Iran’s Hard-Liners Crack Down as Their Base of Support Narrows

Iran’s Hard-Liners Crack Down as Their Base of Support Narrows
Iranians in line at a polling station during the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections, Qom, Feb. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

There is a crackdown underway in Iran. But it is no longer just a crackdown on dissent. Rather it is an attempt to crush views or expressions that depart from the insular and rigid worldview of an increasingly small band of hard-liners.

It is not opposition parties, secularists or even reformists that are the latest targets of repression, but longtime insiders and scions of the Islamic Republic; a conservative and clerically vetted president and his administration; and revered cultural figures whose music, art and writings have long been the pride of Iranians.

These are the new targets of repression, and they are indicative of a shifting domestic political context in Iran in which the base of the regime is shrinking, the range of permitted views is narrowing, and the gulf between the state and society is widening. As a result, this base is fearful and reactive. It is made up of the Revolutionary Guards, intelligence and security agencies, the judiciary, hard-line members of Iran’s parliament, ultraconservative clerics, and above all the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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