Iran today: 1979 revolution redux?
Reformers hope to fulfill the work they began 30 years ago.
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Vast numbers of Iranians are supporting him for myriad reasons, pinning their diverse desires on his candidacy in much the same way American voters were drawn to President Obama. His growing legion of supporters demonstrates that a large number of Iranians are still seeking fundamental reversal in Iranian society.Skip to next paragraph
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Most significant for the reformers, their old adversaries in the early days of the revolutionary process – the likes of Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's former president who, like Mr. Mousavi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a product of the establishment – have come out against the current regime and are also seeking change in Iran. Over the years, Mr. Rafsanjani has transformed his platform to be more aligned with the reformers who never gave up their revolutionary ideals. Iran's current establishment is fracturing, with many former establishment officials splitting off and cleaving to the reform movement.
If this were just any election controversy, Iran's reformers would have done what they did during the last election – stay home and not cast a vote in protest against the government. Instead, Mousavi's supporters are recalling a tactic of the early days of the revolution in 1979 by climbing on their rooftops and shouting, "Allahu Abkar" and "La Ilah il Allah" – God is Great and There is no God by God – a pointed rebuke of Iran's Supreme Council, which has become illegitimate in the minds of many Iranians.
However, in order for the reformers to realize the full potential of the opportunity brought on by the regime's election rigging and resolve Iran's ongoing revolution – they must quickly regroup. The clerical regime has not stood by as the reformers took to the streets. Instead they have efficiently infiltrated the protesters, intimidated through violence and arrest, and caused doubt among those who were caught up in the initial excitement of the reformers' protests.
Iranian reformers must keep the world's attention through their peaceful protests and strikes. They must hold onto the new among their ranks – giving them reason and hope to risk their safety and, potentially, their lives.
Observers have long said that Iran is a country of contradictions and those contradictions are, in part, a product of Iran's unresolved revolution. Iran's foray into clerical rule could turn out to be merely Phase 1 in Iran's extended revolution.
Likewise, the recent uprisings could be a decisive turning point or just another step along the long journey toward realizing the reformers' revolutionary ideals. It all depends on whether the reformers can bravely regroup in the face of the government crackdown, keep the momentum alive, and deal the decisive blow.