Constitution leaves no room for maneuver
December 25, 2001
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
-- 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.