Samstag, 20. Juni 2009

Iran: Now comes the tough part

The Supreme Leader's speech yesterday was indicative: The government, or more precisley the regime is going to crack down on the opposition if protests continue. The question hanging in the air in the last couple of hours was, whether Moussavi would eventually back down and end the protests with it. I hoped that he would not and now it looks like he is out and going to challenge the leadership. But in the face of yesterday's friday prayer by Ali Khamenei the question is: what next?

I am sure the regime is going to crackdown on the protests and if necessary by force. Over the past couple of years Iran has slowly but consistently moved away from being an Islamic Republic to a more traditional authoritarian state model. Most notably, Khamenei's credentials in religious thought have always been comparatively weak and Ahmadinejad has no religious credentials at all. More importantly, he has risen from the Pasadaran, the Revolutinary Guards and in recent years elevated more and more people with the same background into the inner circle of the regime. The clergy has been sidelined for quite a while now and the Islamic republic has turned more into a military regime, the most important power centres being in the hands of Ahmadinejad's henchmam. Given this background and the fact that Ahmadinejad's power rests on the Pasadaran and the Basij militias the regime will almost certainly use force, its their common background, their power base and the most immediately available tool. Nonetheless the regime's forces are outnumbered and in order to prevail for the regime, it will have to be a bloody crackdown.

So much rests on a wildcard that needs to be more carefully watched: on which side is the Iranian clergy going to end up? Will it back the regime and thereby even foster their own marginalisation or will they seek to reassert their position by backing the opposition and getting a stake in the future system of Iran? Let us watch closely, its the least we can do

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