Still a Theocrat

6 July 2024


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

"Reformist" Wins Iranian Presidency

Iranians went to the polls this week for a second round of voting for the president of their republic. The contest pitted hardliners Saeed Jalili against a less hardline Masoud Pezeshkian, whom some claim is a "reformer." In something of a surprise, Dr. Pezeshkian won with 54.7% of the vote. In an equal surprise, turn out rose from 39% in the first round to 49.8% in the second. Usually, that would be a sign that the regime was cheating. Despite this somewhat positive move, one must remember that Dr. Pezeshkian was allowed to run by the Council of Guardians, who rejected dozens of candidates who were not allowed to run. In other words, there is only so much reforming he is likely to do because he is still within the consensus of the theocracy.

The Guardian reported,'The snap presidential election was caused by the death of Ebrahim Raisi, the incumbent, in a helicopter crash in May. Raisi had been seen as a potential successor to the 85-year-old supreme leader, and his death has thrown that succession into disarray. The decision is taken by an 88-strong body, the assembly of experts."

This means that the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is going to hang on even longer than he might have otherwise. The election of a president does not change the power structure in Iran, which lies with the Ayatollah and not the Doctor. The Supreme Leader is going to have to fix the succession to ensure that the new president does not stray too far from the desires of the dictatorship.

So one should not expect anything new. The US officials pointed to the boycott of the elections by a large part of Iranian voters and wrote, "The elections in Iran were not free and fair. As a result, a significant number of Iranians chose not to participate at all."

The statement added, "We have no expectation that these elections will lead to a fundamental change in Iran's path or greater respect for the human rights of citizens. As the candidates themselves have said, Iran's policy is determined by the leader."

That is not to say that the election of President Pezeskhian makes no difference at all. "A reform-minded president, despite all the limitations and failures of the past, is still meaningfully better -- in some significant way it would put some constraint on the authoritarianism of the Islamic Republic," said Nader Hashemi, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at George Washington University.

President Pezeshkian understands that the sanctions on Iran are at the root of the national economic mess. Indeed, during the campaign he called the sanctions an economic cage brought on by the foreign policy of the clerics. Mr. Jalili argued that the sanctions created an economic sanctuary, and the less the country has to do with the West the better. The world has had enough of Iran sulking. Iranians have had enough as well. An Iran more willing to engage and compromise is a good thing for everyone.

With that in mind, the West should listen to the proposals that come from Tehran. If the Iran nuclear deal, what is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JPCOA], were to become a subject of discussion, the West should do all it can to revive it. Unfortunately, the Americans may elect Donald Trump again, in which case, this is all just so much wishful thinking.

The impact that Dr. Pezeshkhian can have on Iran domestically is much greater. He will have to fight the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the clerics as they want to keep the jackboot on the necks of the people. He can relax the rules about how women dress. He can alter the way money is spent in the country, perhaps to the benefit of the people themselves rather than a faction of the clergy.

© Copyright 2024 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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