November 2, 2022 | The Wall Street Journal

Iran’s Hard-Liners Are Starting to Crack

Even regime stalwarts are criticizing Khamenei, which hasn’t happened during previous revolts.
November 2, 2022 | The Wall Street Journal

Iran’s Hard-Liners Are Starting to Crack

Even regime stalwarts are criticizing Khamenei, which hasn’t happened during previous revolts.

Excerpt

This time is different. The Iranian people have been protesting in the streets for more than a month since the morality police beat a young woman to death for reportedly failing to wear a headscarf. Now even Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s allies are distancing themselves from the government. It’s too soon to say the elite is fracturing, but it’s clear that these divisions will widen, putting unprecedented stress on the regime.

For four decades, regime loyalists have united in times of crisis. When reformers threatened the system in the late 1990s, moderates and hard-liners worked together to crush the threat. It’s telling that today many influential conservatives display little compunction about criticizing Mr. Khamenei and his henchmen.

Take Ali Larijani, who was the longest serving speaker of Parliament and is still one Mr. Khamenei’s advisers. He’s never been known to care about women’s rights. He’s been an ardent defender of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and sycophantic toward Mr. Khamenei. But in a recent interview with the Iranian paper Ettela’at, he decried the rigid imposition of the hijab and insisted, “Dialogue is necessary, and it has to be substantive. We must provide the public venues for protest and a means of conducting a dialogue.”

Mr. Gerecht, a former Iranian-targets officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Follow Reuel on Twitter @ReuelMGerecht. FDD is a nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

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Issues:

Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Human Rights Iran Politics and Economy