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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Witnessing Confrontation: Where do Loyalties Lie?

Robert Fisk in Iran

The long-standing Middle East correspondent for The Independent, Robert Fisk, is defying the government crackdown on foreign media reporting in Iran. As he explains, he has been travelling around the streets of Tehran all day and most of the night and things are far from quiet:

I've just been witnessing a confrontation, in dusk and into the night, between about 15,000 supporters of Ahmadinejad - supposedly the president of Iran - who are desperate to down the supporters of Mr Mousavi, who thinks he should be the president of Iran. There were about 10,000 Mousavi men and women on the streets, with approximately 500 Iranian special forces, trying to keep them apart. It was interesting that the special forces - who normally take the side of Ahmadinejad's Basij militia - were there with clubs and sticks in their camouflage trousers and their purity white shirts and on this occasion the Iranian military kept them away from Mousavi's men and women. In fact at one point, Mousavi's supporters were shouting 'thank you, thank you' to the soldiers. One woman went up to the special forces men, who normally are very brutal with Mr Mousavi's supporters, and said 'can you protect us from the Basij?' He said 'with God's help'. It was quite extraordinary because it looked as if the military authorities in Tehran have either taken a decision not to go on supporting the very brutal militia - which is always associated with the presidency here - or individual soldiers have made up their own mind that they're tired of being associated with the kind of brutality that left seven dead yesterday - buried, by the way secretly by the police - and indeed the seven or eight students who were killed on the university campus 24 hours earlier.

link: Extraordinary scenes: Robert Fisk in Iran - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


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