"Since the mass unrest that followed the June 2009 presidential election, the Iranian authorities have succeeded in suppressing street protests and decapitating the opposition movement.
"The two leaders who stood against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the election, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, are in detention, as are dozens of their supporters.
"The conservative factions that run Iran should be feeling confident they can win the parliamentary election later this year virtually unopposed.
"That hope may be premature. At the end of March, a 70-year-old cleric who had hitherto kept out of the headlines came out of the shadows.
"News websites run by conservative groups – often the first sources of such information – reported that Ayatollah Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha was making plans to ease the way for a number of candidates, presumably with opposition leanings, to get through the vetting process that might otherwise exclude them and stand for election."
The link is to a full IWPR profile of Khoeiniha, a reformist who during the Islamic Revolution served as the clerical liaison between the U.S. embassy hostage takers and Ayatollah Khomeini. He had some mid-level prominence in the 1980's, but was later edged out of government and became an important of apparently quiet player in the reform movement.
It speaks well of the climate for reform in Iran that even with its A-team of leaders out of the picture, it can find a such a respectable B-team.
(Crossposted to American Footprints)