Update | 7:03 p.m. The Lede will be back tomorrow morning with more updates. We leave you for the evening with the most recent plea from the Mousavi1388 Twitter feed:
We have no national press coverage in Iran, everyone should help spread Mousavi’s message. One Person = One Broadcaster.
Update | 6:59 p.m. A lot of new photographs from Monday’s rally in Tehran attributed to GhalamNews.ir, Mr. Moussavi’s campaign Web site, have been uploaded to the Mousavi1388 Flickr photostream.
Update | 6:58 p.m. The Boston Globe’s Big Picture photo blog has a round up of images from the last three days in Iran.
Update | 6:26 p.m. Since we mentioned the theory earlier that some supporters of Mr. Ahmadinejad have raised — that the opposition is a middle class, Tehran movement that does not reflect the will of the rest of Iran’s population — we should mention that a few people have been poking holes in that theory, in the comments threads on this Web site and in other places. One of our readers, gb, wrote this afternoon:
Update | 6:02 p.m. Earlier today an Iranian reader wrote to tell us that the BBC World Service’s Farsi-language radio broadcasts were important in 1979, as a way to get the Ayatollah Khomeinei’s messages into Iran. Now the Web site of that same network, BBC Persian, has become a focus for messages traveling in the opposite direction, out to the world from inside Iran. Here is video of the vast rally in Tehran today that was shot on a phone and sent to BBC Persian.
Update | 5:42 p.m. It is after 4 a.m. in Iran and the flow of information from Twitter seems to have gone quiet. About an hour ago one of the bloggers writing about the protests in Tehran on Twitter filed these notes:
The opposition leaders have all called for peaceful protests. They may be aware that provoking violence might just help the regime justify its crackdown on dissent.
Update | 5:32 p.m. Readers have sent us a direct link to the video aired by Channel 4 News of the shooting incident in which one man was reportedly killed by members of the paramilitary Basij militia. Before clicking on it, be aware that there are very disturbing images .
Update | 5:10 p.m. A reader named Farzad writes to say:
Update | 4:31 p.m. What year is it in Tehran? Some people writing comments on our Web site claim that this is 1953 all over again, going along with the worst fears of Iranians that what we are witnessing is a high-tech version of the coup carried out that year by U.S. and British intelligence to depose an elected prime minister and reinstate the Shah. Others claim that what is happening now is some sort of replay of the revolution that deposed the Shah and brought about the Islamic Republic in 1979.
Writing on the Web site of Forbes, Ramin Ahmadi suggests that what is at stake in Iran today is what was at stake in Czechoslovakia in 1968, and again in 1989:
The elite clergy are up in arms about these developments. Secret negotiations are under way to make face-saving deals for both sides, but it may be a little too late for a compromise. There are reports of the armed forces firing on student protesters and at least one death. People are back on their rooftops screaming, “God is great,” along with anti-regime slogans reminding everyone old enough of the 1979 revolution. Ahmadinejad supporters are calling for the arrest of former presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammed Khatami, accusing them of treason. Returning the genie to the bottle looks increasingly difficult. There are at least two possible outcomes for the current crisis. If the Ahmadinejad’s coup is successful, we will witness another post-1968 Prague spring, crushing the reform movement and including a military attempt at “normalizing” society. Mousavi will be forced to appear on television and play the role of an Iranian Dubcek, expressing regrets and calling on people to stop resisting the military regime. If this coup fails, on the other hand, Tehran may experience the Prague spring of 1989, and the country will be wide open to the possibility of substantial reforms and liberalization, well beyond what was seen in the Khatami era. In either case, the Islamic Republic we have known for the last three decades is gone.
Update | 4:18 p.m. Considering that today’s protest was supposedly called off, and resulted in a crowd in Tehran five miles long, you have to wonder what tomorrow will bring, when a general strike is in the cards. Persiankiwi passes the message: “Moussavi - calling national strike tomorrow - all Iran.”
