Ali and the Quartet
Asharq Alawsat / Amir Taheri
24-Jul-2009 (9 comments)

Now, however, Khamenei himself is regarded as a factional leader. Although the current protest movement was triggered by opposition to Ahmadinejad, the president has almost faded into the background. Until last month, Khamenei had tried to stay above the fray, and limited his public appearances to half a dozen a year. In the past six weeks, however, he has made almost a dozen appearances, including a rare sermon at the Friday prayers on the Tehran University campus. Jettisoning his role as arbiter, Khamenei has become a player in a deadly game that must end with winners and losers. Not surprisingly, it is Khamenei, both as a person and as holder of the position of "Supreme Guide", who is targeted by dissidents within the Khomeinist elite. Some of these dissidents have already fled to the West and thus feel free to attack Khamenei with no ifs and buts. Others like Rafsanjani and Khatami have not yet attacked Khamenei by name but have made it clear that they no longer regard his ruling as final on anything. Mir-Hussein Mousavi, the former prime minister and the defeated presidential candidate who claims he was robbed of victory, has tried to cultivate his own brand of ambiguity. Nevertheless, he, too, has rejected Khamenei's ruling, thus questioning his authority as "Supreme Guide". While the faction led by Khamenei has certainly been weakened, there is no sign that the coalition of dissident factions, led by the " muraba'a manhous" ( the curs... >>>

Majid Zahrai

Rafsanjani should make up his mind fast

by Majid Zahrai on

I don't think Mr. Taheri is being very realistic about what is feasible in Iran.  Coalitions will have to be made and this is not nearly as easy or as fast as he seems to think.



Dear Abarmard,

by Jaleho on

you're right, we have no choice but wait and see. What do you mean by if next year the reformists will be able to run? The presidential election I believe is completely done, finished, just dragged uselessly with wasted blood; and my belief is that the "green" movement will just fade like a foreign-short-lived propagnda. But, maybe this is what you mean which I also think will happen: I believe that the reformers are going to have a very strong representation, and Mousavi might start a party which would be a large combination of different factions (something like Jebhe melli did). Such party will be powerful and the government must yield to a lot of its demands. It will usher a lot of good progress. You might think of me as a dreamer given the present chaos, maybe, I am in general very optimistic :-)

But, this is something that I think Mousavi should have done to legally represent his constituent demands instead of wasting time and blood and killing the momentum by bickering and personal and family ego.


It's too confusing

by Abarmard on

Jaleho, I am not so sure I understand what direction the Islamic Republic is headed. I guess we just have to wait and see how things unfold.

Do you believe that in the coming up election next year any chance for Reformists to be accepted to run?


And Abarmard, BTW

by Jaleho on

I am sure you're following the stories about VP as well. I don't think shows like that will improve the "image" of Khamenei as still being "supreme" ;-)


Jaleho, how do you KNOW that...

by Ostaad on

Ahmadinejad "did in fact win"? Are you in possession of independently verifiable data that prove this is not a myth that Khamenie, Ahmadinejad and you are making up to fool yourselves?

I don't agree with your basic assumption at all. Please enlighten us without much roodeh deraazi. Can you do that?


Abarmard, assume for 5 minutes

by Jaleho on

that Ahmadinejad indeed won the 24 million vs. the (I agree still huge) 13 million, give or take some irregularities. Since that is the premise that I start my thesis on, this is needed in order to enter the argument without pre-judgement.

Now, I totally agree with you that both during the debates and after the firts rounds of protest, Ahmadinejad was crass, arrogant and even slanderous towards the opposition leaders, and even worse towards the millions who poured in the street. He should have known that his cheap mudslining might get him few points, but considering the concentration of opposition so massively in the important city of Tehran, he can actually endanger Tehran towards a civil war!

However, he did in fact win and it was up to the losing party to accept the defeat graciously and demand a kind of reprsentation of their huge constituents. Don't forget that the opponents have not still even accepted his win although they have still not filed legally for their objections! How could Ahmadinejad offer a colaition to an opposition leader who not only accepts the results, but whose representative goes to EU parliament and asks for more sanction on Iran and curbing of Iran's nuclear activities?! The LOSER LEADERS frist have to accept their loss, then demand item by item their constituent's wish.

Now where I think Taheri is right is the fact that the protest was really not about quartet or Ahmadinejad or Khamenei, or any personnel. It was a manifestation of the interanal contradictions of the system which has gradually evolved so much that some of the original foundation needs replacement. If you comapre it with Marxist theories, very roughly something like abolition of the initial dictatorship of proletariat.

