What are Tehran’s goals? On what issues might it compromise?
Photo Credit: Khamenei.ir via Facebook
How important is Iran in John Kerry’s first year as secretary of state—and why?
His position reflected the recent call by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left) for “an economy of resistance” that preaches defiance of sanctions imposed by the outside world. In January, Khamenei endorsed a plan from the Expediency Council for self-sufficiency in defense, security, industry and agriculture.
Polls indicate that most Iranians believe the Islamic Republic has a right to enrich uranium for its nuclear energy program. But many Iranians also want to end the standoff with the international community that has devastated the economy and isolated Iran.
In different ways, former President Mohammad Khatami, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have separately appealed for free elections. In January, with the election season about to begin, Khamenei countered by warning that such talk only provides comfort to the “enemy” and weakens public faith in the electoral process. Iran’s elections, he claimed, are the freest in the world.
Friday prayer leaders in Tehran and other major cities in the country soon echoed his denunciation of free elections. Over 100 members of the Majles voted for a resolution on the same lines.
Although small, these moves are reminders that a wider debate is still taking place even as the regime tries to tighten its hold over political life and control the upcoming elections.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons and www.sajed.ir
As yet, the reformists have a fundamental problem—no viable candidate. Khatami will not run again, even though he technically could. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi (left)—a former prime minister and former speaker of parliament—remain under house arrest for their leadership of the opposition Green Movement after the disputed 2009 election. Mohammad Reza Aref, Khatami’s former vice-president, has reportedly considered running. But the obstacles are formidable for reformists.
Read Part II - Pivotal Election: The Ahmadinejad Camp
Over the past year, political speculation has centered primarily on Esfandiar Mashaie (left), Ahmadinejad’s principal aide, ideas-man and political adviser. He is widely considered to have formidable political skills; he is often credited with Rasputin-like influence over the president. The two men are also in-laws through the marriage of their children.
Conservatives have countered with a campaign to discredit the Ahmadinejad team as the “deviant current,” trying to push the president and his lieutenants outside the political and religious mainstream. Mashaie is a particular target of the conservatives’ ire.
Photo Credit: Russia's Presidential Press and Information Office (www.kremlin.ru)
The Islamists Are Coming
The Islamists Are Coming, edited by Robin Wright, surveys the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring. Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties. They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.
05/19/2013 - 23:54
05/15/2013 - 11:12
05/13/2013 - 14:10
05/13/2013 - 12:00
05/13/2013 - 11:19