Update | 4:08 p.m. As darkness fell on an extraordinary day in Tehran, the Mousavi1388 Twitter feed called for shouted protest: “Tonight & every night 9-11pm, ‘Alaho Akbar’ from rooftops.” As The A.P. explains, this cry was used to unite the Iranian people in support of the Islamic Republic 30 years ago:
As darkness fell, cries of “Allahu akbar!” — “God is great!” — were heard across central Tehran as people gathered on rooftops for a second straight night. On Sunday night, Ahmadinejad opponents shouted “Death to the dictator!” The protest bore deep historic resonance — it was how the leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini asked Iran to unite against the Western-backed shah 30 years earlier.
Update | 4:03 p.m. The Associated Press reports that the Basij militia were responsible for shooting that “killed one man and wounded several others.” Sometime after the peaceful rally addressed by Mir Hussein Moussavi, The A.P. says that “a group of demonstrators with fuel canisters set a small fire at a compound of a volunteer militia linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard as the crowd dispersed from the square. As some tried to storm the building, people on the roof could be seen firing directly at the demonstrators at the northern edge of the square, away from the heart of the rally. An Associated Press photographer saw one person fatally shot and at least two others who appeared to be seriously wounded.”
Update | 4:00 p.m. The Twitter feed Persiankiwi reports being in a group “attacked in streets by mob on motorbikes with batons - firing guns into air.” The blogger adds: “Everywhere the city is under pressure - cars tooting, people running motorbikes in large groups, fires and people chanting.”
Update | 3:50 p.m. According to Tehran Bureau’s Twitter feed, the Iranian-American Web site interviewed a “very trusted eyewitness,” who claims to have seen the Basij militia shoot and kill at least one man in Tehran. Tehran Bureau stresses: “she said it was NOT police. says it was Basij.”
Update | 3:40 p.m. Here is video of an interview with Lindsey Hilsum of Channel 4 News on Monday night in Tehran:
Some readers have pointed out that Channel 4 has also aired footage of protesters being shot in Tehran, but, according to Channel 4’s Web site, this video is only available inside the United Kingdom.
Update | 3:17 p.m. The American filmmaker James Longley, who made the documentary “Iraq in Fragments,” is in Iran, working on a new film. On Sunday, he was arrested with his translator while interviewing people on a street in Tehran, near the Interior Ministry. In an e-mail message to a friend in the United States, published on a cinema blog, Mr. Longley wrote that while he was interviewing a woman who said “The riot police are beating people like animals,” police officers “dragged me and my translator off to the Ministry of Interior building.”
Mr. Longley, who confirmed the story to The Lede this afternoon, explained what happened next:
As we reached the Ministry of Interior building they separated us and dragged my translator by his arms across the floor and down a flight of stairs; he eventually regained his footing on the second two flights of stairs leading downward to the holding cell, where about twenty people who had already been grabbed off the streets were kneeling on the floor in the darkened room with their hands tied behind their backs. All during this process my translator was being kicked and sworn at. … My translator kept on insisting that he was an officially authorized translator working with an American journalist – which is perfectly true. At this time I was above ground, in the entrance to the ministry, yelling over and over at the police to “Bring me my translator!” It was clear that they didn’t intend to beat me – although they may have wanted to – because I was a foreigner. After a few minutes they relented and sent someone off to retrieve my translator from their holding cell, three floors down in the Ministry of Interior building. They came into the holding cell and shouted “Where is the translator?!” and then, when he identified himself, they beat him again for “not telling them he was a translator.”
Update | 2:34 p.m. Despite all the uproar on the streets of Iran, it remains the case that the man who ultimately leads the country is not its president but the unelected cleric who is called Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Given that, this might be a good time to read more about him. The full text of “Reading Khamenei,” Karim Sadjadpour’s 2008 report on the man for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is available for download.
In the report, published last year, Mr. Sadjadpour wrote: “It’s time for the world to focus less on Ahmadinejad and more on Khamenei.” Mr. Sadjadpour added: “Trying to engage an Iran with Khamenei at the helm will no doubt be trying, require a great deal of nuance and patience, and offer no guaranteed chance of success. But an approach toward Iran that aims to ignore, bypass, or undermine Khamenei is guaranteed to fail.”
