Gjesteskribent

BBC Worlds utenriksredaktør, John Simpson, har vært 20 ganger i Iran på 30 år. Det han opplevde denne gang må han helt tilbake til 1979 for å finne maken til: regimet er isolert, ikke bare fra folket, men også sine tjenere: på alle nivåer viste tjenestemenn misnøye med Khamenei/Ahmadinejad og sympati for opposisjonen. Når selv offiserer i Revolusjonsgarden kommer snikende som en Nikodemus om natten og sier: «husk hva jeg gjorde for BBC», er noe på gang. Disse menneskene tror ikke at regimet kommer til å vare.

For reasons best not explained, I’ve come to know a former member of the Revolutionary Guards really well.

He’s done some pretty dreadful things in his life, from attacking women in the streets for not wearing the full Islamic gear to fighting alongside Islamic revolutionaries in countries abroad.

And yet now, in the tumult that has gripped Iran since its elections last week, he’s had a change of heart.

He’s become a backer of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the reformist candidate who alleges fraud in the elections. He’s saved up the money to send his son to a private school abroad, and he loathes President Ahmadinejad.

He’s not the only one.

I had to leave Iran last Sunday, when the authorities refused to renew my visa. But before I left, another former senior Revolutionary Guard came to our hotel to see us.

«Remember me,» he pleaded. «Remember that I helped the BBC.»

I realised that even a person so intimately linked to the Islamic Revolution thinks that something will soon change in Iran.

The 11 extraordinary days I spent there was my 20th visit in 30 years. I’ve been reviewing the material we recorded, taking a second look at what was really going on.

I think that these last weeks may turn out to be as momentous as the Islamic Revolution I witnessed there 30 years ago.

The Revolutionary Guards with second thoughts illustrate some of the deeper forces driving a crisis which I believe could change Iran forever.

Torn fabric

The first big change is that nowadays in Iran, even when you meet an official you can’t necessarily tell which side they’re on.

It’s as if the fabric of the Islamic Revolution itself has been torn; so much so that individual government ministers, civil servants, Republican Guards, senior military men, and all sorts of others, have taken sides, reflecting a power struggle at the very top.

You can see this reflected on the streets in all sorts of ways. In the protests, for example, where the crowds were bold enough to protect our BBC team from secret policemen.

Driving around Tehran gathering TV material, we often found ourselves in difficult situations as authorities clashed with crowds of protesters chanting slogans like: «We want freedom.»

In one memorable incident, a group of street demonstrators actually chased away a man in plain clothes from the once-feared state security.

They felt brave enough to do it because they know that many within the state system itself are actually backing Mr Mousavi and the protests.

Apologetic

After we were ordered to leave Iran, we went around to the Ershad, the Islamic Guidance Ministry, which supervises foreign journalists.

We expected to be scolded and intimidated. But, in fact, the body language of the person who spoke with us was bizarrely apologetic.

The official said we could stay in the country a little longer and «do our shopping» – a code for our work.

This was accompanied simply by a warning not to get arrested by the police.

It illustrates the split that goes all the way through Iranian society.

12. juni har vist at det går en uoverstigelig kløft mellom de to på toppen og folket. Den setter hele republikken i fare. Folk som Rafsanjani ønsker å redde den islamske republikken, men det er trolig for sent allerede.

«This is a turning point,» says Nader Hashemi, author of Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy: Toward a Democratic Theory for Muslim Societies. «The Islamic republic is facing a deep crisis of legitimacy at this moment. There is a very politicized and very discontented society that is pushing for greater change and accountability within Iran’s political system.»

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