The religious conservatives that hold veto power over democracy and reform are on the defensive. Most of the population supports an American invasion of Iraq, believing that a democratic Iraq would be run by the majority (60 percent) Shia Arabs. Iran is currently the only nation with a majority of Shia Moslems (about 88 percent) that is run by Shias. In all other cases (mostly Iraq and other Gulf Arab states), the Sunnis run the show. A Shia run Iraq would open up the holiest Shia shrines and mosques to easier access by foreign pilgrims. Iran would also fear attack from Iraq less if Iraqi Shias. A democratic Iraq would also give Iranian moderates another weapon against Iranian religious conservatives.
Iranian conservatives are releasing more moderates from prison and easing up on press censorship. This is apparently a result of the growing violence by moderates and young people just fed up with the puritanical attacks by religious conservatives.