Update | 2:32 p.m. If you’ve come straight here, don’t miss the news article on Monday’s events my colleagues Robert F. Worth and Nazila Fathi in Tehran have written. They report that Monday’s rally in Iran’s capital was attended by hundreds of thousands of people, despite the considerable risks involved to all attending the event after permission to hold it was denied by Iran’s Interior Ministry.
Update | 1:47 p.m. The BBC has remarkable video of an incident during a protest over the weekend in Tehran. The video, shot by an Italian journalist on his phone, shows Iranian police on motorcycles charging at protesters, attempting to clear them from a street. After one police officer crashed, his bike was set on fire and he was helped to safety. The journalist later filed this video report for the Web site of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. Near the end of the clip, the raw footage of the police officer sitting, stunned, is quite amazing. (Thanks to a reader for pointing out that we initially had the date wrong on this clip.)
Update | 1:38 p.m. Persiankiwi responds to news that the Supreme Leader’s Web site has been hacked and brought down by writing: “we honour and thank the people of Iran and especially the hackers. Baseej have guns we have brains.”
Update | 1:29 p.m. Lindsey Hilsum of Britain’s Channel 4 News — whose reports are also featured on the PBS Newshour in the United States — wrote this morning in a blog post that even some opposition supporters in Tehran fear that protest is useless since power is so firmly in the hands of Iran’s ruling clerics:
Whenever the riot police charge, waving their batons, with their shields to the fore, people run down the streets to escape. The black-clad riot squad move in phalanxes on motor-bikes, riding up on the pavements, swiping at passers-by. You don’t have to be a protester to get hit. On Sunday morning, we ended up running with a crowd and hiding in a stairwell. A young man invited us upstairs to his office. Like many Iranians I’ve met in the last few days, he was fed up of the old order, and had voted for Mir Hossein Mousavi, the alternative candidate. But he wasn’t amongst the youths on the streets, throwing stones at the police, because he had no hope that it would bring change. “There’s no leadership,” he said. “Mr. Mousavi will not lead us because those who control the country are more powerful than him. Everything is in the hands of the Supreme Leader.”
Update | 1:23 p.m. A reader points out that Andrew Sullivan is also live-blogging about Iran — and, perhaps as a result, he reports that his blog is “under attack.”
The Atlantic is struggling to keep the site up despite what seems to be a digital attack. Please be persistent in trying to reload.
Update | 1:10 p.m. A Flick user named Azarnoosh has posted what he says are on Monday in the city of Shiraz. A reader of The Lede, using the alias gb, writes to tell us that he has heard that there was a rally in Shiraz from his mother, who called him from Iran. He writes “I know about Shiraz as my mom called, she said they have attacked the demonstrators. I’ve asked her for photos and movies but it’s hard. If they find out you’re taking pics they beat you up and take your camera and you.”
Update | 1:07 p.m. Another reader, Ditape, writes to say that she has heard of a rally in the Iranian city of Isfahan:
My husband is currently in Isfahan and says huge rally blocking all roads into City Monday evening — he was visiting friends outside city and taxi could not make it further than city limits.
Update | 1:04 p.m. A reader points out that Nate Silver, who knows quite a bit about polling, also weighs in with an extensive analysis arguing against the op-ed published in the Washington Post today:
Ballen and Doherty are doing admirable and important work. Regular readers will know how difficult it is to conduct a good poll in the United States. Take that difficulty to the fifth power, and you’ll have some sense for how difficult it is to conduct a good poll in Iran. Unfortunately, while the poll itself may be valid, Ballen and Doherty’s characterization of it is misleading. Rather than giving one more confidence in the official results, the poll raises more questions than it resolves.
Update | 12:45 p.m. On Wired’s Danger Room blog, Noah Shachtman reports that supporters of Iran’s opposition are apparently attacking Iranian government Web sites:
Pro-democracy activists on the web are asking supporters to use relatively simple hacking tools to overflood the regime’s propaganda sites with junk traffic. The impact of these “Distributed Denial of Service” (DDOS) attacks isn’t clear. But official online outlets like leader.ir, ahmadinejad.ir, and iribnews.ir are currently inaccessible. “There are calls to use an even more sophisticated tool called ‘BWraep,’ which seems to exhaust the target web site out of bandwidth by creating bogus requests for serving images,” notes Open Society Institute fellow Evgeny Morozov.
