Iran’s election aftermath seems to have come as a surprise to its key figures. With protesters showing no sign of relenting, Tony Karon of Time offers four possible conclusions:
- A repeat of the 1979 revolution. But that’s unlikely, because “an unarmed popular movement can only topple an authoritarian regime if the security forces switch sides or stay neutral”—not the case here.
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s language may suggest violent retaliation, but a “Tehran Tiananmen” would “risk reducing a regime built on clerical authority and ‘managed’ democracy to a tyranny.”
- A runoff is a possibility, but because supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei is such a close Ahmadinejad ally, he “may be more likely to seek a compromise that keeps the incumbent in place.”
- Perhaps the most likely option is “a 'Zimbabwe' option,” or power-sharing deal: keeping Ahmadinejad at the helm and "bludgeoning the opposition into settling for an important, yet subordinate role in his government.”