Former anti-Western firebrand calls for Iranian rapprochement
TEHRAN, May 4 (AFP) - Former parliamentary speaker and longtime anti-Western
firebrand, Hojatoleslam Mehdi Karrubi, has called on the Iranian government
to adopt a policy of detente towards the United States, the Tehran press
"The best way of re-establishing ties with the United States is
through detente," Karrubi told a student meeting.
"The question of re-establishing relations is not new, but it has
come up more and more frequently since the death of Imam Khomeini (in June
1989)," the leading radical said.
"The imam thought that relations between Iran and the United States
were similar to those between a sheep and a wolf. But today, although the
United States may still be a wolf, Iran has turned into a lion," Karrubi
Mehdi Karrubi, 62, is secretary general of the Association of Combatant
Clerics (ACC), a left-wing politico-religious group, which was influential
during the heyday of radical policies under the late revolutionary leader.
His eviction as speaker of parliament in 1992 was interpreted as a sign
that the "pragmatic" faction of former president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani
was gaining the upper hand within Iran's Islamic regime.
Today, the two factions -- moderate and radical leftist -- have allied
to form a reformist coalition in support of President Mohammad Khatami
against conservatives and hardliners.
In recent months, several radical and ex-radical political personalities
have called for a rapprochment with the "Great Satan" angering
Ayatollah Ali Montazeri, disgraced former heir apparent to Khomeini,
recently called for a rapprochement with the United States if the move
proved to be "in Iran's interest."