Iran grapples with how to deal with Protests

Ahmadinejad also organized a sit-in at the shrine of Shah Abdul Azim near Tehran in protest of measures against his close aides. His steps are seen as an escalation, and his choice of means, a sit-in at a religious site, is a historical practice that was used by several Iranian movements and politicians before the Islamic revolution.

But Ahmadinejad’s case remains a problem from within the system. The protesters are proving day after day that besides raising socio-economic slogans, they are challenging the whole system. This is attracting all of the anti-establishment forces — from royalists to the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and secularists. These anti-establishment forces are backing the protesters with the help of regional and international political figures and media from countries that regard the Islamic Republic as an adversary, such as Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Iran’s revolutionary institutions decided that the best response to this wave would be to get people marching in the streets showing support for the Islamic Republic and denouncing foreign intervention. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke at a gathering Jan. 2 stressing that in recent events “enemies of Iran have allied and used the various means they possess, including money, weapons, politics and intelligence services, to trouble the Islamic Republic. The enemy is always looking for an opportunity and any crevice to infiltrate and strike the Iranian nation.”

The supreme leader also promised he’s going to say something about these events when the time is right. It remains to be seen when that will be.

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