Friday, May 31, 2013

Iran Remains On The Wrong Side Of Political Reform

The Iran File

The recent exclusion of two more-moderate voices in the upcoming June elections in Iran is a blow to reform and to the ending of sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. The hard-liners will have their way in this election, for now, but at a great cost to the people, who must suffer the blows of an isolationist policy that is eventually bound to fail.

An article, by Thomas Erdbrink, in The New York Times, says as much:
At his first presidential campaign rally, Saeed Jalili on Friday welcomed the cheers of thousands of young men as he hauled himself onto the stage. His movements were hampered by a prosthetic leg, a badge of honor from his days as a young Revolutionary Guards member in Iran’s great trench war with Iraq. “Welcome, living martyr, Jalili,” the audience shouted in unison, most of them too young to have witnessed the bloody conflict themselves but deeply immersed in the national veneration of its veterans. Waving flags belonging to “the resistance” — the military cooperation among Iran, Syria, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and some Palestinian groups — the crowd roared the candidate’s election slogan: “No compromise. No submission. Only Jalili.”
Mr. Jalili, known as Iran’s unyielding nuclear negotiator and a protégé of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is emerging as the presumed front-runner in Iran’s presidential election on June 14, an unsettling prospect for future relations with the West. Mr. Jalili, 47, who many analysts say has long been groomed for a top position in Iran, is by far the most outspoken hard-liner among the eight candidates approved to participate in the election.
Opposing “détente a hundred percent” and promising no compromise “whatsoever” with the West over matters like Iran’s nuclear program and involvement in Syria, Mr. Jalili seems set to further escalate Iran’s standoff with the United States and its allies if elected president.
“He seems to be Ahmadinejad Phase 2,” said Rasool Nafisi, an Iran expert based in Virginia, referring to Iran’s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “He would probably not be a partner to negotiate for the nuclear issues, as we have seen before when he was heading the delegations.”
An analyst based in Iran, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, said Mr. Jalili was “the perfect follower of Khamenei.” “If he gets elected I foresee even more isolation and conflict, as he doesn’t care about foreign relations, the economy or anything,” the analyst said.
But many other Iranians do, seeing disaster in the possible and likely election of  Saeed Jalili, the choice of Iran’s supreme leader. A continuation of anti-western, anti-Israel, anti-negotiation policies will only worsen Iran’s position in the world, despite what its clerical leaders say.

It’s a consolidation of power by political Islam, a final gasp and grasp, and in many ways the elections are a piece of political theatre, similar in many respects to the former Soviet Union, where its citizens voted in elections for the one candidate on the ballot.

You can read the rest of the article at [NYT]

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