It is fruitless to speculate whether a tipping point has been achieved by Iran’s burgeoning opposition movement. But after the weekend’s protest marches in which at least eight people and probably many more died, we do know that the movement is both exceptionally resilient and spreading. What started out as a loose-knit coalition of reformist groups led by defeated opposition candidates protesting rampant fraud in the presidential election is becoming bolder, more focused and angrier by the week. Many protesters on the streets of Tehran on Sunday did not even cover their faces in the videos uploaded to YouTube, as they did in the post-election protests six months ago. The crowds displayed great bravery, refusing to retreat under police baton charges and volleys of warning shots. The other feature of the internet clips was the scenes of policemen either being overwhelmed or giving up and walking away. The protest is also going national. Opposition websites reported clashes in Qom and seven other cities in central, northern and eastern Iran. None of this seems likely to melt away.
If the protesters are getting bolder, there is, however, little sense that the Revolutionary Guards, loyal to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are losing their grip. Yesterday they arrested at least 10 leading opposition figures, three of them advisers to the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. The day before, they killed his nephew. According to one opposition website, Ali Hab… >>>