Here's a very very helpful assessment of how recent history built to this moment of truth. read the whole thing. Essentially, the attempt to slowly rest the regime's authority on more transparent, rational and modern modes came into conflict with the religious, fundamentalist notion of authority dating from Khomeini. Khamenei saw that the organs of state that were being marginalized by reform were also the ones with the weapons. Hence his neoconservative putsch. Money quote:

Famous sociologist Max Weber, referencing the traditional Christian societies he studied, stated this process more clearly:

“Rationalization destroyed the authority of magical powers [religion], but it also brought into being the machine-like regulation of bureaucracy, which ultimately challenges all systems of belief” (Weber, 1991).

‘Belief’ which, to the neoconservative militant element, is the foundation of the rahbar’s power, and therefore the system of velayat-e faqih.

Now, with a war veteran in the second most powerful position in the Republic again, patronage re-institutionalized in ‘05 and continuing now with his reelection, and the Hezbollahi segment comfortable with Ahmadinejad’s activist continuation of the Islamic Revolution’s early ideals, Rafsanjani and his cohort realists are being pushed severely to the sidelines.

But what the regime didn’t expect was a reaction from the people.

What this movement, and the regimes obvious surprise, shows is that the neoconservative elite rulers aren’t just anti-liberal, but that they are completely out of touch with a majority of the society they run.

Of course these neofundamental elites don’t care so much. But what they didn’t anticipate was a reaction to their marginalization of old elites, like Mousavi, Khatami, Karroubi, and Rafsanjani. They certainly foresaw the power struggle that would develop behind the scenes, but they did not anticipate that civil society too would be an actor in this drama. And what an actor it has proven to be.

So the question remains: Can the power of the citizenry, over time, prevent these elites’ marginalization in order to halt a complete overhaul of the Republic (producing a compromise), or will the new hijacking of the Republic remain in the hands of the militants?

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