I do believe that the spiritual leadership of Khomeini himself was needed in the first few years of revolution and during war, to make sure that the fundamental achievements of the revolution are not compromised. But, who needs Khamenei now? The manifestation of that fact and move towards change is given here by Taheri:

"Before the crisis triggered by Ahmadinejad's controversial re-election on 12 June, events presided over by Khamenei had always been occasions for demonstrating elite unity. The message was that although the ruling elite may be divided into rival factions, it remained solidly united around the "Supreme Guide".

Yet, he clarifies that although this gathering behind rahbar is fading, it doesn't mean that the opposition has gained at its expense at all, quite the contrary!

"While the faction led by Khamenei has certainly been weakened, there is no sign that the coalition of dissident factions, led by the " muraba'a manhous" ( the cursed quartet), that is to say Mousavi, Khatami, Rafsanjani and Mehdi Karrubi, has benefited."

Thus the healthy fracture that has been created among clerical elite, will lead this internal contradictions only to one direction: constitutional amendments to throw out the reactionary parts of the constitution that in the early revolution might have been needed.

I know at the present this doesn't seem to be the outcome of the situation, but progress will not be made with "reformist" winning over principalists. It would be the weakening of both clerical factions, and BTW, the split of control over the military power gradually, which allows more democratic participation of all opposition groups.

This phase is what I call the fading of "Islamic" from "Islamic Republic," not as commonly viewed these days as the fading of "republic" from Islamic republic. It is too early to be wanting concrete results. Ahmadinejad is still not officially set for his next term yet! And, we'll have few months to get Iran's relationship back on its strong footing with international community  that it was supposed to have after election. I believe that it will within few months, when international community accepts Ahmadinejad and everyone has forgotten the color green ;-)


Dear Jaleho

by Abarmard on

I am not sure what part of the article you see as realistic.

Firstly the issue is not as black or white as mentioned here. There is no mention about how easily this could have been fixed if the leadership chose to compromise and unify rather than insult and threaten the "35%" of Mousavi voters.

Mr. President had annoyed many people by his arrogant speeches and telling the "35%" of the "losers" to shut up, rather than inviting them to join him while he could promise to work with "reformist" camp to enhance the IR policies.

Finally, where does the writer gets the idea that Iran might be on the way to a progressive and "modern" system? Based on what we are witnessing, all the hard core religious fanatics that many Iranians hoped would gradually step aside are gaining more power and all the milder, more modern faces are being pushed away.

I would like to hear your opinion.


Taheri remains one of the SMARTEST analyst

by Jaleho on

on Iranian matters!

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear "Amir Taheri" is of course his dirty concoted lies a la neocons, his intentional omission of truth, and tweaking of facts to achieve his political agneda. I always want to see how  he spins new  events cleverly to further his own agenda.

All that said, he remains one of the most realistic and smart poltical analyst among all the Iran "experts" you hear on CNN....who are so far off from reality! Even some of  their best (like Hamid Dabashi) is so full of themselves and their own make-bileve realities that is nauseating. And they never stop "analyzing" no matter how often they're proven wrong!

With Taheri though, if the reader is vigilant to separate wheat from his intentionally thrown chaff, one often gets a more realistic view of Iranian events.

Take his concluding paragraph, you can see the evolution of "Islamic Republic" gaining a maturity so rapidly that it doesn't need the "Islamic" part much more while the orginal "Islamic leaders" are still alive! He sees clearly that the protestors had nothing agaisnt Khamenei or Ahmadinejad per se, they were attacking the institution of "veleyat faghih" which is not needed any more, the women were sick of their artificial dress codes, the youth wanted more basic freedom....they showed the era of Ammameh and the type of Karrubi or Khatami is over!

The evolution of the "Islamic Republic" has created internal contradictions, the resolution of which will propel the original revolution to its next great phase, something that Amir Taheri among Iranian "experts" can see clearly.

One point that is not empahsized at all in all theese analysis is the fact that the energy of the present protest is partly due to the specific time slice that Iran is now, having a majority under the age of 30. As opposed to many who believe this protest is just the start of whatever they are dreaming of automatically, the reality is that the present momentum will be lost by sheer aging of the population; time is against them! Hopefully, the deep internal contradictions of the realities of Iran now, can be resolved peacefully while this momentum lasts! The demand for a fundamental review ofconstitution must be set forwards, and precious time should not be wasted on the asinine delays of people like Mousavi or the IDIOT Makhmalbaaf who are diverting the healthy momentum for their own pathetic ego!

Maryam Hojjat

I agree With Mr. Taheri

by Maryam Hojjat on

He has analyzed situation very well.  Hopefully things happen to free IRAN.

Payandeh IRAN & Iranians

Down with IRI