In the New Republic, Ali Reza Eshraghi wonders if Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei “has expedited his own fall by touching the third rail of Iranian politics”:

During his August 3 speech formally endorsing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned protesters that “by imitation of Ayatollah Khomeini, they cannot deceive people.” Khamenei was mocking the opposition’s claim to be to reviving “the values of Ayatollah Khomeini”—the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Khamenei’s predecessor as Supreme Leader. Ironically, Khamenei made this statement while seated below a large, framed picture of Khomeini.

This scene provides a stark illustration of the fact that politics in Iran are largely defined by attempts to claim Khomeini’s legacy. Staying faithful to his ideology has been the litmus test for all political activity in the Islamic Republic. Reformists fight for women’s rights, democracy, and civil-military divide—often under the auspices of Khomeini’s pronouncements and writings. And despite the fact that the position of Supreme Leader is supposed to translate into ultimate power in Iran, Khamenei has been severely limited by the traditions and doctrines of his predecessor.


But as the regime and the opposition both fight to be Khomeini’s rightful inheritors, the real deciders are Khomeini’s own family members—often referred to as Beit-e-Imam. In Shi’ite tradition, these relatives are considered the guardians and true interpreters of an imam’s thoughts. And in Khomeini’s case, surprisingly, they are disproportionately supporting Mousavi and the opposition.

Read the entire article here.