Khamenei: Failing the Test
Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, warned today that continuing divisions would lead to the collapse of the country’s ruling elite, after a former president called for a referendum on the government’s legitimacy.
The referendum call from Mohammad Khatami appeared to be part of an opposition strategy to keep Khamenei and allied hardliners on the defensive over last month’s disputed elections.
It coincided with a demand from Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leading opposition candidate in those elections, for the release of opposition supporters detained for protesting against the official results, which gave a landslide victory to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Another former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, gave a speech at Friday prayers in which he said the Islamic Republic was in crisis and the government had lost the trust of millions of Iranians.
Khamenei, whose previously unquestioned authority is now under daily challenge, hit back furiously. “The elite should be watchful, since they have been faced with a big test. Failing the test will cause their collapse,” the supreme leader said, in a speech to mark a religious holiday, attended by government officials including Ahmadinejad, who sat on the stage behind him.
For some reason I don’t find the collapse of Iran’s ruling elite a disturbing prospect. Perhaps I’m not the target demographic.