Verdenssamfunnet må ikke forledes til å tro at regimet har vunnet, selv om protestene er mindre synlige. Det har oppstått en synlig og dyp kløft mellom regimet og folket, i den grad at legitimiteten er borte. Folk ser på Den øverste leder, Ali Khamenei, som en sjah med turban.

Et tegn på systemkrise er at også en fløy innen eliten åpent støtter opposjonen. At 105 av 285 representanter ikke møtte frem for å feire Ahmadinejads «seier», er et dramatisk bevis på dette, skriver Karim Sadjadpour.

The Iranian regime – which increasingly implies Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a turbaned Shah with a medieval mindset – has not left itself much room to manoeuvre. Khamenei strongly supported President Ahmadinejad’s bid for re-election, referred to his «victory» as a «divine blessing,» and denounced allegations of fraud.

Despite the popular outcry, Khamenei is unlikely to cede ground, believing that compromise projects weakness and could embolden the opposition and the population. The Guardian Council – an important governmental organ which Khamenei has at his disposal – insisted that allegations of election fraud by the opposition had proved groundless, despite «10 days of examination.»

In order to enforce Khamenei’s edicts, the regime’s shock troops will continue to have full authorisation to use force, and the more radical elements of the Basij militia – a kind of a cross between Hell’s Angels and Al-Qa’ida – continue to do so with enthusiasm.

What is significant, however, is that Khamenei’s normally trusted servants have begun publicly expressing their misgivings. Ali Larijani, the powerful speaker of Parliament, declared that opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi should be given a chance to voice his views on state television.

The popular mayor of Tehran, the former Revolutionary Guard commander and Ahmadinejad foe Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf, has asked that people be allowed to protest peacefully. And though the conservative Iranian parliament was invited to attend a celebration for Ahmadinejad’s victory, only 105 of 280 MPs showed up.

This is not to mention the sense of outrage and injustice among the opposition, as well as wide swathes of Iranian society, which is unlikely to subside any time soon.

On the contrary, the regime’s indiscriminate use of violence – graphic videos show how women, the elderly, and even children have been targeted – has only further eroded people’s respect for the government.

The crackdown has moved the opposition into a new phase. Instead of mass rallies, it is now focusing on civil disobedience, including strikes among bazaar traders, laborers, and in key arteries of the Iranian economy like the petroleum industry.

The author is an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace

Karim Sadjadpour: The crowds have gone but Tehran has changed forever

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