With little progress having been made negotiating with Iran about its nuclear program, the UN is now considering a new round of sanctions. This is an interesting development coupled with a story in the NY Times about Monday’s demonstrations against the Islamic Republic. As the story notes, it seems that Moussavi is no longer on the protesters’ minds, as they have become more and more vocal about their opposition to Khamenei and the entire government. “The protesters, most of them young people, took direct aim at Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, chanting, “Khamenei knows his time is up!” They held up flags from which the “Allah” symbol — added after Iran’s 1979 revolution — had been removed. Most shocking of all, some burned an image of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the revolution.”

This is not surprising, since Moussavi never really seemed comfortable with becoming the leader of a radically oppositional movement, as some Iranians (and Western observers) had hoped. Since the summer, he has faced internal pressure from the heads of state and, facing the alternatives between becoming a radical outsider and a complier with the regime, has not been able to carve out a niche for himself as a reformer.

One has to wonder how these continuing protests play into the Islamic Republic’s unwavering stance on pursuing nuclear weapons. It seems that Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have hoped that attaining nuclear status will sway the regional balance of power enough in Iran’s favor to pacify the oppositional movements and get a substantial populist backing. It remains to be seen whether the protesters can muster enough force in the face of regular military crackdowns to get the government to reevaluate this policy.

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