Sunday, December 16, 2007

Coalition Of Iranian Reformists Aims To Oust Hardliners

By Cernig

Iran may be the enemy de jour, but no-one who wants to bomb Aman-nutjob's "tyrannical regime" seems to be actually interested in its internal politics - which surely is dumb, given the way similiar myopia over Iraq created such a debacle. For those who don't think Iran is Teh Enemy, we should be paying attention because Iran's internal politics offer hope of defusing the "bomb,bomb,bomb Iran" narrative.

A case in point:
Iranian reformists Friday announced a coalition inspired by ex-president Mohammad Khatami to win back parliament and save Iran from the "crisis" they said was created by his successor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The coalition brings together 21 moderate parties, including the allies of ex-presidents Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Ranfsanjani, to fight conservatives in the legislative elections on March 14, officials said.

"The country is in serious crisis. All parties agree that they should restore the parliament's position and curb the government's inexpert activities," spokesman Abdollah Naseri said.

Officials said the guiding light of the coalition was Khatami, president from 1997-2005, who in recent weeks has broken two years of virtual political silence to lambast Ahmadinejad in a series of speeches.

"Khatami was behind this coalition. He is one of the pillars of consolidating reformists for the next election," another spokesman, Morteza Haji, told the news conference.
The new coalition is formed from the largest group of reformists in Iranian politics, along with other groups allied to Khatami and, crucially, Hashemi Rafsanjani. In September, the latter was was appointed as head of the Assembly of Experts, the group that chooses or dismisses the Islamic Republic's ultimate authority, its supreme leader.

Their aim is to make sure that the Guardian Council allows reformist candidates aplenty into the next elections.
"The Guardians Council cannot tighten the space in a way that a real competitive election does not take place," Haji said, referring to the powerful clerical body which vets all candidates running for public office.

He added that "Karroubi, Khatami and Rafsanjani are lobbying with high ranks of the Islamic republic to guarantee the health of the election and remind the council it is not to make decisions on behalf of people."

The reformist camp is banking on a high turnout, hoping that frustration with the government's economic policies will carry them to the March polls -- seen as crucial for the future political direction of the Islamic republic.

"The government has intensified most internal and international crises in the past two years because there is not a strong and watchful parliament," Naseri said.

"The back-breaking inflation is felt by people and will be a serious reason to vote," he said.
The next elections are to be held in late Summer 2009. By every account, Iran could not have a nuclear weapon by then even if it did have a weapons program - which it doesn't. By late 2009 it's looking increasingly likely that Iran will have a more moderate president, parliament and perhaps even supreme leader - all of whome are going to be more amenable to reasoable negotiation over Iran's nuclear aspirations.

But ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran plays in the favor of hardliners there. It's almost as if the neocons and anti-Iran hawks want to keep their enemy live and dangerous, isn't it?

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