Roger Cohen's latest piece from Iran:

I said the Islamic Republic has been weakened. Why? I see five principal factors. The first is that the supreme leader’s post the apex of the structure conceived by the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has been undermined. The keystone of the arch is now loose.

Khamenei, far from an arbiter with a Prophet-like authority, has looked more like a ruthless infighter. His word has been defied. At night, from rooftops, I’ve even heard people call for his death. The unthinkable has occurred.

The second is that the hypocritical but effective contract that bound society has been broken.

The regime never had active support from more than 20 percent of the population. But acquiescence was secured by using only highly targeted repression (leaving the majority free to go about its business), and by giving people a vote for the president every four years.

That’s over. Repression will be broad and ferocious in the coming months. The acquiescent have already become the angry. You can’t turn Iran into Burma: The resistance of a society this varied and savvy will be fierce.

The third is that a faction loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, fiercely nationalistic and mystically religious, has made a power grab so bold that fissures in the establishment have become canyons.

Members of this faction include Hassan Taeb, the leader of the Basiji militia; Saeed Jalili, the head of the National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator; and Mojtaba Khamenei, the reclusive but influential son of the supreme leader.

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