Wednesday, June 24, 2009

IRAN: HOW BEST TO PRAY

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 010 | Wed 24 Jun 2009

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IRAN: HOW BEST TO PRAY
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In 1989 the father of the Iranian Revolution, Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, died without a successor. His rightful and designated successor, Grand Ayatollah Hussain Ali Montazeri, had been sidelined in 1988 for protesting corruption and human rights abuses. At that time Khamenei was President, Mousavi was Prime Minister and Rafsanjani was Speaker of the Parliament. They were secure because they had not protested the purges and massacres!

Possibly because Rafsanjani thought Khamenei could be easily controlled, Rafsanjani convinced the Assembly of Experts to appoint Khamenei as Supreme Leader even though he was not qualified for the role. However, after Rafsanjani became president the two men started to clash.

Rafsanjani's power base was the business class, so he supported business, the elite and economic growth. Khamenei's power base was 'the masses', so he supported the clerics, the poor and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Khamenei and the IRGC brought Ahmadinejad to power in 2005 specifically because he would serve their interests. With Ahmadinejad in power, the IRGC have been able to extend their control over much of the Iranian economy and pursue their own and Khamenei's regional ambitions.

So, at the heart of the present troubles is a power struggle between the Khamenei IRGC-Ahmadinejad camp versus the Rafsanjani-Mousavi camp. Both camps are in the conservative block and all those involved are Islamists -- none of them are counter-revolutionaries.

The Ahmadinejad camp is ideologically driven and committed to exporting Revolution, spending billions of petro-dollars through the IRGC on foreign adventures in Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon and beyond to establish regional hegemony. The Mousavi camp on the other hand, though equally Islamist, wants less belligerence and good international relations so it can focus on domestic issues and the economy. The largely young, urban intellectuals who have been protesting in the streets of Tehran are simply embarrassed by and frustrated with the present regime and are desperate for change. One analyst described Mousavi as merely a 'balloon' that had been 'inflated' by those determined to express their anger against Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Independent analysts both inside and outside Iran believe that election fraud has taken place. However, this does not mean that Ahmadinejad would not have won the election anyway as he is enormously popular and is virtually worshipped by masses of rural poor who greatly appreciate his generous handouts. It is widely believed Khamenei and the IRGC wanted not only to guarantee Ahmadinejad's election but to provide him with a powerful mandate. The ruling regime had every intention of retaining power. As opposition started to mount even before the election, a senior official from the IRGC, Yadollah Javani, warned that the Revolutionary Guards would crush any attempt at a 'Velvet Revolution'.

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad control the guns and have the support of a clear majority of the 86-member Assembly of Experts (AoE). When Rafsanjani (who heads the AoE) recently approached the AoE -- possibly in an attempt to de-legitimise Khamenei -- his daughter and four other relatives were arrested. The Khamenei-Ahmadinejad-IRGC camp will retain power for the time being. Meanwhile, discontent, desperation and disillusionment are mounting.

PLEASE PRAY FOR IRAN THAT:

* the hunger of Iranians for openness and answers will grow as many of them start to question what has gone wrong there and as they search for a better way; may many find answers in Jesus Christ. (Generally the protesters still hope for a pure Islamic State. They believe that Islam is the solution and that the present regime has merely diverged.)

* God will wonderfully protect and preserve his besieged Church as persecution will doubtless escalate when the regime moves with rage and force to repress or even purge those who oppose it or are perceived to be a threat.

* the Holy Spirit will breathe supernatural courage into the Iranian Church, so believers will witness with courage, conviction and authority; may every word of witness be blessed with every believer a prophetic voice and a light shining in the darkness.

'For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.' (John 3:17 ESV)

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NOTE: After the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing on 4 June 1989,
large numbers of Chinese elite (including Communist officials) rejected
Communism and in a few short years the Chinese Church became truly
representative of Chinese society. Christianity is now just as much a
faith of the urban elite -- doctors, lawyers, artists, scholars and the
like -- as it is a faith of the rural poor. Even amongst non-
Christians, Communism is largely discredited and rejected and openness
and liberty are sought.