After Violence, Compromise?
Nico Pitney, Robert Mackey and Andrew Sullivan compile a lot of information this morning about an uptick in violent regime harassment of the Iranian dissidents. It’s looking increasingly ugly at a critical moment. Even so, over at Time, Tony Karon considers whether the protest movement’s ability to force the regime’s hand might still lead the regime to seek a compromise, as it probably won’t be able to completely suppress all the protesters without losing legitimacy:
Such a compromise may be shaped by the battles inside the corridors of power. The clergy, whose blessings are a key source of legitimacy for the regime, is clearly divided over the government’s handling of the election and its aftermath. Much has been made of the fact that the Assembly of Experts, the 86-member clerical body that picks the Supreme Leader, also has the right to remove him from office, and there has been speculation that former President and Mousavi ally Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who chairs the Assembly, has been lobbying clerics to rebuke Khamenei’s handling of the debacle. Whatever the reality, there’s little doubt that many of Iran’s senior clerics view Khamenei as having degraded the principle of a clerical Supreme Leader acting as a guide and arbiter to the regime’s factional battles. Khamenei has clearly become a partisan participant.
This really does hinge on unknowable questions about the rationality of various regime personages. We don’t really know what Rafsanjani is doing. But let’s say he is indeed trying to oust Khamanei. And let’s further say he succeeds. Would whatever governing arrangement comes next be prepared for a re-vote? What would its relationship be with the security apparatus? How would it consolidate its control if there’s a sudden ouster? All these questions precede any move for a “compromise.” We shouldn’t presume that an anti-Khamenei Assembly of Experts is necessarily more prepared to compromise, or even has the leverage to offer a compromise that the opposition can accept.