Mr Khamenei has to weigh each step he takes knowing he has already lost the loyalty of half of the country. Mr Mousavi's past links to the Islamic Republic's founding father, Ayatollah Khomeini, has until now made him untouchable. And he represents a growing dilemma for a supreme leader who has unexpectedly lost his magic aura. Do nothing, and the crisis continues. Throw Mousavi in jail and Iran could become ungovernable. [...]Just the situation that would enable Obama to solve the Iran problem if not for a sinister force . . .
As the price for taking a strong line over settlements, Mr Obama has been placatory with Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, about the need to face up to Iran. Mr Netanyahu has made no secret of his desire to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. One way and another, Mr Obama has been bounced into setting an early September deadline for Iran to reply to the US offer of talks. [...]The idea here is that real pressure on Iran will suddenly make the Iranians stop having doubts and believe whatever the government says? Why doesn't this editor consider the possibility that disgust with Khomeinism on the part of ordinary Iranians has been building for years? If the current government brings effective sanctions down upon the heads of its unwilling subjects, I don't think it will suddenly recover the lost "loyalty of half the country." It hasn't had the loyalty of a substantial number of Iranians for a long time.
A premature conflict with the US over sanctions could prove the salvation of a beleaguered supreme leader and his tarnished president. The only way they can explain this level of domestic unrest to their nation is to blame it on the interference of foreign powers, Britain and the US – the old enemy behaving to stereotype. What chance then for Iran's opposition? Mr Obama does not need to follow this timetable, which is dictated more by Israel than it is by a considered US assessment of Iran's uranium enrichment capacity. Mr Obama should not hand Ayatollah Khamenei victory on a plate.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad