PART 2 PART 1
Khatami came with the message of normalizing relationship with the west. This was a superset in which comprised of some subsets such as freedom and open market.
To understand understand the socio-dynamics of Khatami’s movement one should look into how Iranians viewed freedom at that specific period of time. In the eyes of an Iranian teenager, freedom was how freely and loudly they could listen to their favorite songs. For the young adult Iranian males it was how often they can get laid without any serious consequences. For the young female Iranians, freedom translated to Hejab free clothing. For the professionals, the word freedom brought the fresh scent of free transactions in the free market, stability, and consistency. For the artists and journalist freedom was the free expression, controversy, and boldness.
Please bear with me. As you see, Khatami said one thing but it instantaneously translated into many different words in different languages. Therefore the stakes were already high before he even got to his office. However this is not what defamed him.
I was out of the country at the time but since I felt he was the man whom we brought to power, I closely watched his steps. I remembered that his arrival to the presidential palace resembled the opening of the flood gate. There were many people with special interests followed him to the office or run under his name for the parliament election. It was after a chaotic beginning in which seemed no logical agenda was going to make it though or all the campaign mottos were slowly forgotten that bunch of clowns with the leadership of his brother, Reza Khatami took over his movement and named it Eslahat, reform movement.
People, who couldn’t recognize the difference between modernity and tradition, now are being bombarded everyday with new philosophical names and impossible-to-pronounce adjectives. Bunch of idealistic freaks with academic background took over the movement and so its ownership. The movement that was started with the people, form the people, for the people, to bring people “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” now has been changed to pave the road for these freaks to take over the power, not some of it but the whole power.
In the parliament most of the members’ time rather than solving people’s every-day problems, was wasted on reforming the major laws concerning parliament and presidential election or the laws that obviously would encounter conservatives’ harshest resistance. They went on and on fighting Guardian Council for years for silly reasons. Form all the accomplishment of the Eslahat with the exception of Khatami and his cabinet’s, the result was a “Forgotten People”.
On contrary, Khatami delivered more than anybody else on the macro-economical front. He enjoyed the expertise of his cabinet members whom were mainly chosen based on their proficiency not political affiliations. He delivered on his foreign policy thyme but not on the freedom part. His failure to fulfill people’s expectations on freedom was caused by the fact that most of Iranians at the time were young Iranians and their impression of freedom was way off the chart that conservatives could ever find a common ground on, and most importantly the clowns in the parliament were too busy chasing the conservatives than smoothing the way for Khatami in the war against the outdated bureaucracy left from the previous administrations including Shah’s. As we all know the results of the macro-economical policies are usually delivered long after the president is out of office. So what people remember of him is not his spectacular economical achievement as a direct result of his foreign policy but his failure to bring the young Iranians freedom.
Although, Khatami delivered well on executing the laws but his evil twin in the parliament cost him his defacement. One thing that people weren’t aware of was that Khatami couldn’t convey everything single-handedly by himself. He needed the parliament to back him up on correcting small and minor laws that could bring some quick results through reforming trade laws, the tax laws, small but incremental women’s right, stopping the Reza Khatami, Navabi, Abdi, and Mirdamadi’s gang for harassing conservatives, and focusing on how to work with the conservatives rather than trying to uproot them. In the simple word his campaign on freedom lost focus and people were watching it when that happened.
The last nail on Khatami’s normalization-with-the-west coffin came from where he expected the least, the west itself. He was hoping with his honest and mostly naïve attitude towards the west he could push his freedom agenda faster and farther. So the Sept 11 event, gave him an opportunity to show his honest and solid commitment for normalizing the relationship with the west. So he put his hand up to his arm into the jar of honey and shoved it into the west’s throat and we all know how things went from there.
I brought you my observation of how things bloomed and then were gone with the wind. I honestly think that Khatami had his chances and took some of it and lost some. However Iranian nation has moved on. Let’s remember that Iran has a vibrant nation. People are smart, observant, and have a long term memory. Their news doesn’t come from CNN or Fox News. They meet, they eat and they talk about politics. Sometimes we, the diasporasic, expatric, disconnected, can’t-wait-to-get-backic Iranians abroad don’t understand their decision, but that doesn’t mean things in Iran coming out of the blue without taking its course of actions. Sometimes the course of actions is so fast that we think they just came out of the blue.
PART 1: The rise of Khatami