Wednesday, July 8, 2009

No calm after the storm in Iran.

Instead of calm after the storm, it seems there is definitely some bad weather in middle and upper levels in the Iranian system.

Massive demonstrations of past weeks have created, or exposed, cracks at the middle level, for example, among clerics in Qom who two days ago sent a letter calling the government illegitimate, and, to a lesser extent but albeit important way at the top in the Assembly of Experts. Karroubi (reformist candidate in recent elections) Khatami and Moussavi are the most visible representatives of this camp. The NYTimes reported on all of this today. Other news sources have also been reporting on it here and there.

This is not to say they have the upper hand or are alone in expressing feelings on the election. Hard liners and conservatives have been vocal in validating the elections. Qom seminary Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadai called the election 'case closed'. Ayatollah Muhammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, Ahmadinejad's spiritual leader, has dismissed the elections as 'window dressing'; they didn't, and don't, really matter in a religious system like the one in Iran. Or at least the one he envisions in Iran; the people most probably disagree with this vision. Here he mistakes the legitimacy of a government as purely religious, when Iranians seem to see legitimacy come from other sources, like their own will, their voice, popular elections.

Either way, the Iranian regime - Ayatollah Khamenei and Ahmadinejad - has lost a great deal of legitimacy. I found myself raising my eyebrows and a 'yeah right, good luck with that' smirk on my face when reading that the regime might arrest and try Moussavi and Khatami and other outspoken reformists who they call terrorists. What power do they have to do this, I thought to myself. Their loss of, and desperate struggle for, legitimacy is also visible in their attempts to dismiss protestors as foreign agents, an attempt to remove their legitimacy and return it to the Assembly taking their legitimacy and return to its 'proper' owners. (Please excuse excessive use and abuse of the word 'legitimacy' in this post and paragraph.)

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