Confrontation between opposition supporters and the police have faded as the government crackdown intensifies
Opponents of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, are bracing themselves for a purge if, as expected, he returns to office following the country’s bitterly disputed presidential election.
“There will be a purge, no doubt about it,” said Ali Ansari, director of the Iranian Institute of St Andrews University, who until recently often travelled to Iran for research.
“There are people in Tehran who think, now that the regime has won, they will be left alone. I can’t tell you how far from the truth this is.”
The purge may already have begun. Akbar Torkan, the deputy oil minister and a rising star in the government, was sacked after writing sympathetically in an opposition newspaper.
Iranian sources said 17 senior officers in the elite Revolutionary Guard had been “reassigned” because their loyalties were suspect.
It is not a new tactic for Ahmadinejad. Since he became president in 2004 he has replaced every ambassador and all but one of Iran’s provincial governors with cronies, as well as filling important ministries with allies.
“I expect Ahmadinejad to continue the purge he started when he became president,” said Amir Taheri, an Iranian analyst. “He will go for the parliament, the Guardian Council, where four members were against him, and even the expediency council, which oversees the office of supreme leader.”
The analysts pointed out that Ahmadinejad was able to move because he had the public backing of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader.
The streets of Tehran were quiet yesterday, with riot police in camouflage uniforms and basiji, the volunteer militia, on the main squares and patrolling on motorcycles and in trucks.
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