Could This Be A Tipping Point?

Clashes Erupt at Reformist Cleric’s Funeral

Hundreds of thousands of Iranian mourners, including opposition leaders and influential senior clerics, attended the funeral of the country’s top dissident cleric in the holy city of Qom on Monday, turning the event into one of the largest antiregime protests the city has seen in three decades.

The funeral procession of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, one of the regime’s harshest critics, began peacefully. But opposition protesters used the charged event to chant against Iran’s leaders, and security forces and riot police responded by attacking mourners with shoes, stones and tear gas, according to news reports and videos circulating on the Internet.

On Sunday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a condolence message for the deceased cleric, a founding architect of the Islamic Republic, who fell out with the regime in the late 1980s. Mr. Khamenei offered his regrets but pointed out that Mr. Montazeri had strayed from the ideals of the 1979 revolution.

When the message was read to mourners in Qom on Monday, many jumped up and down, booing and screaming “Khamenei is a murderer. His leadership is finished,” according to videos posted to opposition Web sites and to YouTube.

By nightfall, Mr. Montazeri’s house was under siege by security services, his son Ahmad told the BBC’s Farsi-language service. Mr. Montazeri’s family canceled a memorial service planned that evening at a mosque in Qom, according to a statement issued by his son and posted on opposition Web sites.

“We received word that Basij and Revolutionary Guards have entered the mosque and are waiting for us with batons,” Ahmad Montazeri wrote.

Authorities have banned press coverage of the event. Iranian Web sites that posted accounts have reported reliably on protests in the past, and videos posted on YouTube match their accounts.

The BBC’s Persian service, a source of news for many Iranians, was jammed Sunday, knocking it off air inside Iran, the British Broadcasting Corp. said.

Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, as well as Mr. Khamenei’s brother, Hadi, who is also a critic of the regime, attended the funeral.

Mr. Mousavi’s Web site, Kalameh, reported that his car came under attack on his return trip to Tehran, and a bodyguard was injured, but Mr. Mousavi was unharmed.

The opposition called for the grand ayatollahs of Qom, Iran’s highest clerical officials, to call for a national day of mourning Tuesday to protest what the opposition called the insulting way the government security forces treated mourners in Qom.

Qom serves as the spiritual capital of Iran’s ruling clerics. A dusty city in the desert plains south of Tehran, it is dotted with turquoise minarets and golden domes, and has been instrumental in shaping Iran’s politics for the past century.

Analysts said Monday’s massive protests in Qom and the presence of high-profile grand ayatollahs in the funeral ceremonies elevated the opposition’s profile, further denting the credibility of Mr. Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Mr. Khamenei’s legitimacy was questioned in Qom today, and that is a significant blow to the regime. It will be extremely hard to recover from this,” said Mohamad Javad Akbarein, a former cleric from Qom and a Shiite scholar now living in Beirut.

Mr. Montazeri was once in line to succeed the founder of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as supreme leader. But he fell out with the regime and became one of its highest-profile critics. In recent months, a protest movement ignited by contested June 12 elections adopted the frail cleric as its spiritual leader.

Opposition leaders, including Messrs. Mousavi and Karroubi and their supporters, accused Mr. Ahmadinejad of stealing the June vote, which the government denies. Over months of protests since, demonstrations have veered from protesting the elections and its results to denouncing the regime itself.

See also:
Iranian Mourners Swarm Qom for Montazeri’s Funeral
Report: Large turnout for Iran cleric’s funeral
Protests mark funeral of Hossein Ali Montazeri
Iran’s Ayatollah Montazeri buried in Qom amid protests
Iran: ‘clashes’ at Montazeri funeral
Iran funeral ends with anti-govt slogans -website
Popular dissident Hossein Ali Montazeri mourned in Iran
Iran’s Mousavi In Qom For Cleric’s Funeral – Website
Mousavi Motorcade Attacked Amid Iran Clashes
Some Iranians Arrested on Way to Funeral – Website
YouTube Offers Glimpse of Funeral Scene in Qom
IRAN: Video of dissident cleric’s funeral ceremony
Filling Montazeri’s shoes in Iran
The Conservative Dissident: Hosein-Ali Montazeri
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, R.I.P.
Death of a cleric, but not of a movement
Iran: What the death of dissident cleric Montazeri means for opposition
Iran opposition energized by Montazeri funeral in Qom, say eyewitnesses
The Difference One Ayatollah Might Make
The Peoples’ Revolt in Iran

/let’s hope someone in the Obama administration is paying attention, we should be actively supporting the Iranian opposition, it’s a much better option than a military strike

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All Your Iranian Nuclear Scientists Are Belong To US

What’s the matter Mahmoud, did you lose some nuclear scientists? Bummer, little dude.

Where did two Iran nuclear scientists disappear to?

Two Iranian nuclear scientists disappeared over the past weeks and allegedly defected to the West, the London-based pan-Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat reported.

According to the report, the first defector is Sharam Amiri, a scientist in Iran’s nuclear program who was likely tied to the recently discovered secret uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.

Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia in July while he was on the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Defection speculations have been gaining popularity in light of an announcement made by Iran’s foreign ministry that it had asked Saudi officials to help locate Amiri. This announcement is unusual because many Iranians go missing during the annual hajj pilgrimage, and in those cases, not only is there no foreign ministry announcement, usually there is no effort made to locate them, despite their families’ pleas.

The foreign ministry announcement indicates that Amiri may have a particularly sensitive position in the Iranian nuclear program.

The report regarding the second scientist is also strange. Asharq al-Awsat uses only his surname – Ardebili. He was allegedly arrested in Georgia a few weeks ago. Reports say that Ardebili worked in the Iranian nuclear program as well, but the Iranian foreign ministry fervently denies these claims, and maintains that Ardebili was a businessman who was extradited to the U.S. following his arrest.

If the report is correct and two scientists from Iran’s nuclear program indeed defected, it would be a harsh blow to Iran and its nuclear plans on the one hand, and a triumph on the part of Western intelligence on the other.

See also:
Iran Blames U.S. in Disappearance of Scientist
TWO IRANIAN NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS MAY HAVE DEFECTED
Disappearance of Iranian scientist creates mystery
Iran accuses US of seizing nuclear scientist in Saudi Arabia
Iran says U.S. behind Iranian disappearance in Saudi Arabia
Iran: US behind missing scientist
Iran sees U.S. role in researcher’s disappearance
‘US link’ to missing Iranian in Saudi
Iran sees US role in researcher’s disappearance
Iranian FM: U.S. Involved In Disappearance Of Alleged Nuclear Scientist

Missing Iranian nuclear scientists, what missing Iranian nuclear scientists? We don’t have any missing Iranian nuclear scientists!

/on the other hand, if it ever turns out that we do have some missing Iranian nuclear scientists, I sure hope Obama won’t prosecute the responsible intelligence agents for kidnapping