The hackers have put out a call on Twitter for Web users to “initiate DDOS attack on government websites” by simply clicking on a link.
Update | 12:41 p.m. Persiankiwi again: “confirmed — there is shooting in Azadi sq. protesters wounded and shot, no numbers yet, still hearing gunfire.”
Update | 12:40 p.m. More from the Twitter feed of Persiankiwi, apparently finding a way to get online in Tehran: “We have heard what sounds like gunshots in distance. still have people on streets we have not heard from.”
Earlier Persiankiwi wrote that “mousavi said ‘these masses were not brought by bus or by threat. they were not brought for potatoes. they came themselves’.”
Update | 12:38 p.m. The Associated Press reports from Tehran that an A.P. photographer “sees pro-government militia fire at protesters, killing at least one.”
That report follows one from the Twitter feed Persiankiwi 10 minutes ago: “unconfirmed — there are reports of violence in Tehran now.” Five minutes ago Persiankiwi added that members of an Iranian militia are on the streets: “Bassej are out in force in darkness. this is when they operate best. Streets are dangerous now for young people.”
Update | 11:59 a.m. The tug of war over the election results has spread to the Web site of the Washington Post. Several of our readers have pointed to an opinion article published by The Post on Monday in which Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty argue that a pre-election survey they conducted showed strong support for Mr. Ahmadinejad in line with the official results.
But on Wasingtonpost.com’s Behind the Numbers blog on Monday, Jon Cohen, who is a member of The Post’s polling staff, argues against Mr. Ballen and Mr. Doherty:
Public opinion surveys are central to the Iranian opposition’s argument that the elections there were rigged for incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: they cite unspecified polls showing the main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi with a “strong lead in the final days of the campaign,” according to the New York Times. Now, a competing poll conducted by two American groups is being used as part of the pushback. In an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty write-up the results of their telephone poll carried out in mid-May, showing Ahmadinejad ahead “by a more than 2 to 1 margin - greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election.” The validity of the unreleased Iranian surveys cannot be assessed in detail, but a closer look at the one sponsored by Terror Free Tomorrow and the New America Foundation reveals ample reason to be skeptical of the conclusions drawn from it. Methodologically, this survey passes muster as it’s relatively straightforward to pull a good sample of the Iranian population, using the country’s publicly available population counts and listed telephone exchanges. But the poll was conducted from May 11 to 20, well before the spike in support for Mousavi his supporters claim. More to the point, however, the poll that appears in today’s op-ed shows a 2 to 1 lead in the thinnest sense: 34 percent of those polled said they’d vote for Ahmadinejad, 14 percent for Mousavi. That leaves 52 percent unaccounted for. In all, 27 percent expressed no opinion in the election, and another 15 percent refused to answer the question at all. Six percent said they’d vote for none of the listed candidates; the rest for minor candidates. One should be enormously wary of the current value of a poll taken so far before such a heated contest, particularly one where more than half of voters did not express an opinion.
Update | 11:51 a.m. A reader points to this photograph posted on Twitter that has also moved across the wires, giving a better idea of the size of the rally in Tehran.
Update | 11:27 a.m. On Flickr, Mousavi1388 has just added this photograph of the rally in Tehran taken from above.
Update | 11:19 a.m. Visit the home page of NYTimes.com to see more images of the rally in Tehran today.
Update | 11:11 a.m. Press TV’s Web site is still overloaded, but their report on the rally from earlier today appeared on my screen briefly. Here is what it said:
Thousands of people have staged a rally in central Tehran to show support for defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi despite a denial by Interior Ministry to issue a permit for the rally. Reports say there was not enough time for the Moussavi headquarters to inform the people of the cancellation of the rally. Our correspondent reported from Enqelab Street that Moussavi and another defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi are attending the rally to alleviate any possible conflict between pro-Moussavi supporters and anti-riot police. According to our correspondent Amir-Mehdi Kazemi reporting from Enqelab St., the rally is being peaceful and protesters have avoided any conflict so far.
