By Geneive Abdo, RFE/RL
Iran's younger generation does not want a government that shuns Islamic principles or even a state that does not include clerics, as some in the West might think.
|Supporters of reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi held a rally in north Tehran, 16 June 2009 - photo by Syma Sayyah|
Rafsanjani, in making public his grievances with
Khamenei -- the man he helped get anointed as supreme leader - in letters he
wrote before and after the election, has exposed the seething and long-running
rift inside the political establishment. But Rafsanjani, Mir Hossein Musavi, and
those other disgruntled figures are also pragmatic; they are part of the
revolutionary generation that established the Islamic republic. In addition to
their own survival, their other utmost concern is the preservation of the system
they helped create. In the coming months and years, they will work to increase
their power, which has diminished due to the rise of Ahmadinejad and his
hard-line allies within the regime.
Now that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered an investigation into the election results that gave President Mahmud Ahmadinejad a landslide victory in the country's June 12 presidential election, conventional wisdom is that the nation's governing system is showing signs of collapse.
Indeed, Khamenei has a great dilemma on his hands: If the Guardians Council, the body appointed by him, declares in the coming 10 days that the election was rigged, this could be the death knell of the Islamic republic. Therefore, this is an unlikely scenario. But even if the guardians determine the election results should stand, Khamenei still faces the largest challenge to his rule since he was appointed in 1989.
He must not only answer to the millions of disenchanted voters who believe their voices do not matter and the thousands of street demonstrators, but more importantly, he now must contend with a divided establishment of warring political elites. Revolutionary figures who helped established the Islamic republic, such as former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, are now pitted against Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. And it is likely that much of the clerical mainstream in the holy Shi'ite city of Qom, who have publicly opposed Ahmadinejad, are also on Rafsanjani's side.
Most Likely Scenario
But despite this minor earthquake that has jolted theocratic rule, those hoping for a popular revolution are likely to be disappointed. Once the guardians announce that Ahmadinejad's victory is legitimate and the largest and most violent street demonstrations since the 1979 Revolution end, the likely scenario is that there will continue to be a fierce internal power struggle within the regime, but with no tangible benefits for the Iranian people.
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