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December 29th, 2009
10:37 AM ET

The Tipping Point in Iran

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/29/iran.opposition.protest.jpg]

Abbas Milani
Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University

When millions of peaceful demonstrators took to the streets of big Iranian cities in June to protest what was widely assumed to be a stolen election, many in the West wondered whether the movement had the will and vision to sustain itself.

Apologists for the regime here in America and in Iran dismissed the democratic protests as the angst of a small minority of Westernized yuppies or discontented academics. Clerics loyal to the regime used the incendiary language of class warfare. They dismissed the opposition as accomplices of the Great Satan and a small minority composed of wealthy urbanites fighting to reverse the gains the poor—mustazaf—have made around the country.

Over the past six months the regime has killed dozens of demonstrators, arrested hundreds of activists, and forced hundreds of others into exile. It took false comfort in the belief that it had defeated what it self-deludingly claimed had been nothing but an American-concocted velvet revolution.

This weekend's bloody protests during the holiday of Ashura culminate a pattern of persistence and perseverance on the part of the opposition. There can now be little doubt about the movement's staying power.

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Filed under: Iran
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Tim Gibson

    While we must remain outside of activity on the ground in Iran, sanctions are also a double edged sword in that when the people begin to feel the squeeze they will turn on the US as an enemy.

    December 29, 2009 at 11:27 am |