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by RAY FLEMING
IN this space last Tuesday I ventured the opinion that, even if Ahmadinejad's victory in the Iran election were to be sustained, “it is unlikely that Iranian politics can ever be the same again”. Listening yesterday to the speech of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it seemed that, despite five tumultuous days in Tehran and elsewhere in the country, politics were very much unchanged. Yes, he understood that some people had been unwise enough to march in the streets and call for a new election, but he also understood perfectly that they had been provoked into doing this by the West, especially Britain, “the most evil of foreign powers” (a reminder of how Britain's role in the events of the early 1950s is still bitterly resented). The Western diplomats, he said, “have taken away the masquerade from their faces and are showing their true image.” Then came the iron fist for Iranians who do not see the error of their ways as the Ayatollah warned that there should be no more demonstrations and that protests against the election result should be sought through legal channels. Iranians should “seek tranquility and peace in their hearts and not pursue disorder and criticism of authority”. What will happen today? What lead will Hossein Mousavi give to the hundreds of thousands who have been marching behind him? Will he ask them to risk all by defying the Supreme Leader - with unpredictable consequences?