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Iran protesters: Strength in decentralization, says former White House Iran aide

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As Iran cracks down on opposition protesters and jails dissidents, Gary Sick, a close Iran watcher since he was chief White House aide on Iran at the time of the Islamic Revolution, has a counterintuitive take on the prospects for the Green Movement: The movement lacks a leader, and to his mind, that's a plus.

“I personally think there is great strength in the fact that they don’t have one person at the top,” says Mr. Sick, who sat on the National Security Council for presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. “There is no leader to arrest. They arrest a bunch of people and a bunch more show up the next time.”

Iran has arrested hundreds of political dissidents – and executed some of them - since the disputed June election that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Iran currently has more journalists in detention than any country in the world.

Yet while Burmese dissidents rally around Aung San Suu Kyi and Tibetans revere the Dalai Lama, Iran’s opposition Green Movement is leaderless. This is an asset to the movement, though it also means that the protesters lack a clear ideology or agenda, spelling confusion for US foreign policy.

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