Accusations that the June elections in Iran were fraudulent have brought to light a growing rift inside Iran. The regime is faced with serious confrontations on several fronts. One of the highest profile opponents of the regime is the opposition, which is led, at least on the street, by young people, a dynamic and potentially explosive part of the Iranian population. The regime is also facing a confrontation within itself, with divisions appearing between regime members who are all part of the revolution and the revolutionary state. A third and critical challenge is coming from among the powerful clerics in Iran.

Paul Salem contends that the crisis in Iran “is large and serious, but the regime is also powerful and can sustain itself, so it’s hard to say if this crisis will lead to a fundamental change or a breakdown or whether it will just be an open-ended crisis for months and years to come.” As the protests continue, the opposition is widening its appeal, calling not only for addressing the charges of fraud in the June elections but also for wider issues, such as cultural and political freedoms.

The most serious development of these protests, however, has been the criticisms of Ayatollah Khamenei. These challenges to Khamenei “really breaks the sanctity, breaks the aura, of the Islamic state in an unprecedented way and throws open the question of demands for real constitutional change of the system, not just holding another election or changing the president.”