During the recent elections in Iran, the sigh of relief that Rouhani had technically won the lead role in an imaginary stage play, was amplified by the gains made by “Reformers” across Iran in the city, village, provinces and all the other elections Iran imagines are real.
Half-invested Iranians outside Iran, and their Non-Iranian Iran-Loving well-wishers, all exhaled a “Phew!” as the idea that Iranian politics, now flush with “Reformers”, would continue an accelerated, if imagined march towards pragmatism, and the ultimate result, a slow general de-escalation of Islamism in Iran. And after that, we can all move back home. California home prices permitting of course!
“Flush” is certainly a good word for this. But when it comes to the word “Reform”, as Inigo Montoya once said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Reformers or Hardliners. Iran’s sole socio-political make-up is a rigged oligarchic political system, which exists solely to financially reward pseudo-elected loyalists for their pseudo-loyalty, with juicy to not-so-juicy concessions and franchises, carefully sucked from the seriously sick marrow of the Iranian economy.
So “elected” members of Iran’s Majles, are basically there to line their pockets at the expense of Iran’s future. One could easily say (just by looking) that the Hardliners get the juiciest bits of Iranian dried fruit, while the Reformers have traditionally gotten the leftover nuts.
So Reformers, would definitely like to “Reform” the ongoing grave robbing of Iranian destiny, to their advantage.
So Reform isn’t what you think it is*. As much as it is the whiny mildly legitimate complaints about the relatively unfair status (quid pro) quo in Iran. But Reformers don’t want to soften anything except the Kung-Fu grip that the IRGC and Hardliners have on the juiciest veins of Iranian lifeblood. Not for reform’s sake, but because you can become very rich. Those gorgeous luxury homes of the Rich Kids of Tehran on Instagram? They belong to the Parents of the Rich Kids of Tehran. Who are connected to the collective pillaging of Iran. Some of the pillagers are Reformers.
Rouhani is now set. The solid tradition of Iran’s Presidency, is that during the first term, you become a millionaire. Play your cards right, and during your second term you become a Billionaire.
And yes, Ahmadinejad is a Billionaire too! Apparently he was so good at Presidenting, that at night, after work, he would stay up late, just to indulge his other hobby as Business Genius, and built himself a multi-billion Dollar (not Toman) financial empire. One that Donald Trump would call, “Wowser!”, and Sir Richard Branson would offer free naked windsurfing on his private island. But one that Warren Buffet would certainly frown upon. As should everyone.
So, Rouhani is now on track to do that too. How he will ever windsurf with all that Mollahwear…
But ironically, the “Trump” card, in all of this, is Iran’s Constitution. A document so bulletproof, so steel-trap-shut, that it can never be changed. No, like never, ever, ever, ever.
Iran’s current Constitution (here he goes again with the Constitution already!) which was edited in 1989 by Khamenei (after it was illegally** installed in 1979 by Khomeini), is a “Blessed Document”. So, like the Qoran, insulting it is of course a sin. And consequently and very conveniently now, a Felony too. Any suggestion that Iran’s Constitution is imperfect, or needs to be refined, reformed, bothered, or bewildered, carries many penalties. All of them highly uncomfortable. Physically.
Iran’s 1989 Constitution is so “perfect” in this regard, that it also has ultimate protections against any unauthorized modification, built right into it. By not having ANY amendment rules! So there is NO “…can be altered by a majority vote of the people’s representatives…”.
To recap. Iran’s Constitution is locked. Because it is perfect. Suggesting it may need to be amended in any way, is a Felony insult to the Constitution, the personal being of the Supreme Leader who wrote it, the [Holy] Islamic Revolution, the Qoran, [the Prophet] Mohammad, Islam, the Big Bang [in Theory], and finally Allah. A serious Felony.
So nothing, but nothing, will EVER change Iran’s rules of politics.
The only way Iran shifts towards a more moderate day to day life, is as it has been doing now. The Supreme Leader, the Government, the IRGC and their fair-weather buddies the Hardliners, and most importantly, the People of Iran, have simply started looking the other way, and slowly and politely have just decided to ignore the seriously ridiculous rules written down by Khamenei during a time of Personal Panic of Piety, during the Iran-Iraq war. They do this until someone realizes the collective coma, reminds everyone, “Hey! We’re supposed to be Moslems!”, and everyone pulls the Hejab tighter and wears less makeup. Until the sternness wears off again.
Cancelling or re-writing the Constitution however, requires another Revolution to illegally declare this one defunct. And that is legally and technically and virtually impossible. Nevermind no one in Iran or out, has the stomach for any sort of Re-Revolution.
The best Psycho-Fantasy-SciFi-Anime-Romantic-Comedy one could imagine, is that that upon the death of Khamenei, while the Guardian Council is busy arguing amongst themselves deciding which one of them should become the new Supreme Leader, some kind of Secular Liberal retired IRGC Commander, with enough clout and a serious set of scrotums, could conceivably pull off a “Soft Coup” (or a hard one) and maybe quickly revise/replace the Constitution before anyone notices, and turn Iran back into the magical 1970’s era Pseudo Democracy it was.
And wouldn’t we all love to watch that movie!
*If you want to dig deeper into the truth about Iran’s reformers, in his excellent piece “The Moat that Preserves the Castle” Mahmoud Delkhasteh outlines in detail what Iran’s definition of Reform is.
** Iran’s 1906 Constitution was never legally nullified. In 1979 Khomeini used the false argument of a forced National Referendum to install a new Islamic Republic Constitution he had written, which was then revised in 1989 by Khamenei who felt it didn’t give the Supreme Leader enough absolute power. The illegal bypass of 1906 now raises the question as to the legality and legitimacy of the Islamic Republic, because 1906 has provisions for rewriting a Constitution based on a semi-simple majority of parliament. Rules which could have been easily followed in 1979, but weren’t. Hmmmm…. indeed!