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Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Split in the Mullahs

The New York Times has this report.

An important group of religious leaders in Iran called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate on Saturday, an act of defiance against the country’s supreme leader and the most public sign of a major split in the country’s clerical establishment.

A statement by the group, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum,
represents a significant, if so far symbolic, setback for the government and especially the authority of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose word is supposed to be final. The government has tried to paint the opposition and its top presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, as criminals and traitors, a strategy that now becomes more difficult.

If you believe in the military concept of divide and conquer, then this is good news. One of the characteristics of a regime that's ripe to fall is one in which there is infighting. That means that pressure both from within and without know is what is necessary to see this regime fall.

Furthermore, as Ed Morrissey correctly points out, Khamenei invoked Allah in blessing the election. That Mullahs questioned its results takes on more significance in that context.

The next days and weeks will be critical. What this shows more than anything is that the revolution is anything but over. Nothing is yet settled and the regime has not put down the opposition, at least not yet. Now is the time for the opposition to continue to put pressure on the regime with demonstrations and even a general strike. From the outside , both economic and diplomatic isolation of the regime are necessary to apply the proper pressure to help facilitate the collapse of the regime.

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