The Struggle for Mastery in Iran

TEHERAN: The trial of thirteen Iranian Jews on espionage charges is but the latest sign of a conservative backlash against Iran's reform movement, headed by President Mohammed Khatami. Conservatives want not only to silence the reformers, but to provoke confrontation.

Closure of pro-reform newspapers, and the arrests of reform-minded journalists seem deliberate attempts to goad the reformers, who won a majority of seats in last February's first round of parliamentary elections. For if the reformers are incited into demonstrating and street chaos ensues, the security forces will have a handy excuse for a crackdown. In the state of emergency likely to follow, installation of a new parliament might be delayed.

Recognizing this, reform leaders urge restraint on their supporters. They are confident about eventual triumph, because the majority of youth and women support reform. Two thirds of Iran's 65 million people are under 25 years old. But young people in Iran, as everywhere, are not known for patience. Here lies the threat of unrest.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.