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Letter From Tehran: Iran's New Hard-Liners

Who Is in Control of the Islamic Republic?

Courtesy Reuters

The headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are in a European-style palace, replete with Greek columns and a grand staircase, in the eastern suburbs of Tehran. From here, the IRGC orchestrated the crackdown that followed Iran's disputed presidential vote in June, beating protestors on the street and torturing those behind bars. More ominously, the IGRC and other extreme hard-liners have sidelined fellow conservatives in the Iranian government, carving out their own power base in a regime that is becoming increasingly insular, reactionary, and violent.

So far, much of the analysis of the emerging Iranian power struggle has focused on the clash between the country's conservatives and reformers, pitting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his patron, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, against Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, two thwarted presidential candidates, and Mohammad Khatami, a former president. (Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and seasoned kingmaker has eased

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