Celebrated in June 2009 as a model of nonviolent protest against autocracy, the Iranian Green Movement has lost much of its strength and mobilizing capacity inside Iran while the Arab Spring has toppled regimes across the region.
In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is under arrest. But in Iran, the two defeated candidates in the disputed presidential elections of June 2009 who played such an important role in giving birth to the Green Movement – Mir Hossein Mousavi a former prime minister, and Mehdi Karroubi, a cleric and a former parliament speaker – are the ones under house arrest and denied any contact with the outside world. Unlike their predictions and those of many Iranian dissidents and protesters, the hardliners and especially the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps appeared in a far stronger position.
What happened? And where does Iran’s Green Movement stand two years later?
No doubt, the price of speaking truth to power was higher than expected for the Iranian civic actors. It resulted in massive arrests, Stalinist-style show trials, torture, rape, and murder. Also, the nature of Iran’s system, with its power split between two centers – the president and the supreme leader – has complicated and slowed down the process of change.