Ayatollah Khamenei Faces Long Term Challenge of Discontent Among Clerics

Protests Subside, But What Is Clerics' Next Move?

Iranian opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi has vowed to continue his campaign against the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which he has maintained is illegitimate in the wake of last month’s contested elections. Still, it seems the violent demonstrations have subsided, and Iran has returned to relative normalcy.

At least superficially. Privately many members of Iran’s powerful clergy remain dissatisfied with the reaction of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and a growing number are willing to publicly criticize both the vote and Khamenei.

In the end, the resentment and growing opposition in the clergy could prove a serious threat to Khamenei’s grip on power, and may well be a problem for him to deal with long after the contested presidential election is nothing more than a memory.

Still, it remains unclear just how far opposing ayatollahs will be willing to go against Khamenei’s rule. Nevertheless, the Iranian government appears to be facing one of the worst domestic crises of confidence since the 1979 revolution.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.