Another report on Press TV’s site adds that Mr, Moussavi “said he was unable to inform his supporters about the postponement of the gathering due to the lack of proper means to spread the information among protesters.” So the block on social-networking tools cuts both ways.
Earlier the same source reported that Mohammad Khatami, the former president and reformist who supports Mr. Moussavi was also at the rally and “has just called for the election to be declared VOID at today’s protests in Tehran.”
This Twitter feed, and the YouTube channel and Flickr photostream also named Mousavi1388 (1388 is the current year on Iranian calendars), say that they are “a group of Iranian professionals and students” who see the election as “a chance for us all to change Iran’s current position within the world.”
As The Guardian’s Haroon Siddique pointed out on Sunday, Mousavi1388 is just one of several Iranian groups of “digital smugglers” who have continued to use the Internet during the chaotic aftermath of the election to share information, despite disruptions to Internet service, and to let the outside world know what is happening inside Iran.
Mr. Siddique also pointed to this YouTube video posted on Saturday, apparently showing that protesters took to the streets on Saturday in the Iranian city of Mashad, the Supreme Leader’s hometown:
Update | 10:33 a.m. What is Mr. Ahmadinejad doing while all this is going on? Not blogging apparently. His own Web site is currently among those not working in Iran.
Update | 10:28 a.m. The BBC has video of the large, noisy rally on Tehran’s streets today by supporters of Mir Hussein Moussavi.
Update | 10:25 a.m. CNN, citing Amir Mehdi Kazemi, a reporter for Iran’s Press TV, reports that “Hundreds of thousands of people turned out for the demonstration” in Tehran on Monday.
Update | 10:14 a.m. Clifford Levy, The Times bureau chief in Moscow, writes to say that there is some “mystery surrounding whether Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is coming to Russia or not. He was supposed to travel here for a meeting in Yekaterinburg on Monday of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Iran has observer status, and he apparently was going to meet with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on the sidelines on Monday afternoon.”
An official at the Iranian embassy in Moscow told The Times earlier today that Mr. Ahmadinejad was not coming on Monday, and might not be coming at all. Then later, the official said that Mr. Ahmadinejad would not come on Monday, but would travel and attend the meeting on Tuesday morning.
Reuters reports that a Russian official who asked not to be named “said the visit had been delayed until Tuesday and added that Ahmadinejad still planned to speak to reporters. The Kremlin declined immediate comment.”
Clearly the visit to Russia itself is not a vital one, but the fact that Mr. Ahmadinejad apparently does not feel comfortable leaving Iran at this time might suggest that he is less secure in his position than he appeared during his press conference and victory rally on Sunday.
Update | 9:59 a.m. The Web site of Press TV, Iran’s state-supported, English-language broadcaster, confirms that a large opposition rally is underway in Tehran. The Web site is overloaded at the moment and none of the articles or videos there can be downloaded, but the Press TV home page displays this video still of the protest in Tehran:
Update | 9:56 a.m. Al Jazeera reports that Mir Hussein Moussavi has addressed supporters at the rally in Tehran on Monday:
In his first public appearance since the elections three days ago, Mir Hussein Moussavi, the defeated presidential candidate, told supporters at the rally in Tehran on Monday that he would take part if new elections were called. “The vote of the people is more important than Moussavi or any other person,” he said. The demonstrators headed toward the capital’s huge Freedom Square in the largest display of opposition to the election results to date. “Mousavi we support you! We will die but retrieve our votes!” shouted supporters, many wearing the trademark green color of Moussavi’s election campaign.
Update | 9:50 a.m. Reuters reports on the rally at Tehran University the BBC reported earlier:
About 400 pro-reform students, many wearing green face masks to conceal their identity, gathered at a mosque in Tehran University and demanded Ahmadinejad’s resignation. “We will stage a sit-in inside the university from Tuesday until the vote results are canceled,” said one student.
Here, again, is dramatic video of the rally from the BBC’s Web site.
