Fears Growing as Iran Crisis Deepens

Longtime 3QD friend Hadi Ghaemi in The Huffington Post:

ScreenHunter_03 Jun. 19 10.24 What is happening in these days is a reflection of two such long-running tensions. One is the differences within the ruling elite that have mushroomed into what appears to be a full-scale confrontation over the recent election results.

The other underlying tension, which is unfolding daily in huge protests across the country, comes from the deep dissatisfaction of much of the population with social and political restrictions imposed on them by the state, coupled with failing economic policies.

Let us not confuse these two trends. One is a political catfight within the regime, and the other is an outburst of popular demands for greater civil liberties and basic freedoms, and for effective economic policies. The former is serving as a vehicle for the latter.

The huge participation of the electorate in Friday's election, over eighty percent, included many who had never before participated in the political process, but saw this as a unique opportunity to bring about positive change.

The disillusionment caused by the strongly contested election result quickly translated to an outpouring of protests on the streets because many people felt their sense of honor and integrity has been insulted beyond limit.

Meanwhile the political catfight continues to develop without any clear winner emerging. On one side of the equation are Ahmadinejad's government, the Revolutionary Guards commanders, and the Office of the Leader. The Leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, has clearly come out in support of this faction, although historically he had implied he acts only as an arbitrator of power, and is above factionalism. But this time his sympathies are squarely placed behind this camp, at least up to this point.

It is of the utmost importance that none of the Grand Ayatollahs and clerics in Qom has come forward to endorse the election results or congratulate Ahmadinejad. The core political conflict appears to be expressing itself in a fissure between Ayatollah Khamanei and the rest of the traditional clerical establishment in Qom.

More here.