Iran on the Brink

The Green Movement’s leaders are calling supporters to the streets, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is rallying his side with nuclear brinksmanship—and the clashes expected Thursday for the Islamic Republic’s 31st anniversary could spell civil war. It began last summer as a protest over a disputed presidential election. It blossomed last fall into an awe-inspiring revolt against the very nature of the regime. Now, on the eve of the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic, as Iran braces for what could be the largest and most violent demonstrations since the election that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, the country may be on the brink of civil war. Thursday, February 11—or 22 Bahman in the Persian calendar—is the most important national holiday in Iran, a day in which the regime celebrates the 1979 revolution that toppled the dictatorship of the country’s Western-backed shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Every year on this date, Iran’s religious and political leaders try to reignite the revolutionary fervor that gave birth to the Islamic Republic. Speeches tout the revolution’s accomplishments. Military parades show off the country’s newest weapons. The airwaves are filled with news and mini-documentaries about the corruption and human-rights abuses of the shah and the sacrifices made by the revolution’s leaders to force him from power. This year, some of the revolutionary leaders whose sacrifices helped topple the shah three decades ago have pro… >>>

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