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Cannot win
Constitution leaves no room for maneuver

December 25, 2001
The Iranian

Catch 22 is defined by the New Oxford English Dictionary as: a condition or consequence that precludes success, a dilemma where the victim cannot win. The much touted Saturday speech by President, Khatami, true to form, was yet another exercise in craftily composed sound bites. The problem is, when one cross-checks the stated declarations, it amounts to a catch 22.

A cursory reading of the text of the speech should make this crystal clear, even to those stragglers who are steadfastly holding on to a pipe dream. The dream of reformability of a system based on a constitution that prohibits such. Even the much talked about national referendum (in the context of this regime) is only possible when the omnipotent Leader allows one (below, Article 110/3)

To be fair, one should make a distinction between the well-intentioned starry-eyed, being that I used to be one, and the cadre of financially induced groups and individuals. The latter see in the "reformist" President the best chance for the repeal of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) and the enactment of lucrative contracts to the detriment of the Iranian national interest.

U.S.-based oil giants make a convincing argument against the restrictions which ILSA has imposed on them. If others can partake in "buy back" deals which guarantee both the capital and a handsome return on the investment, why not us? Ergo, the myriad of seminars, lectures and award ceremonies packed with well-compensated former U.S. government officials. But that is another sad story, yet beyond the scope of this writing.

Back to President Khatami who proudly declared: "All the while, in the position of the President of the Republic, a President who works in this regime, and believes in it, I must move [maneuver] within the frameworks of the Constitution and the frameworks of the policies of the political system."

The President knows or should know that Article 110 of the Constitution which he believes in makes all his promises a nonstarter. He was elected to change the system, not abide it. After five years of vacillation, he has lost the power and momentum derived from the 22 million voters who were willing to do as asked.

Article 110 enumerates the absolute power of the un-elected Maximum Leader as follows:

1. Delineation of the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran after consultation with the Nation's Exigency Council.

2.Supervision over the proper execution of the general policies of the system.

3. Issuing decrees for national referenda.

4. Assuming supreme command of the armed forces.

5. Declaration of war and peace, and the mobilization of the armed forces.

6. Appointment, dismissal, and acceptance of resignation of:

-- fuqaha' on the Guardian Council.

-- supreme judicial authority of the country.

-- head of the radio and television network of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

-- chief of the joint staff.

-- chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

-- supreme commanders of the armed forces.

7. Resolving differences between the three wings of the armed forces and regulation of their relations.

8. Resolving the problems, which cannot be solved by conventional methods, through the Nation's Exigency Council.

9. Signing the decree formalizing the election of the President of the Republic by the people. The suitability of candidates for the Presidency of the Republic, with respect to the qualifications specified in the Constitution, must be confirmed before elections take place by the Guardian Council, and, in the case of the first term [of the Presidency], by the

10. Dismissal of the President of the Republic, with due regard for the interests of the country, after the Supreme Court holds him guilty of the violation of his constitutional duties, or after a vote of the Islamic Consultative Assembly testifying to his incompetence on the basis of Article 89 of the Constitution.

11. Pardoning or reducing the sentences of convicts, within the framework of Islamic criteria, on a recommendation [to that effect] from the Head of judicial power. The Leader may delegate part of his duties and powers to another person."

Catch 22: a condition or consequence that precludes success, a dilemma where the victim cannot win.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment to the writer Shahriar Zangeneh

By Shahriar Zangeneh

Zangeneh's features index


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