Iran Update: The Crackdown Continues

The situation is only getting worse for Iranians contesting the June 12 election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi appears to be running out of options. According to the New York Times, he's promising to conduct only officially permitted protests (not likely) and the Guardian Council, which already validated Ahmadinejad's election, has validated it again. "There has been no fraud in the election," a spokesman announced.

And after blaming foreign reports for all their troubles, Iranian officials are also making extra efforts to silence the media (satellite signals have been jammed), which shouldn't be too difficult for a regime willing to arrest an entire newspaper (an estimated 40 journalists have been taken into custody). And don't wait for Twitter to ride in on a horse and save everybody. "It is still possible that the information age will crack authoritarian structures in Iran," writes Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East program for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "But it is far more likely that the government will be able to use that technology to secure its own rule."

To top it all off, ‘influential' cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, speaking at Friday Prayer in Tehran, called for protesters to be dealt with extra persuasively (with death).

Meanwhile, President Obama is not impressed. "There is no doubt that any direct dialogue or diplomacy with Iran is going to be affected by the events of the last several weeks. We don't yet know how any potential dialogue will have been affected until we see what has happened inside of Iran," he says, adding that the "clock is ticking" on Iran's development of a nuclear program.