Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Moderate in Iran?

The election of Imam Hassan Ruhani as President-elect of Iran has provided analysts with a great deal of material on which to speculate.  Is he really a moderate?  Will he change Iran's policies regarding Syria?  Will he halt Iran's nuclear weapons program? 
What one must remember in asking all these questions is that fundamentally nothing really has changed.  Ruhani who also happens to be a cleric, was one of the six conservative candidates who was allowed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei to stand for election.  He happens to be the most moderate of the six candidates and that is good news and he won by a landslide, with over 50% of the vote, while the next candidate, the Mayor of Tehran, scored only 17%.  But, the kind of issues being raised, Syria and the nuclear weapons program, are beyond the control of the President and the Parliament.  These issues are decided by the Supreme Leader and his ruling council directly, and although he congratulated Ruhani on his election, he will not defer to him in matters of basic policy. 
This election was to democracy what elections in Hitler's Germany and Communist Russia were to democracy.  They are a facade, a little bit of democracy to the extent that the dictator allows them to be. In fact the election of Ruhani to some extent plays into the hands of the clerical autocracy of Iran.  The last general election in Iran was rigged in favor of Pres. Ahmedinejad, and everybody knew it.  Because of the riots and extreme violence used to put them down, this time the Ayatollahs chose apparently not to intervene and allowed the majority candidate to win. But, they control the army and the revolutonary guard and can call the shots, so they are not afraid of the consequences.  Even more than that, the people this time demonstrated their support for Ruhani's win without interference by the Government, so everything looks peaceful.  
The main issue facing Ruhani is the economy of Iran, which is in free-fall due to poor management and the sanctions. The sanctions are biting and affecting the whole of Iran's society.  The Ayatollahs are happy to unload this problem onto Ruhani and continue with their international games.  The new President will be concerned with domestic issues, but on all matters he is a loyal member of the regime's elite and he will follow their line to the end.  As PM Netanyahu said, to believe otherwise is to be deluded by wishful thinking.


Post a Comment

<< Home