"The Green Movement Wants or Needs Foreign Support."
Dead wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is insulting and patronizing to suggest, as many commentators do, that without foreign help or support the green movement cannot be successful, that Iranians on their own are incapable of commanding their own destiny.
U.S. President Barack Obama has so far expressed only moral support for Iranians fighting for their civil rights and has rightly articulated the unrest in Iran as a purely Iranian affair. Lacking relations with Iran, Obama can do little to help the green movement, but plenty to hurt it. Coming out squarely on the side of the opposition in Iran is likely to undermine its credibility, and perhaps even lend credence to the government's assertion that the movement is a foreign-inspired plot that will rob Iran of its independence.
That the green movement has survived, and even grown, in the absence of foreign support (even moral support in its inception) is evidence that Iranians are perfectly capable of maintaining a civil rights movement and agitating for democratic change without the prodding, influence, or support of foreigners. Furthermore, if there is only one aspect of the Islamic Revolution that almost all Iranians can agree on as positive, it's that key events, such as the spontaneous unrest after the election and all the way back to the revolution itself, have happened independent of foreign influence.
The most potentially damaging accusation the government has made against the green movement is that it is a foreign plot to foment a "velvet" or "color" revolution that will once again render Iran subservient to a greater power. But this accusation has not stuck because the movement's leaders have always eschewed any foreign support and framed their fight as a purely Iranian one.
The idea that foreign support is either necessary or important to the green movement's ability to achieve its goals is as preposterous as imagining, say in 1965, that overt Soviet support of the civil rights movement in the United States was necessary for that movement to be successful.
For observers sitting in the United States or anywhere outside Iran, it is tempting to draw conclusions about the green movement or even the health of the Islamic regime based on what little information we are able to gather and what various analysts believe, given the extreme restrictions Iran has placed on journalists and reporting from Iran. However, Iran often defies expectations and has proven maddeningly immune from adhering to conventional wisdom. Listen to an Iranian exile opposed to the Islamic regime for five minutes and you'll be convinced that the regime's days are numbered not in years, but in months. Listen to a regime apologist for five minutes and you might be persuaded that Western powers are indeed fomenting the revolt and that the government will weather the storm and emerge as powerful as ever.
The truth, of course, always lies somewhere in between. The green movement is most definitely real, cannot be completely suppressed, and will undoubtedly have a long-term effect on the politics of the Islamic Republic. What began with the election of reformist President Mohammad Khatami in 1997 has finally culminated in a civil rights movement that by any name will continue to put pressure on the regime to reform, pressure that it can only ignore at the peril of its own demise.