The Iranian government (?) or rather those currently dominating and oppressing the civilian population, has been playing a calculated game with the populace of what the author will coin "Bait and Wait". A strategy learned ironically by Ayatollah Khamenei 30 years ago when he himself was the rebel protester.
That lesson being when the Shah resorted to force, the rebellion was not crushed, but rather fueled and exploded to success. So give the backlash as much time as possible to simply peter out.
“Bait and Wait” meaning Mr. Khamenei had offered up token gestures and tolerances, such as selective inconsequential voting recounts and allowing a few rallies. In return for this attempt at minimal appeasement (bait), hopefully buying time (waiting) for the situation (protests) to simply exhaust itself.
But contrary to the government’s expectations, the protests and flagrant defiance to the Supreme Leader (and Guardian Council) continue to grow. As the patience of those in control wears thin and crosses a threshold, "Bait and Wait" is rapidly moving to a potentially unfortunate and very ugly “cat in a corner” conclusion called "Meet and Greet" - an iron fist. Not unlike the last ditch effort of the Shah 30 years ago. The change will be swift, deadly an overwhelming, with a message "don't ever challenge this regime again". Think Tiananmen Square on steroids.
In effect, view the government approach to the uprising as follows. Consider it “Phased Escalation”:
Phase 1 – Grudging tolerance
Phase 2 (now) – “Restrained” intimidation (i.e. Think pitbulls on a leash. Fully geared and seen riot police coupled with Basij beginning actions - batons, roughing up, sporadic gunfire, etc)
Phase 3 – Unleashing Hell - The full unleashing of the pitbulls (aka IRGC and Basij) – One goal being to totally crush the rebellion. No restraints, spare no one.
The protests have now reached a crossroads, in effect not challenging Mr. Khamenei’s front man, Ahmadinejad, but rather that which was unthinkable only two weeks ago, challenging the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei himself. His line in the sand statement at Friday’s prayer session, being defiantly crossed, with Mr. Mousavi countering Mr. Khamenei’s demand and threat for he and his followers to stand down, by reportedly (noting close allies of Mr. Mousavi deny he said it) offering himself as martyr if arrested or killed, further fueling his supporters. Mr. Khamenei's intimidation bluff of arrest or action against Mousavi seems to have been called, and the government now in self preservation mode, and barring a collapse in the protesters' drive and energy, will have no choice but to become that which current leadership so defiantly deposed decades ago - the Shah, as respects too violently fending off this new rebellion of its own.
The situation is quickly transitioning from riot police watching to riot police (and Basiji) roughing up pockets of protesters, all leading to the truly unfortunate and deadly Phase 3. That is the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and Basiji full blown clampdown in the offing, with all their hardware including tanks and other armored vehicles, will make Tiananmen Square look like a garden party.
Ironically, Freedom Square in Tehran will ultimately be the headstone for where either “perceived” freedom and democracy was lost or “real” freedom and democracy, finally attained.Bonus Question (never answered) – How can 40 million manual votes be fully tabulated and decision announced just 30 minutes after the polls closed a week ago Friday?