Iran’s Green Movement Shifts Gears

Iran’s Green Movement Shifts Gears

A number of recent moves suggest that Iran's mullahs and secular leaders are bridging their recent differences, even if their reconciliation is a begrudging one. These developments are not wholly unexpected. Essentially, the two sides are putting their political, confessional, and personal self-interest above all other considerations. But although the shift will result in a short-term loss of leadership figures for the opposition, the Green Movement's desire for sweeping change has now become mainstream.

Perhaps the most prominent among opposition leaders who have recently come in from the cold is former two-time president and consummate political survivor, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Having failed in his efforts to convince the Assembly of Experts to remove Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Rafsanjani once again accepted Khamenei's authority, claiming that "enemies' plots against Iran's Islamic system and the concept of velayat-e faqih [rule of the jurists] have been foiled." He then extolled his former foe as "the most qualified person to resolve the current problems," and even remarked fawningly, "The Supreme Leader has never endorsed extremism or transgression of the law by any political party."

The reasons for Rafsanjani's change of heart go beyond politics. His son, who was forced to flee Iran after having sided with the protestors, might now be permitted to return home, his wife and daughters, who led public demonstrations, may find their legal troubles soon over, and the family is likely to hold on to its financial fortune. So it is not surprising that he is now urging the Assembly of Experts and the general public to show "support for the Islamic Republic and safeguard the sacred Islamic system."

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