Monday, December 11, 2006

Ides of December and Iranian elections

Dec. 15th is an important day in Iranian politics. A very important piece from Amir Taheri on upcoming elections there and why the current President of Iran (Mahmoud A.) is likely to lose.

The election is for an 8 year term for the Assembly of Experts. The Assembly of Experts is made up of 86 theologians who decide on the person of the Supreme Leader (currently Ayatollah Khamenei).

Iran is an Islamic Republic. So it has interesting and very vociferous debate within prescribed boundaries. The country has elements of both Islamic (Shia Khomenism Islamic btw) and Republican rule. And Republic includes both constiutional measures and democratic ones, like the US Republic. It generally breaks down into those who favor: 1.revolutionary Shia ideology 2.conservative business interests/military 3.reformist tendencies.

The current president is from camp 1, his predecessor Pres. Khatami from #3, and before him #2 (Rafsanjani).

President Ahmadinejad is currently brewing up a firestorm of controversy for inviting a series of Holocaust-deniers to come and debate whether that horrific genocide took place. That will play right into the hands of elements within the US/Israel who see the Iranians as wanting to annihilate Israel, once they get their nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad is going to lose the election. He had wanted to gain control of the Assembly so as to put pressure on the Supreme Leader Khamenei. It is well known that Khamenei wanted the conservative (not radical populist) Rafsanjani to be elected president. Khamenei has engineered the electoral slate for the Assembly so as to disallow a radical-Ahmadinejad takeover.

Of course this will get no play in the press and blogosphere because Holocaust-denying is much sexier, particularly when you have to imagine the man has all the power in the world. Why the US continues to empower Ahmadinejad I guess is only explainable in terms of wanting a boogeyman, picking a fight, needing a scapegoat, and wanting to still topple Iran.

When Khatami, the liberal Reformer was in power, the same right-wing line from the US was the Iranian president was powerless and the whole country was controlled by the Supreme Leader. Now the president is a radical and immediately he has power beyond measure to wipe Israel off the map.

Which is it boys? [FYI: Taheri is you google him is not some leftist leaning postmodernist. He is read widely in neocon circles].


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