The Green Movement at One Year
Muhammad Sahimi / Tehran Bureau

But last year's election showed that the ruling establishment is no longer willing to accept displeasing outcomes, because it recognizes that it cannot win competitive elections, let alone democratic and fair ones. It thus resorted to fraud.

As a result, the hardline leadership lost any residual legitimacy that it might have had, not only in Iran, but around the globe as well. It can no longer boast to the people of the Middle East and the Islamic world about its "religious democracy." The process of voting was turned into an exercise in futility. There is no point in participating in the electoral process when there is no guarantee that the opposition can run and people's votes will be respected. In my view, this is the first important fruit of the Green Movement: It forced the hardliners, in order to retain power, to transform the elections from a dynamic process to a meaningless event, thereby annulling any rightful claim to that power.

The second important change in Iran's political scene is that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei became a direct, public target of people's anger. His role in creating the crisis that the nation faces, his decision to take sides with a small coterie against a very large majority, his condoning of violence -- as in his Friday Prayer sermon last June 19 -- have transformed him into a despicable figure in the eyes of many Iranians. An important psychological barrier has been broken: Khamenei is now explicitly held responsible for the ill... >>>

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