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Political Unrest May Widen Rifts Among Iran’s Clerics

Iran's supreme leader defended the results of last week's disputed election Friday, and warned opposition supporters against further rallies. Analysts offer insight on the role of Iran's clerics in the dispute.

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    In Washington today, both the U.S. House and Senate voted to condemn Iran's crackdown on dissent. And President Obama told CBS News Iran's government should "recognize that the world is watching."

    Now Ray Suarez continues our lead story coverage.


    For more reaction to the supreme leader's speech, we turn to Karim Sadjadpour, an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He's studied and written about Iran's supreme leader.

    And Reza Aslan, an assistant professor at the University of California-Riverside, he's the author of "How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror."

    Professor Aslan, did Ali Khamenei's address today clear the air, end all speculation about where he and some of the top clerics stand?

  • REZA ASLAN, author:

    Yes, it did. I think we all expected that he was going to come out and speak somewhat forcefully for Ahmadinejad, but I don't think anyone expected him to really throw down the gauntlet the way that he did. He essentially has made a not-so-veiled threat: Either go home or you'll be shot.

    Now, the interesting thing about this, of course, is that neither Mousavi nor Karroubi, the two main opposition candidates, who had been summoned to the Friday prayers by Ayatollah Khamenei bothered to show up. And I think that right there is the answer to whether this is going to die down after this or whether it's just going to kick back up.


    Karim Sadjadpour?

    KARIM SADJADPOUR, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: I actually wasn't surprised, Ray. I've been studying Khamenei for a long time, and this has long been his modus operandi as Iran's leader. You never compromise under pressure. Never compromise when you're under siege, because that's going to project weakness and invite even more pressure.

    So I think that, you know, what's interesting is that Khamenei has the hindsight of having been a successful revolutionary himself 30 years ago. And one thing that the senior elite of the Islamic republic sometimes talk about is that, when 30 years ago the shah of Iran came on television and conceded past transgressions, conceded past sins, and said, "I have heard your revolution," he thought that was going to pacify the crowds and appease the crowds.

    But on the contrary, the revolutionaries smelled blood, and they pounced. So I wasn't surprised at all that Khamenei didn't cede any ground today.

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