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Moussavi's Challenges Ahead

Andrew Apostolou is a Senior Program Manager at Freedom House.

For three days there has been a relative lull in large-scale unrest in Iran. But, why? Here are four reasons the opposition movement seems hamstrung at the moment:

**There appears to be some protest fatigue. Moussavi's call for a strike today had little effect. People are shouting at night and turning on their car headlights as requested, but that is not enough. Moussavi has apparently called a demonstration for tomorrow afternoon outside the old parliament building (which evokes memories of Iran's Constitutional Revolution in 1906), and it'll be instructive to see how that goes. Interestingly, the Guardian Council's decision to procrastinate may have done the protest movement a favor. The perception that the regime is wavering may encourage some of Moussavi's people to return to the streets.

**His organizers are being systematically arrested. His campaign infrastructure, which turned out the vote and then the demonstrators, is being rolled up. Moussavi himself is under a regime of restricted movement.

**His appeal for non-violence is tactically sound, but hard to enforce, particularly now that he has fewer organizers who can impose discipline on the streets. By responding to security force violence with rocks, the hardcore protestors could alienate the middle class, which includes the more pious elements that Moussavi needs in order to command a mass movement. (Nobody yet knows who is behind all the protests.)

**Moussavi's communications network--so indispensable last week--is under attack. It was unclear whether Moussavi actually called the large demonstration on Saturday that the regime forcibly broke up. His official website is being attacked. And as distrust grows, his movement might wither.