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Iran's protests do not a revolution make

Ahmadinejad's reelection signals an end to an internal power struggle that has been under way for 20 years.

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Many believed the election in Iran was going to mark a new beginning for the Islamic republic. But that was before Iran stood defiant before the world and declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad president in an election that was likely rigged. In fact, his reelection signals an end to an internal struggle that has been under way for 20 years.

This less-than transparent electoral process also indicates that Iran will not fundamentally change just because there is a vocal opposition movement staging street demonstrations and some bold political leaders denouncing the election as illegitimate. Nor will it change because the supreme leader ordered a fraud probe in order to calm protesters.

Yes, Iran is polarized and even traditional conservatives – such as former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani – have now found common cause with restive youth and women taking to the streets and demanding reform.

Yes, there is now a significant divide within the once united conservative faction; some who are trying to undermine Ahmadinejad are pitted against those within the inner circle of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who back the president.

And Iranian society is clearly split along generational lines between the young, who comprise a majority of the population, and an older generation that is more religious and conservative.

But Ahmadinejad's reelection has once and for all consolidated power around Mr. Khamenei, the military, and the circle of hard-line political elites who form the core of the Iranian regime. The battle between this faction and all others has been waged in varying degrees since the 1989 death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the state in 1979.


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