Update | 9:27 a.m. As we mentioned earlier, some Iran experts suggest that Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president of Iran who has strongly supported Mr. Moussavi’s campaign to unseat Mr. Ahmadinejad, is pushing from inside Iran’s clerical establishment to have the election results overturned. In 2007, Michael Slackman reported from Tehran for The Times on Mr. Rafsanjani’s rivalry with the Supreme Leader:
In another sign of growing domestic discontent with Iran’s increasingly radical policies, a former president long sidelined by the supreme leader narrowly won election to head a government council called the Assembly of Experts. The former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was defeated in elections two years ago by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and since has found his voice increasingly muffled and his advice to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, largely ignored, according to political analysts with close relations to Mr. Rafsanjani. [...] Theoretically, Mr. Rafsanjani should be a powerful force. In addition to leading the Assembly, he will retain his post in charge of another arm of the government, the Expediency Council. That arm negotiates differences between the appointed hard-line decision makers on the Guardian Council, and the elected Parliament. But Ayatollah Khamenei has the final say on all matters of state. He has shown no interest in restoring Mr. Rafsanjani’s influence and has long viewed him as a challenge to his own authority, many political analysts said. As we noted on Sunday, Ayatollah Khamenei tried to shut down moves to challenge the election results by saying twice over the weekend that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won. The fact that he called for an investigation of the results on Monday could mean that Mr. Rafsanjani is exerting some pressure on him.
Update | 9:17 a.m. The BBC has dramatic video of a secret rally by students in Tehran, who denounced the “coup d’etat” and called on President Ahmadinejad to resign.
Update | 9:15 a.m. Reuters reports that a big crowd is demonstrating in Tehran, even though the rally there was supposedly called off:
Tens of thousands of supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi gathered for a rally in downtown Tehran on Monday, defying an Interior Ministry ban, a Reuters witness said. “The street is fully packed,” the witness said, adding the crowd was waiting for Mousavi and other pro-reform leaders who back his call for the annulment of the official result of Friday’s election, which showed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won. Wearing Mousavi’s green campaign colors and photographs of him, they chanted: “Mousavi take back our votes.” Several kilometers of a central Tehran thoroughfare were packed with people taking part in the rally, the witness said. “Where are the 63 percent who voted for Ahmadinejad?” they chanted, referring to his official election tally.
Update | 9:07 a.m. So who is Iran’s Supreme Leader, and what might be behind his apparent support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? The Guardian’s diplomatic correspondent Julian Borger wrote, in a short profile of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday that the man who succeeded Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran’s highest office had problems with Mir Husein Moussavi when the two men occupied senior positions in the Iranian government in the 1980s:
In August 1981, when Iran’s president, Mohamed Ali Rajai, was killed in a bomb attack, Khamenei took over the presidency. He came to power as a hardline conservative and soon entered into a conflict with his prime minister at the time, Hussein Mousavi, who was on the left wing of Khomeini’s ruling party. The parliament, or Majlis, stood by Mousavi, humiliating the new president. Khomeini stepped in, dissolving the party, but the battle of strength left a bitter personal history between Khamenei and Mousavi. Khamenei has never had the full respect of the country’s Islamic scholars. What he does have is an extensive network of contacts among hardline clerics and their economically powerful religious foundations, the bonyads. He also has strong links with the Revolutionary Guard and the military. He rarely gives public speeches and seeks to retain the mystique of his position through silence while balancing one faction in government against another. Consequently, Iranian government has become ever more opaque and unpredictable. Even politicians at the heart of power are uncertain of his views. Update | 8:43 a.m. Monday’s call for an investigation into the election results by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, could be part of an effort to tamp down protests, or a sign that some sort of power struggle between clerics in Iran’s government is going on behind the scenes. On Saturday, Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, suggested in a blog post on the Web site of Foreign Policy magazine that such a power struggle was indeed taking place: Few doubt that the results presented by the interior minister are rigged. In fact, there are increasing questions as to whether the votes were ever even counted. If this were really a landslide in favor of Ahmadinejad, where