I wonder what part of “Death To Khamenei!” Daniel doesn’t understand?
The slogan is very straightforward, and I don’t doubt that there are many people in the Green movement (and perhaps some not directly involved in it) who loathe Khamenei that much. It is harder to argue that the Green movement is unified around the goal of regime change that the slogan implies, which is what distinguishes its demands from the demands of the protesters in Egypt. More radical elements within any political movement are going to take maximalist positions, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of the movement will go along with them. If some Iranian protesters are calling for Khamenei’s head, they are probably not speaking for most of the Green movement, much less the rest of Iran.
Omid Memarian’s article on the new Iranian protests included an important distinction between the protesters in Cairo and the Green movement’s most recent activities:
Aside from the imprisonment of its leaders and the isolation from the world, the green movement suffers from a lack of direction, said Sadjadpour. The Egyptians had a very clear demand: They wanted Mubarak out. In Iran, there is still some confusion about whether there should be another revolution—something many can’t stomach just three decades after the last one, which overthrew the shah—or reform within the existing Islamic Republic.
“I don’t think a critical mass of people is going to take to the streets and risk their lives for ambiguous ends,” said [Karim] Sadjadpour.
It’s this relatively greater ambiguity of what the Green movement seeks that makes direct comparisons with the uprisings we have seen elsewhere less convincing. There certainly seems to be a desire on the part of some of the Green movement leaders to express solidarity with those uprisings and to contradict the regime’s spin on these events, but the goals of their movement do not appear to be quite the same. It was Hooman Majd who made a persuasive case that the Green movement should best be understood as a civil rights movement rather than a revolutionary movement, and at the end of January he wrote a column explaining why the Green movement is different:
As with the Lebanese protests, the green movement’s large number of demonstrators gave the impression that the entire country was unified behind one goal. But again, much like the Cedar Revolution, that turned out to be an illusion.
Many of the green movement’s demands still resonate with Iranians — some even, evidently, with Ahmadinejad and his government. But major change in Iran is unlikely to come about through street protests — which is why no one calls for them anymore. Not while the whole country, unlike in the Arab states, isn’t united in hatred of its leaders.