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The Race for Iran


Yesterday, Hillary Mann Leverett appeared on Al Jazeera’s Riz Khan (click to view the program) to discuss recent developments in Iran.  As should come as no surprise to our readers, Hillary offered a very trenchant analysis of Iranian politics and U.S. policy toward Iran.  However, we are somewhat surprised that, when one of the other guests spoke with great enthusiasm about the “Green Movement” and the emergence of a real “opposition” in Iran that has gone beyond protesting the June 12 presidential election to wanting an entirely new political order, the producers showed film footage of crowds in the streets of Tehran in the first few days after the June 12 presidential election.  This seems, to us, to be potentially misleading. 

In fact, the number of people participating in the Ashura protests on December 27 was much smaller than either the crowds protesting in Tehran in the immediate aftermath of the June 12 election or the demonstrations organized to show public support for the Islamic Republic in June and, most recently, on December 30.  To underscore this point, we attach a series of pictures below (we are grateful to Ben Katcher for his help in putting these up on our site).  The photos on the left-hand side are images of the pro-Islamic Republic rally in Tehran on December 30.  The images on the right-hand side are images from the Ashura protests on December 27.     

As we predicted in June, the crowds initially protesting in Tehran (and, really, only in Tehran) after the presidential election quickly shrunk to a fraction of their original size.  Since then, there have been occasional, one-off flare ups of unrest, as on December 27.  But, as Hillary and I will discuss in greater detail in our next post, the Islamic Republic of Iran is not imploding, notwithstanding much Western commentary to the contrary.   

–Flynt Leverett

Pro-Iran 1


Pro-Iran 2


Pro-Iran 3


Pro-Iran 4


Pro-Iran 5


Pro-Iran 6

Pro-Iran 7



  1. Alfred says:

    For those who do not know: It should be mention, both Lankarani and Bahjat were loyal to Islamic Republic till their death.

  2. Alfred says:

    I have observed this attitude in many other programs, showing videos from June without mention it is archive.
    By the way, Mrs Azadeh Moaveni is completely wrong if she mentions the high inflation. In fact the inflation during Ahamdinejad’s term was never so high like Khatami’s term, see http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?v=71&c=ir&l=en

  3. A Scientist says:

    Moreover, many from Azerbaijan came to the funerals from Ayatullah Lankarani. Ayatullah Muntezari is rather an unknown person in the shia world, especially outside Iran. He get again popular after the election, but was never a major player due to his speeches against Ayatullah Khomeini (who is by the way still popular among the Reformists).

    Many westerns analysis are in deficit due to the fact that they have no deep insight in the Shia community and theology.

    – A scientist from the international University of Qum –

  4. Alan says:

    Ben – were there not pictures of far larger protest crowds at Montazeri’s funeral?