Last Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hoseyni Khamenei planted his imprimatur on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's second four-year term as President of Iran. The inauguration seals the results of last month's disputed election, in which Interior Ministry vote counters credited some 63 percent of the 40 million votes cast for the hard line leader, even as reform candidates cried foul, igniting bitter protests throughout the country.
While those working to avert the solidification of Ahmadinejad's position atop the Republic-half of the Islamic Republic have lost a battle, this setback has hardly stolen the wind from their sails.
Although primary opposition candidate and unintentional political lightning rod Mir-Hossein Mousavi has slowly ramped up his open involvement in post-election rallying, others now carry the torch of resistance. Chief among them is Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a leading religious and political figure, considered by many to be the second most powerful man in the country behind only the Supreme Leader himself.
Rafsanjani delivered a recent sermon at the weekly Friday prayer ceremony at Tehran University, using the pulpit to demand that "the government release those arrested in recent weeks, ease restrictions on the media and eradicate the "doubt" the Iranian people have about the election result," according to a New York Times summary of the event.
Having allies, and now leaders, so far up the political ladder (Rafsanjani is also a former president) can only aid the opposition in its continuing struggle, especially as Ahmadinejad fills his cabinet with allies, further galvanizing his own power.
In reaction to the inauguration, thousands marched through the streets of Tehran in protest, and a number of important figures, Rafsanjani, Mousavi, and former President Mohammad Khatami, were noticeably absent from the event.