The funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri on Dec. 21, and the Ashura demonstrations on Dec. 27, marked a turning point for Iran’s democratic movement. The demonstrations showed that even after a violent six-month crackdown on peaceful protesters, political figures, journalists, and human right advocates, the Green Movement has not been weakened, but that it has strengthened and expanded to many cities and towns around the country. This is already a significant victory for the Green Movement. The question is: where is the Green Movement going to go from here?
First off, let’s be realistic. Many Iranians would like to believe that the hardline regime is in its death throes. But such optimism must be tempered. The hardliners’ ability to maintain power through force has not been diminished and is likely to outlast the Islamic Republic’s crisis of legitimacy. The struggle for democracy in Iran is a Marathon, not a sprint. There is still a long way to go.
Reports indicate that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has moved anti-riot armored vehicles into Tehran and other large cities. This means that although the Green Movement is much stronger than at its inception, the near future may not bring an all-out victory or defeat, but cycles of unrest and repression, unless the Movement takes its next steps carefully and realistically. What are those steps?
First and foremost, the Green Movement must continue to act in a nonviolent manner. The c… >>>