August 29, 2000
Rafsanjani, no (fair) chance
I think you are mistaken in your assumptions about Ali Akbar Hashemi
in the shadows"]. I doubt, if by the time of the next presidential
elections in a years time, Rafsanjani can win a fair and free election
against Khatami, given the present images of the candidates in the public
The reason the press law was stopped dead in its track in the Majlis,
and all the other crackdown on the hitherto accepted opposition, is because
the establishment is worried about its own future, and has serious doubts
about the wisdom of recent experiments with liberalization.
I agree that Khatami has lost some of his popularity, because of his
inability to deliver all that he promised both politically and economically,
and also the fear in the more conservative elements of his support that
as result of his dabbling with dangerous liberal ideas he may inadvertently
bring about radical irreversible changes which ironically is the reason
for his support from the disgruntled silent majority.
Now, if he were to stand against somebody like Abdollah Nouri or Mohsen
Kadivar, that might be a different matter, and he might even lose. But
no such chance exists against the candidates of the conservative right
like Ali Akbar Velayati or Ahmad Janati or Rafsanjani.
I agree that in the next presidential election Rafsanjani may be "declared"
as the winner. The real question is whether the establishment will be
able to go back to the pre-Khatami status and still resolve their own internal
differences and be able to mobilize public support for themselves ?
This really begs the question as to the reason why Khatami was allowed
to stand and win the election in the first place and whether with the
Khatami presidential experience behind them Rafsanjani and Khamenii can
settle their differences and share power?
Whatever happens, one thing is certain in people's mind, and that is
the fact that electoral results mean very little in Iran.This feeling will
further encourage cynicism, frustration, and indifference and will be the
ingredients for the gale-force storm predicted by Anthony Friedman of The
New York Times and others.
M.ch , F.R.C.S