Tehran Streets Calm, Tensions Brewing Riot police and militiamen are out in large numbers to quell any protests. But it's unclear if the calm will last. Opposition leaders continue to call for a national mourning of the protesters killed in the demonstrations. Jeremy Bowen, the BBC's Middle East editor, talks with David Greene about the situation in Iran.

Tehran Streets Calm, Tensions Brewing

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm David Greene. With riot police and militiamen gaining even more control of the streets, Iran's capital is quieter now. But it's unclear if the calm will last. Opposition leaders continue to call for a national mourning for the protestors who were killed in the demonstrations. For more on the situation, we've called BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, who is in Tehran.

Good morning, Jeremy.

Mr. JEREMY BOWEN (Reporter, BBC): Good morning.

GREENE: Tell us what you're seeing in the city today.

Mr. BOWEN: I've just driven through the center of the city, and I have to say that unlike yesterday, I haven't seen many security people at all. I drove past a stadium where they've been using it as a base - the Basijis, the militia have been there. And there weren't any there. So I think that the regime is feeling a bit calmer about what's happening on the streets. I think that they can put people in very easily.

And also, let's not forget that it's by the late afternoon, which is some hours away already from us. That's when the - sort of the high point of demonstrations has been happening. But it's maybe a little early to say it, but it's looking as if perhaps the authorities have won this round.

GREENE: If they have won this round, if they have been able to curtail these protests that we saw, what options are left for the demonstrators? I mean, are they turning to other types of measures to have their voices heard?

Mr. BOWEN: There's been talk of strikes. There's been talk of civil disobedience. There is this day of mourning that's planned for tomorrow, and we'll see what comes out of that.

I think one of the problems that Mr. Mousavi - the man who feels he should be president - has is that in any other country, he'd be the head of a political party. He'd have an organization. He'd have people on the ground. But he doesn't have any of those things. So at the moment, I think the opposition is running out of gas to some extent, because they don't have the organization that they ideally would have.

And also, it's really very hard for people to communicate, even though there is a buzz that goes around on social networking sites and so on. The fact is, that doesn't apply to everybody who might be interested in taking part in protests. Plus, there's the intimidation factor. You know, I've seen these guys in the streets, and they're pretty scary. And having a demonstration and the knowledge that someone with a very thick wooden club is going to hit you across the back or across the head is not a nice feeling, I would think.

GREENE: I want to ask you about these mixed messages that we keep hearing. The Iranian leadership has repeatedly stated that the results of this election are going to stand, and Iranian state TV is reporting that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could be even sworn in as early as July 26th. But then we also hear that the deadline could be extended for complaints about the election. Do you have a sense of what steps might be taken with these complaints if they come in?

Mr. BOWEN: Yeah, you know, I wouldn't read a great deal into that, because this morning, Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader who's been 100 percent behind the result of this election from the beginning, has said again that no pressure will get them to change the results of the poll. So I think that maybe you should look at those extra five days that he's granted to the Guardian's Council, which is the election watchdog here, supervises elections. I think maybe you should look at it in terms more of the regime's tactical needs. They were due to announce the final result today.

Now, five days from now, maybe more gas will have gone out of the proceedings. And I think that there will - I mean, we've been hearing from Iranian sources here that one motivation behind the extra five days is to give them time to get ready for any public response there may be to the inevitable announcement that President Ahmadinejad will be sworn in for a second term.

GREENE: Well, Jeremy, we have just a few seconds left. I guess I'm wondering -you said that it's a scary situation there, even for reporters. What sort of limitations have you faced in reporting this story?

Mr. BOWEN: We're not allowed to report from the streets. We're basically supposed to only report from the office. So we have to rely on all kinds of different sources and information. And, of course, you can - you know, I drove through today. I was going to see the British ambassador. But if I was as a TV reporter to do a piece to camera from the middle of the streets, I'd get arrested and into trouble with the authorities here.

But we can speak freely. They're not trying to curtail what we say. So we can do a job here. It's just a tough situation to work.

GREENE: Jeremy, thank you so much for joining us.

Mr. BOWEN: It's a pleasure.

GREENE: Jeremy Bowen is Middle East editor for the BBC.

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