Sources in Tehran say Iran's ruling hardliners faced with losing it all are beseeching once popular reformists they purged from power to help save the regime.
In a commentary entitled “Good But Not Enough”, the Revolutionary Guards’ Sobh-e Sadegh weekly has also adopted a surprisingly mild and somehow positive tone in discussing former reformist President Mohammad Khatami’s recent remarks about the protest movement.
The weekly is published by the political bureau of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and its content is meant to set the standard for the guards and the hardliner political establishment in current affairs.
“Khatami who has a special status among reformists can prepare the grounds for dialogue [between protesters and the government] through uniting all across the reformist spectrum and reinforcing the divide with the enemies of the Iranian people,” Sobh-e Sadegh wrote.
Khatami said in a speech last week that regime change was “neither possible, nor desirable” while also warning the hardliner establishment over continuing the status quo which he said would only deepen the prospects of “societal collapse”. He proposed reforms in the system as the “least costly and most useful” way out of the current quagmire the regime has gotten itself into.
“The first step is to not only acknowledging [people’s] right to protest, but also to welcome it,” he said while criticizing the authorities’ characterization of any protest action as “rioting” to justify harsh suppression.
Former president Rafsanjani leading a prayer with Khatami (C) and Khomeini's grandson (L) standing behind him
The weekly admitting that the former president is “still the most pre-eminent and popular figure among reformists” sounds like praise, while in recent past hardliners labeled him as “one of the leaders of the  sedition” and made it clear there was no room for him, and those like him, in the country’s power structure.
Informed sources in Iran told Iran International over two weeks ago that authorities had approached some reformist and moderate figures to beseech their help in quelling the unrest that has engulfed the country, but to no avail.
Strongly worded slogans against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and slogans such as, “This is not a protest, it’s a revolution!” and “This is the last message, our aim is [toppling] the system!” chanted by protesters leave no doubt that they will not be satisfied with anything other than regime change.
Accordingly, not even Khatami, whose popularity once surpassed any other Iranian official including the Supreme Leader by a mile, has significantly lost his clout among protesters who view him as ultimately a man of the system and irrelevant in the current circumstances.
The Wall Street Journal also said in an article Wednesday that the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani recently approached the families of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini, and the former moderate president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani in a bid to use their influence to calm the unrest. People close to the two families told the WSJ that both families declined to cooperate.
Shamkhani, a Khamenei loyalist, has kept a very low profile since protests began over two months ago. Ultra-hardliners of the Paydari Front blame Shamkhani for not crushing the protests in the bud and even accuse him of complicity with Khatami under whom he served as defense minister in between 1997 and 2005.
Khamenei’s hardliner devotees made sure long ago that members of both families were barred from any positions of power and even allowed vigilantes to freely attack and insult Khomeini’s grandson Hassan in public and jail two of Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s children, the outspoken daughter Faezeh and son Mehdi who is still serving a prison sentence on security-related and corruption charges.