared for a resolution and revolutionary confrontation with the Guards, Basij and other security forces and disciplinary forces” if they continued their protests, news reports said.

The Basij is a militia accused by the protesters of brutally repressing demonstrations that culminated in a day of bloodshed on Saturday.

Their leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi — who contends the June 12 election was stolen from him — has urged the protesters to continue their defiance, but he could face arrest for doing so.

“Moussavi’s calling for illegal protests and issuing provocative statements have been a source of recent unrests in Iran,” Ali Shahrokhi, head of parliament’s judiciary committee, semi-official Fars news agency reported, according to Reuters. “Such criminal acts should be confronted firmly.”

He added: “The ground is paved to legally chase Moussavi.”

Mr. Moussavi, the more moderate of the candidates, used a posting on his Web site Sunday night to call on own supporters to demonstrate peacefully despite warnings from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that no protests of the vote would be allowed.

“Protesting to lies and fraud is your right,” Mr. Moussavi said.

In an apparent response, the Revolutionary Guards told demonstrators Monday to “end the sabotage and rioting activities,” calling their protests a “conspiracy” against Iran. The warning echoed remarks by a Foreign Ministry spokesman who blamed western governments and media for the disturbances.

Britain’s Foreign Office said Monday that it would evacuate the families of staff members based in Iran because of the continuing unrest.

The official result gave Mr. Ahmadinejad 63 percent of the ballots — an 11-million vote advantage — to Mr. Moussavi’s 34 percent. Turnout was put at 85 percent.

At a news conference Monday, Hassan Qashqavi, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, called the turnout a “brilliant gem which is shining on the peak of dignity of the Iranian nation.”

He accused unidentified western powers and news organizations, which are operating under extremely tight official restrictions, of spreading unacceptable “anarchy and vandalism.” But, he said, the outcome of the vote would not be changed. “We will not allow western media to turn this gem into a worthless stone,” he said.

Mr. Qashqavi drew comparisons with American election results.

“No one encouraged the American people to stage a riot” because they disagreed with the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004, he said. Quoted earlier by Press TV, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, the spokesman for the 12-member Guardian Council denied claims by another losing candidate, Mohsen Rezai, that irregularities had occurred in up to 170 voting districts.

“Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100 percent of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80 to 170 cities are not accurate — the incident has happened in only 50 cities,” Mr. Kadkhodaei said.

But he said that a voter turnout in excess of the registered voting list was a “normal phenomenon” because people could legally vote in areas other than those in which they were registered. Nonetheless, some analysts in Tehran said, the number of people said to be traveling on election day seemed unusually high.

The news emerged on the English-language Press TV Web site late Sunday as a bitter rift among Iran’s ruling clerics deepened. As increasingly violent protests have swirled through Tehran since the elections, Ayatollah Khamenei has ordered the Guardian Council to investigate the opposition’s allegations of electoral fraud. The council itself has offered a random partial recount of 10 percent of the ballot.

Mr. Kadkhodaei said the Guardian Council could recount votes in areas where irregularities were said by the opposition to have occurred. But “it has yet to be determined whether the possible change in the tally is decisive in the election results.”

The opposition has alleged a total of 646 electoral irregularities and is demanding that the vote be annulled. But in a sermon at Friday prayers last week Ayatollah Khamenei mocked the idea that the huge margin attributed to Mr. Ahmadinejad could have been won through fraud.

On Sunday, the police detained five relatives of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who leads two influential councils and openly supported Mr. Moussavi’s election. The relatives, including Mr. Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, were released after several hours.

The developments, coming one day after protests here in the capital and elsewhere were crushed by police officers and militia members using guns, clubs, tear gas and water cannons, suggested that Ayatollah Khamenei was facing entrenched resistance among some members of the elite.

Though rivalries have been part of Iranian politics since the 1979 revolution, analysts said that open factional competition amid a major political crisis could hinder Ayatollah Khamenei’s ability to restore order.

There was no verifiable accounting of the death toll from the bloodshed on Saturday, partly because the government has imposed severe restrictions on news coverage and warned foreign reporters who remained in the country to stay off the streets.

It also ordered the BBC’s longtime correspondent expelled and Newsweek’s correspondent detained.

State television said that 10 people had died in the weekend clashes, while radio reports said 19. The news agency ISNA said 457 people had been arrested.

In the network of Internet postings and Twitter messages that has become the opposition’s major tool for organizing and sharing information, a powerful and vivid new image emerged: a video posted on several Web sites that showed a young woman, called Neda, her face covered in blood. Text posted with the video said she had been shot. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the video.

The Web site of another reformist candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, referred to her as a martyr who did not “have a weapon in her soft hands or a grenade in her pocket but became a victim by thugs who are supported by a horrifying security apparatus.”

Mr. Moussavi was not seen in public on Sunday but showed no sign of yielding. In his Web posting, he urged followers to “avoid violence in your protest and behave as though you are the parents that have to tolerate your children’s misbehavior at the security forces.”

He also warned the government to “avoid mass arrests, which will only create distance between society and the security forces.”

The moves against members of Mr. Rafsanjani’s family were seen as an attempt to pressure him to drop his challenge to Ayatollah Khamenei — pressure that Mr. Rafsanjani’s son, Mehdi Rafsanjani, said he would reject.

Mr. Rafsanjani was deeply critical of Mr. Ahmadinejad during the presidential campaign, and is thought to have had a strained relationship with Ayatollah Khamenei for many years.

But he remains a major establishment figure, and the detention of his daughter, albeit briefly, was a surprise. In Ayatollah Khamenei’s sermon on Friday, in which he backed Mr. Ahmadinejad and threatened a crackdown on further protests, he praised Mr. Rafsanjani as a pillar of the revolution while acknowledging that the two have had “many differences of opinion.”

Mr. Rafsanjani, 75, heads two powerful institutions. One, the Assembly of Experts, is a body of clerics that has the authority to oversee and theoretically replace the country’s supreme leader. He also runs the Expediency Council, empowered to settle disagreements between the elected Parliament and the unelected Guardian Council.

The Assembly of Experts has never publicly exercised its power over Ayatollah Khamenei since he succeeded the Islamic Revolution’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989. But the increasingly bitter confrontation between Ayatollah Khamenei and Mr. Rafsanjani has raised the prospect of a contest of political wills between the two revolutionary veterans.

Iran’s Air Force, meanwhile, will start exercises on Monday in the Gulf and the Sea of Oman in order to raise “its operational and support capability,” the official news agency IRNA said. The plans had been announced earlier.