Iran stands on a precipice. The opposition demonstrators have lost all their old fear of the authorities, as the escalating protests of recent days show. But the regime shows no sign of giving in either. An unstoppable force meets an immovable object.
What the ultimate result of this clash is, and how it will unfold chronologically, no one can predict with any accuracy, though it seems that the writing may be on the wall for the men in power in Tehran.
What we do know, meanwhile, because the authorities have confirmed it, is that at least eight people died in a series of clashes in the capital and elsewhere, which erupted following the death of a prominent opposition cleric.
The official death toll is almost certainly a considerable understatement, which means the burgeoning pro-democracy movement in Iran already has a fairly lengthy roll call of martyrs.