Dawn of a new republic in Iran?

But what kind of dawn, what kind of new day? Karroubi, Mousavi and Khatami seek a transformation within the system, brought about by a non-violent civil rights campaign that, in Khatami's words, seeks "the freedom we are all talking about...the freedom of speech..and assembly."

However, this goal may not be sufficient for their increasingly impatient followers, many of whom seek to topple rather than reform the Islamic Republic. Thus Khatami and his allies face a tricky balancing act: how to maintain credibility with the street while extending a hand to those in the regime who might still favor compromise.

Of course, there may very well be no objective basis for a strategy of conciliation. Still, from a purely tactical perspective the opposition may have much to gain from reaching out. This, after all, may be the only way to widen whatever fissures exist in a regime that not only still commands support among crucial segments of the populace, but which also has a massive security apparatus led by Revolutionary Guard commanders who view any compromise as the slippery slope to oblivion.

Rather than play into the hands of the hardliners, the leaders of the democratic opposition are seeking to discredit and isolate them. For Karroubi and allies, non-violent mobilization in the streets is not an alternative to compromise: instead, it is a basic prerequisite for shaming the regime into stepping back from the brink.

Do those who occupy high positions i... >>>

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