are those 63 percent of the people right now? Shouldn’t they be celebrating their victory on the streets? Clearly, the anti-Ahmadinejad camp has been taken by surprise and is scrambling for a plan. Increasingly, given their failure to get Khamenei to intervene, their only option seems to be to directly challenge — or threaten to challenge — the supreme leader. Here’s where the powerful chairman of the Assembly of Experts, Mousavi supporter Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, comes in. Only this assembly has the formal authority to call for Khamenei’s dismissal, and it is now widely assumed that Rafsanjani is quietly assessing whether he has the votes to do so or not. It may be that the first steps toward challenging Khamenei have already been taken. After all, Mousavi went over the supreme leader’s head with an open letter to the clergy in Qom. Rafsanjani clearly failed to win Khamenei’s support in a reported meeting between the two men Friday, but the influential Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, who heads the vote-monitoring committee for Mousavi and fellow candidate Mehdi Karroubi, has officially requested that the Guardian Council cancel the election and schedule a new vote with proper monitoring. The Lede spoke with another Iranian-American expert, Hooman Majd, the author of “The Ayatollah Begs to Differ,” to get his perspective. In an e-mail message, Mr. Madj agreed that there does seem to be some sort of challenge to the authority of the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei: The issue with Iran at this very moment is that everything is conjecture, and of course millions of rumors. What is true, as Trita points out, is that the mere fact that the vote is being challenged is a direct challenge to the Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader is very smart and may decide the opposition won’t back down, and if so, he may decide to come out on their side. It’s all very fluid and we don’t know what the results of all the 24-hour a day closed door meetings will be. I do know that those meetings are taking place, and I do know that no one has finalized a plan on the reform side. I do know that Rafsanjani, one of the most powerful men in Iran, has not publicly made any statements, which means that he hasn’t bought into the Supreme Leader line, at least not yet. Update | 8:36 a.m. The BBC reports that, “A rally against the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is being held in Tehran, in defiance of a government ban on protests.” Citing news agencies, the BBC adds: “hundreds of people are taking part in the Tehran rally. Marchers have clashed with Ahmadinejad supporters, Reuters agency reports.” Update | 8:03 a.m. ET According to a report from Reuters, opposition rallies that were planned to start across Iran about 30 minutes ago have been called off by Mir Hussein Moussavi, after permission was denied to stage one in the capital: A planned rally in Tehran on Monday by supporters of defeated presidential election candidate Mirhossein Mousavi has been postponed, a Mousavi website said. It said the rally, called to protest against the official result of Friday’s presidential election, had been delayed after the Interior Ministry did not give permission for it to go ahead. “In the wake of a lack of permit from the Interior Ministry the demonstration on Monday by supporters of Mousavi has been postponed,” said a headline on the website. It was not immediately possible to see the full text of the statement. It said Mousavi was strongly protesting against the decision of the Interior Ministry not to allow the rally. Given the disruption in communications, including the Internet and text-messaging, inside Iran, it is not clear how easy it will be to completely stop the rallies all over the country. Reuters reports that Mr. Moussavi “said he would attend anyway, to calm the crowd.” As my colleagues Robert Worth and Nazila Fathi report from Tehran on Monday, the opposition protests over the weekend, and the threat of more disruption today, may still have had some impact, since the cleric who rules Iran has asked for an investigation into the election results: In an unusual broadcast repeated every 15 minutes on state radio, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, was quoted as telling the main opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, to pursue his objections to the election result calmly and legally. The broadcast said that at a meeting on Sunday night, Mr. Khamenei told Mr. Moussavi, “Naturally in this election, complaints should be followed through legal channels,” adding that Mr. Khamenei told Mr. Moussavi to “follow the issue calmly.” The radio said Mr. Khamenei had also instructed the powerful Guardian Council to examine Mr. Moussavi’s and other opposition figures’ complaints of widespread electoral irregularities. Earlier, Mr. Khamenei said the vote, which gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an overwhelming victory, had been fair. Whether this call for an investigation by Ayatollah Khamenei is a hint of a major breakthrough in a power struggle behind the scenes, or a way to mute protests without overturning the election results, is yet to be seen. This blog,"," first appeared in The New York Times.