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Iran’s house of cards teeters on the brink
Iran’s clerics are facing a crisis of legitimacy that could see the end of the Islamic Republic in its current form, says Trends magazine.
March 8, 2010 5:18 by Iason Athanasiadis
The Sepah [Revolutionary Guard] has stepped into the breach, carrying out over the past four years what some call a silent putsch. Ahmadinejad has close Sepah connections and appointed a swathe of Iran-Iraq War veterans into sensitive political positions after his 2005 election.
While the Guard itself is comprised of only 150,000 men, its influence is great and it controls lucrative construction, telecommunications, and import-export interests.
The Sepah also controls Iran’s sophisticated electronic warfare capabilities and ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Since the summer the Revolutionary Guard has increasingly muscled into the Intelligence Ministry’s traditional domain of internal security, establishing a parallel intelligence apparatus for the capital city after President Ahmadinejad forced Intelligence Minister Mohsen Ejhei to resign.
As the slogans get more rejectionist, the psychological war mounts, with loyalists and opposition exchanging claim and counter-claim. But the Islamic Republic appears to be on the defensive for the first time; one diplomat who was in Tehran over the summer described the events as “the first time in 30 years the regime thought it was about to be overthrown.”
“The current regime has broken the social bonds that tie it to the public and thus is eventually due to fall,” said Bill Beeman, a Persian-speaking Iran expert who is professor at the department of anthropology at the University of Minnesota. “Killing people on Ashura is a complete symbolic disaster. Even the Shah didn’t execute prisoners on Ashura – and these folks are supposed to be religious!”
Even should the Islamic Republic collapse, there is no evidence of a plan for the day after. “It’s not a Revolution but a continuous collapse of the institution,” said Pedde. “There are elements which are similar to 1979 – their use of public events to promote major clashes, for example, but we don’t see any leadership or even a plan of action.”
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