THE situation in Iran is still not settled. After a week or so during which those challenging the legitimacy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election have kept a low profile, three of them surfaced on Monday with critical observations on the election. The most important was Hashemi Rafsanjani, a senior cleric and former President, who declared the Islamic republic to be in crisis; Rafsanjani bestrides Iran's religious, political and commercial life and is not a figure to be ignored. He was supported by Mohammad Khatami, also a former President with reforming instincts, who proposed that a referendum should be held on whether or not the public is satisfied with the outcome of the presidential poll. The third voice to be heard was Hossein Mousavi's, the moderate former prime minister who many believe defeated Ahmadinejad in the election; he spoke of “an awakened nation, a nation that has been born again.” Whether or not these three moves were co-ordinated does not really matter.
They clearly shook the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, who issued threats against those who “want to move the nation to insecurity”, adding, “There are things that should not be said. If we say them, we have moved against the nation.” How these matters will be resolved is impossible for an outsider to say. The key issue is probably whether enough clerics can be dislodged from total loyalty to the Supreme Leader. If they can be, big changes would follow.


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