Sources inside Iran say that the opposition movement that returned to the streets yesterday is no longer driven by electoral loyalties, but by a rejection of the "election coup" that concentrated power in a small and radical faction of the Iranian political elite. While the causes of popular discontent are relatively easy to trace, explaining the struggle within the establishment is less straightforward. Two interpretations have emerged as the dominant narratives.
The first focuses on the tug-of-war between Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of the Expediency Council and Assembly of Experts. Both men are historical pillars of the revolution and two of the most powerful political figures in Iran. Because the Assembly of Experts is the only body that can theoretically remove the supreme leader, the split within the Iranian establishment has been framed as a personal power struggle between the two.
However, there is another layer to this struggle, involving ideological differences that have been building up within the Iranian establishment for some time. If these faultlines have been clear for a while, what's less obvious is why Khamenei has decided to put all his political eggs in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's conservative, messianic basket by backing him in the aftermath of June 12.