Iran to release one of three US hikers amid pressures at home and abroad
In addition to facing outside pressures on nuclear initiatives and human rights issues such as the US hikers, Iranian officials still fear the opposition Green Movement at home.
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“They are constantly testing and probing to see how far they can go. And that cat-and-mouse game will continue, probably indefinitely,” says Anoushiravan Ehteshami, an Iran expert at Durham University in England.Skip to next paragraph
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“It tells me that, despite the virtual blanket black-out that [opposition leaders] have had to endure, their popular space remains strong. It may not be a reflection of their strength, but rather the continuing fragility of the governing coalition,” says Professor Ehteshami, author of a book on the rise of Iran’s neo-conservatives.
And Karroubi spoke of that weakness, when he chastised the “camp of the totalitarian dictator [where] despair and hopelessness, division and doubt” reigned supreme.
“A group of rogue elements? Iran’s vast intelligence, security, judiciary, and military forces, who claim to have control over the world, claim to be incapable of identifying and punishing them!” Karroubi wrote. “They are trying to cover a lie with another lie….”
Where Iran's hubris comes from
Criticism spread far beyond Iran’s borders, of actions in Iran against the opposition.
“It is definitely our policy to support freedom and human rights inside Iran. And we have done so by speaking out,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday. “We have strongly condemned the actions of the Iranian government, and continue to do so. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Iran is morphing into a military dictatorship with a sort of religious ideological veneer.”
Despite such outside pressure, Iran’s top leadership has repeatedly affirmed that it is in complete control and its enemies – notably the US, Israel, the West, and those Iranians "inspired" by them – are failing.
“The front opposing us is not just unloved, but is also hated. Their flags and pictures are burned and their [effigies] stepped on…. America has a bitter experience of their military operations,” Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, said in a speech last month.
Iran, by contrast, has huge global support, said Ayatollah Khamenei, and “has been successful wherever it felt that it was duty-bound to go. This is confessed by everyone. This is why our opponents are very unhappy.”
“There is a strong element of hubris, that they are invincible,” says Ehteshami. “But at the same time, [some ranking conservatives] are acutely aware of the structural weaknesses that the system has, and are therefore much more measured.”
That was the point some have drawn from the assault on the Karroubi residence last week.
“Of course this is a sign of weakness. What would happen if Karroubi would go to Qods [Jerusalem] Day? Maybe they feel this will give enough encouragement to the Greens to come again,” says Mrs. Haghighatjou, the teacher in Boston.
“More than slogans, they are afraid that if they allow the Greens to come to the street, this coming to the street will continue, and they want to show to the West that the Green Movement is over….They want to say that the Green Movement is dead. [Proof to the contrary] is their main fear.”