Tehran's streets went quiet this week as Iranian authorities showed little restraint in quelling any remaining unrest. Even so, they have not succeeded in silencing the opposition. After the Guardian Council officially confirmed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election as president on Monday, opposition leaders later denounced the government. "A majority of society, of which I personally am a member, do not accept the legitimacy of this government," said the defeated presidential candidate and opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in a statement on his website. He called on Iranians to continue their protests "in a creative way". The Washington Post reported: "Another opposition presidential candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, said on his newspaper's website Wednesday that he also considers Ahmadinejad's new government illegitimate. Ahmadinejad is scheduled to be sworn in before parliament for a second four-year term between July 26 and Aug 19. "Karroubi dismissed what he described as an official show of accepting complaints of irregularities and conducting a partial recount, saying that these and other events indicated that the election should have been annulled. " 'Based on this, I consider the government emerging from this election as devoid of legitimacy,' he said. "A leading moderate party formed by reformers close to former president Mohammad Khatami, the Iran Participation Front Party, denounced the election as a 'coup d'etat' and called the result 'unacceptable'. "Reacting to the official certification Monday of a landslide victory for Ahmadinejad, the party said in a statement: 'The instigators of the coup against the republicanism of the system have targeted the presidency, an office which if not chosen by the people's real vote, would mean the beginning of despotism so great that all that we have seen in the past would pale in comparison.' " The Middle East affairs analyst, Gary Sick, shares the view that a coup d'etat has taken place and sees the Revolutionary Guard as having played a central role in the power grab. "Over the 20 years that Ayatollah Khamenei has been the rahbar, or leader, he has allied himself ever more closely with the Revolutionary Guards - to such an extent that it is no longer apparent to me who is leading and who is following. The Revolutionary Guards have been granted extraordinary influence over all functions of the Islamic republic - military, political, economic, and even Islamic. Technically, they take their orders from the leader, but has he ever dared to contradict them? On the contrary, he seems always to court them by granting them ever-greater influence and responsibilities. "Their military role was established in the course of the Iran-Iraq War when the Revolutionary Guards - originally a ragtag collection of earnest but untrained volunteers - gradually shouldered aside the professional military. Unlike the professional military, which had always abjured a political role in Iran, the Revolutionary Guards were recognised from the start as the protectors of the Islamic republic. They have gone on to acquire an active and pervasive presence at all levels of the political structure, particularly under President Ahmadinejad, who has appointed his fellow guardsmen to positions throughout the bureaucracy. "The economic role of the Revolutionary Guards has been much remarked on in recent years. The Guards themselves and companies run by the Guards have won major contracts in every corner of the economy, from airport construction to telecommunications to auto manufacturing. They have also allied themselves with some of the most conservative clerics, who view the revolutionary government not as an alliance of Islam and the people but as divinely ordained rule by a philosopher king who is to be regarded as absolute in his judgments - political as well as theological. "These elements combine to form an impenetrable core that arrogates to itself all authority in the Islamic republic. Needless to say, it also provides tangible benefits to very specific groups: the leader himself, who is thus promoted to a position not simply as first among equals but as the equivalent of an absolute monarch; the top leadership of the Revolutionary Guards, whose profitable dominance of all aspects of the government's operations is guaranteed; and the conservative, politically minded clergy, who want a true theocracy with no meddling by those who are not properly anointed. The objective, quite simply, was to remove the 'republic' from the Islamic republic." In Asia Times, Pepe Escobar wrote: "If this military dictatorship of the mullahtariat continues to appease its working-class support base with a little redistribution of oil revenues, they can stay in power for a long time. "The West may try to boycott them - but not Russia and China, as both made it clear in no time. Both are the driving force of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), of which Iran is an observer and sooner, rather than later, will be a member. Iran's oil and gas are absolutely crucial to Europe - not to mention Asia. Nobody's going to embargo Iran's oil exports. So the military dictatorship of the mullahtariat will be able to repress and suppress whatever comes its way, using or not using Shiite eschatology to justify it. "There are echoes of the former Soviet Union in all of this. But what happened in the streets is more like Prague 1968 - and not the turbulence before the death of communism in 1989. In the end, the revolution was not YouTubed and Twittered simply because there was no revolution. The army - the IRGC - didn't support the people. And the bazaari merchants and the oil and gas industry workers didn't go on strike. "People were angry because they felt their vote had been stolen: there was nothing ideological about that. When they took to the streets they made clear that they wanted a better economy, less unemployment, a less stifling regime, a little more freedom of speech and of dress for women, less fiery rhetoric from Ahmadinejad, in sum, a better life. But on the other side of the spectrum there were the millions of pious Basiji - who are very happy with the meager and shabby existence the revolution grants them and who remain deeply, deeply alienated from Western culture. "This doesn't mean this was a Gucci, YouTube, Twitter uprising of the petit-bourgeoisie. It's easy to fall into this temptation as the people in the streets of Tehran were supported by the West en masse. But to believe that Iran's national interest and the aspirations of the excluded Iranian masses will be defended by this new military dictatorship of the mullahtariat is to completely miss the point." Elizabeth Shakman Hurd said: "The divisions in Iran's leadership we are witnessing today also are reminiscent of 1978-79. Power struggles emerged immediately during and after the Revolution, with one side advocating various forms of moderation and the other clerical absolutism. Two prominent antagonists were Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, representing hard-line clerical authority, and sociologist and activist Ali Shariati, representing, according to John Esposito, 'a more nonclerical, innovative, creative reformist approach.' The names have changed but the struggle continues, and this split in Iran's leadership has been propelled into the international spotlight in the aftermath of the disputed election of June 12th. Although the hard-liners prevailed in 1979, they cannot be assured of it today. "But today's protests are not a repeat of 1979. A significant difference between then and now involves the reasons behind the protests. The revolution of 1978-79 was the culmination of a gradual rejection of the Shah's domestic policies - including his authoritarian secularism - and foreign, and especially American, influence in Iran. Revolutionaries of different persuasions, who might be labeled secular, religious, or perhaps neither - our categories fail us here - all opposed the Shah's state-imposed secularisation and modernisation. "The Iranian revolution was not a religious backlash against secular modernity, as often portrayed. Nor was it an attempt to merely return to Islam. It was a challenge to an autocratic secularist regime widely perceived as connected to illegitimate and culturally distant outside economic and political interests. As historian Robert Allison has provocatively observed, 'the Iranian people did not rebel against their own failed rulers but against ours.' "