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Friday, June 26, 2009

Iran: Fault Lines in the Regime

Fareed Zakaria writes:

There have been protests in Iran before, but they always placed the street against the state, and the clerics all sided with the state. When the reformist president Mohammad Khatami was in power, he entertained the possibility of siding with the street after student riots broke out in 1999 and 2003, but in the end he stuck with the establishment. The street and state are at odds again—the difference this time is that the clerics are divided. Khatami has openly backed the challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, as has the reformist Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri. Even Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, not a cleric himself but a man with strong family connections to the highest levels of the religious hierarchy, has expressed doubts about the election. Behind the scenes, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani—the head of the Assembly of Experts, another important constitutional body—is reportedly waging a campaign against Ahmadinejad and even possibly the Supreme Leader. If senior clerics dispute Khamenei's divine assessment and argue that the Guardian Council is wrong, it would represent a death blow to the basic premise behind the Islamic Republic of Iran. It would be as though a senior Soviet leader had said in 1980 that Karl Marx was not the right guide to economic policy.

link: Theocracy and Its Discontents | Newsweek International |


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