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Sort Of Good News From Iran

The Associated Press reports: Moderate Wins Powerful Post In Iran

(AP) Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani was picked Tuesday as head of a powerful clerical body empowered with choosing or dismissing Iran’s supreme leader, state-run television reported.

Rafsanjani received 41 votes to become head of the Assembly of Experts, a body of 86 senior clerics charged with monitoring Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and choosing his successor.

The former president, who is considered more moderate than current hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, defeated Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, an extremist within the hard-line camp. Jannati received 30 votes, state TV said.

Rafsanjani is certainly more sane than Jannati, and a lot more stable than Ahmadinejad’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, but these are relative rankings. The Assembly of Experts, in American terms, is a permanent Electoral College. It is the only brake on the power of the Supreme Leader. It is a minimal shift to the rational, but no one should expect any major changes.

The bloom came off Ahmedinejad’s rose when he had to institute gasoline rationing, in an attempt to moderate the budget slump caused by the government subsidies. People found a new reason to be annoyed beyond his periodic pushes to introduce orthodoxy on an urban population.

Rafsanjani has won a more powerful position for his political ambitions than if he had become president, but he isn’t anyone you want to “do lunch” with.

8 comments

1 Steve Bates { 09.04.07 at 4:55 pm }

A more moderate leader, and even “a minimal shift to the rational” … I like those ideas; could we have those things here in America? Seriously, anything that will crank down the rhetoric spewing from the mouths of “leaders” here and in Iran lately is all to the good. It’s after Labor Day now, and there’s a “product” I very much don’t want to see rolled out.

2 Bryan { 09.04.07 at 5:27 pm }

It’s better than the alternative, but more of a Stalin to Khrushchev thing than a real march to reality.

3 whig { 09.05.07 at 3:03 am }

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

4 jams o donnell { 09.05.07 at 8:34 am }

Iranian politics seem to have oscillated between the hard line fundamentalists and the slightly fmore pragmatic sort. Not a huge step in the right direction for the people of Iran but Rafsanjani is a much less worse choice that his opponent. (jams o donnell speaks the blindingly obvious again!)

5 Bryan { 09.05.07 at 10:27 am }

Possibly “whew” and if it prevented someone from going over the precipice, although I seem to remember that a bag of wool is the traditional answer, Whig.

So far, Jams, they have avoided the model of the French Revolution, but I’m not counting on it. Things are in a very delicate balance. Left to their own devices, the people of Iran would probably move towards a less hostile country, but the hard-liners will exploit every threat, real or perceived.

6 Badtux { 09.05.07 at 6:07 pm }

According to one of Juan Cole’s regular Iran commentators, Rafsanjani is no more pro-American than anybody else in Iran these days, and has been directly involved in making preparations for the American invasion of Iran that everybody there is expecting. The fact that he is a pragmatic leader rather than a dogmatic leader does not mean anything insofar as the basic stance of Iran vis a vis the United States. The current U.S. tilt towards the Sunni side in the ongoing Iraqi Civil War has seriously ticked off pretty much everybody in Iran, even the “moderates”.

7 Bryan { 09.05.07 at 8:27 pm }

The good news, such as there is, would be that Rafsanjani will be harder to sucker that the hardest-liners such as Yazdi and Ahmedinejad, but the people planning this stupidity should understand that he will also do a much better job of ensuring there is a very nasty response to any attack.

Former president Khatami was the last, best chance for a reasonable outcome, and the US blew it by ignoring the assistance that Iran offered. Khatami received nothing but more demands for his efforts, so there will be no more forthcoming.

Arming the Sunni tribes is as dumb as it comes. These guys aren’t like the Hopi, they are like Mafia families. Their problem with AQI was that it was cutting into their “traditional” rights, like extortion and highway robbery. I can almost guarantee that half of the “tips” about “al Qaeda”, actually involve rival tribes and settling old scores, as happened in Afghanistan.

8 News Update { 09.20.07 at 6:03 am }

Daily News Update…

Iran frees US-Iranian scholaron bail today…