Nearly lost in all the media coverage of protests and people power in Iran is what one faction of the divided Iranian regime establishment just did to the others.
A few days ago at RealClearWorld, Kevin Sullivan called it a coup.
Iran hawks prefer to label the Iranian police state as simply “The Mullahs,” but the legitimate clerics in this dispute are the ones standing with Mir-Hossein Mousavi against ONE Mullah and his secular police apparatus. If the election has been rigged in such a fashion, then what you are in fact seeing is the dropping of religious pretense in the “Islamic” Republic of Iran. This is a secular police state in action.
Yesterday, Danielle Pletka and Ali Alfoneh at the American Enterprise Institute published a piece in the New York Times detailing how Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spent the last four years placing Revolutionary Guard officers in positions of power all over the country. He and “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei heeded warnings by Guard commanders that the Islamic Republic might eventually succumb to a “soft regime change” or an “orange revolution” if hardliners weren’t firmly in control of the country.
“In the most dramatic turnabout since the 1979 revolution,” they wrote, “Iran has evolved from theocratic state to military dictatorship.”
If this analysis is correct – and right now, it looks like it is – the White House may need to start over from scratch. Iran is the same country it was a week ago, but it no longer has quite the same government.
Some will argue that Mr. Ahmadinejad may be in a conciliatory mood because he needs talks with the United States to underscore his own legitimacy, but that can only be read as a self-serving Washington perspective. Meanwhile, the Iranian people will have suffered the consolidation of power by a ruthless regime and the transformation of a theocracy to an ideological military dictatorship. That Iran neither needs nor wants accommodation with the West.