Political society vs. civil society in Iran

Robert Fisk's most recent assessment of Iran's conflict: "Symbols are not enough." They are insufficient because:

…it is indeed an intifada that has broken out in Iran, however hopeless its aims. Millions of Iranians simply no longer accept the rule of law because they believe that the law has been corrupted by a fraudulent election. The dangerous decision by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to throw his entire prestige behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has erased any chance that he could emerge above the battle as a neutral arbiter.
Juan Cole's also pointedly judges the situation:

By stealing the election for Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has effectively made a coup on behalf of the clerical sphere in alliance with lay hard liners, which threatens to virtually abolish the sphere of popular sovereignty. That is what Mousavi and Karroubi and their followers are objecting to so vehemently. From the outside, Iran was often depicted as a totalitarian state. But from the inside it seemed to have wriggle room. The reformers are saying that the regime has just moved toward really being a totalitarian state and is now removing any space for dissent.

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