OpinionIran in the World PressIran simmers, America moves on

Iran simmers, America moves on

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ImageWall Street Journal – REVIEW & OUTLOOK: That didn't take long. President Obama last week gave Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an autumn deadline to negotiate over Iran's nuclear program. "We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday. So much for waiting to see how Iran's post-election drama plays out.

The Wall Street Journal

Hillary says it's time to engage Mahmoud.

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

ImageThat didn't take long. President Obama last week gave Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an autumn deadline to negotiate over Iran's nuclear program. "We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. So much for waiting to see how Iran's post-election drama plays out.

Premature would be a generous description of this diplomatic outreach. Leave aside that this regime can't be trusted to negotiate anything. More immediately relevant is that millions of Iranians refuse to accept the "leaders" of the "Islamic Republic" (in Mrs. Clinton's words) that the Administration so eagerly aims to engage. Massive street protests roiled Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan and other cities in the wake of the transparently fraudulent June 12 poll. The Basij and Revolutionary Guard goon squads got the people off the streets, killing an unknown number, and the regime blocked nearly all foreign reporting out of Iran.

But not all national uprisings abide by the 24-hour cable news cycle. The shah didn't fall overnight, as waves of protest rose and ebbed. And the current struggle has now moved behind the scenes. An influential group of clerics refuses to recognize the new government, and only two senior mullahs have even congratulated Mr. Ahmadinejad. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the opposition candidate, won't concede defeat, in spite of the tremendous pressure to do so.

Many eyes and ears are on this Friday's prayers. Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a powerful Ahmadinejad rival, will deliver the sermon for the first time since the election. Will the cynical operator oppose the regime openly, or seek to end the internal feud? Splits in the establishment brought down South African apartheid and Eastern Europe's communists. In the meantime, thousands of demonstrators dared to come out into the streets of Tehran last Thursday chanting, "Death to the Dictator." Oil workers, bus drivers and the bazaar guilds are mulling a general strike.

Even with his control over so many levers of power, Mr. Ahmadinejad can't seem to get traction for a second term. The so-called Green Revolution hardly looks to be over. Which raises a quandary: Why is Washington rushing to confer U.S. and international prestige on a regime that doesn't enjoy legitimacy among its own people?

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