TEHRAN, Iran – In the final hours of Iran’s fierce election campaign, the top pro-reform challenger to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got a sharp warning Wednesday that authorities would crush any attempt at a popular “revolution” inspired by the huge rallies and street parties calling for more freedoms.
The threat by an official of the powerful Revolutionary Guard reflected the increasingly tense atmosphere surrounding Friday’s up-for-grabs election. It also marked a sharp escalation by the ruling clerics against the youth-driven campaign of Mir Hossein Mousavi and its hopes of an underdog victory.
The Revolutionary Guard is one of the pillars of the Islamic establishment and controls large military forces as well as a nationwide network of militia volunteers. The message from the Guard’s political chief, Yadollah Javani, appeared to carry twin purposes: to rattle Mousavi’s backers just before the polls, and to warn that it would not tolerate the formation of a post-election political force under the banner of Mousavi’s “green movement” – the signature color of his campaign.
In a statement on the Guard’s Web site, Javani drew parallels between Mousavi’s campaign and the “velvet revolution” that led to the 1989 ouster of the communist government in then-Czechoslovakia.
“There are many indications that some extremist (reformist) groups, have designed a colorful revolution … using a specific color for the first time in an election,” the statement said.
Calling that a “sign of kicking off a velvet revolution project in the presidential elections,” Javani vowed that any “attempt for velvet revolution will be nipped in the bud.”