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Protester vs. protester in Iran

As pro-Mousavi crowds maintain the rage in Tehran Tuesday, the government tries to deter them by whatever means.

Supporters of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi run in the streets during protests June 16, 2009 in Tehran, Iran. Iran banned foreign media from covering rallies in the country and Iran's Guardian Council reportedly said that they would recount some of the votes in presidential election that critics say was unfairly won by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinehjad. (Getty Images)

[Editor's note: This is the latest on-the-ground dispatch from our Tehran-based correspondent, who cannot be named because of the increased danger of arrest as the government cracks down on journalists.]

TEHRAN — With cellphone connections disrupted and SMS services shut off by the government, Mousavi demonstrators at the historic rallies in the capital passed the details of their next rally from person-to-person, by word of mouth: Tuesday, 5 p.m., at Vali Asr Square.

There, the imbalance of power between the government forces and the demonstrators was immense and revealed itself not only in hand-to-hand clashes, but in the methods of organization that each side adopted.

The backers of the disputed winner of Friday's presidential election, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have all the considerable resources of the state at their disposal, while those of Mir-Hossein Mousavi are left to run a scattershot insurgency campaign.

Of course, government services were as privy to the information as everyone else and Mousavi supporters woke up on Tuesday to find an announcement on state television requesting Ahmadinejad supporters and other patriots to come out to protest the "rioters" — where else, but at Vali Asr Square at 4 p.m., one hour prior to the arrival of their electoral rivals. In the interest of avoiding a potential bloodbath, Mousavi supporters hastily changed plans.

The government rally brought out tens of thousands of people in a demonstration of old-fashioned populist political showmanship. Iranian flags were passed out to the crowd, as were signs that defended the integrity of the election and cast aspersion on the meddling of
America and the "BBC."

A moderator intoned religious songs and urged the crowd to join in, as TV cameras filmed the scene. Their footage would be presumably combined with shots taken from the camera-equipped helicopter hovering above.

Mousavi's supporters on Tuesday worked under entirely different constraints. Having again been denied a permit to rally, and with memories of the previous night's bloodshed, the decision to attend the improvised march in North Tehran became for each individual a personal choice of conscience and there was a palpable fear, a skittishness in the crowd, that was absent the day before. Many people didn't show up, citing fears of renewed violence.

The tens of thousands who did assemble again tried their best to take precautions to avoid becoming the instigators of conflict: this second miles-long rally was conducted, like the first, largely in silence.

And in the absence of state-owned television cameras, the marchers relied on an ad hoc method of documentation — every 30 yards or so, a person holding a pocket-sized digital camera filmed the proceedings around him.

Ground Truth:

The global view: GlobalPost correspondents from around the world weigh in on Iran.

Snapshots from Tehran's Revolution Square

Unrest continues in Iran: The third day of protests in Tehran, and news agencies come under pressure.

Tehran's wild nights of protest: Iran's election aftermath — The view from the streets of Tehran

'New' dawn breaks over Iran: Mousavi supporters cry foul as news of Ahmadinejad's win spreads.

Iran's elections: The view from the highway — Will the country vote to keep conservative leader or choose reform candidate?

Analysis and background:

Iran election: Blood and oil. Interview: Oil analyst Rachel Ziemba on what the unrest in Iran might mean for oil prices and production.

Oil, unrest and some very nervous Saudis. Interview: Middle East analyst Rachel Bronson sorts it all out.

Revolution, Tiananmen, or something else? Opinion: Though Ahmadinejad will likely have a second term, this election won't soon be forgotten.

Obama's dilemma. Be careful when you extend a hand. Sometimes the world bites.

Iran votes in record-breaking numbers: Country awaits results in election that has become a referendum on Iran's polarizing president.

Young, Iranian and ready for change: Amid the carnival atmosphere in Tehran, the feeling is that change has already occurred, no matter who wins Friday's election.

Iranians anoint their 'Michelle Obama': Parallels are being drawn between the American first lady and the wife of the main opposition candidate in the June 12 presidential poll.

Iran's elections: The view from the US — Mousavi wins in Boston: Opinions of some Iranians who voted in Beantown

A path to change or more of the same?: The level of debate in the run-up to Friday's presidential poll has surprised even the hard-line president.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/middle-east/090616/counter-insurgency-sorts-iran