Iran: Political Fact Sheet and Analysis

TSJones
BRF Oldie
Posts: 3022
Joined: 14 Oct 1999 11:31

Iran: Political Fact Sheet and Analysis

Postby TSJones » 11 Apr 2006 10:42

Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline ... /govt.html


An overview of the Iranian government and political system


On the surface, the U.S. and Iranian governments have much in common: a president who is popularly elected, a boisterous legislature, and a powerful judiciary. The obvious difference lies in the fact that Iran is an Islamic theocracy, and that one man, the Supreme Leader, exerts ideological and political control over a system dominated by clerics who shadow every major function of the state. While Western governments welcomed the election of Mohammad Khatami -- a forward-thinking cleric known for his moderate views -- to the presidency in 1997 (and again in 2001), there are areas of the Iranian power structure over which he has virtually no control, including the armed services. Below is a brief overview of the key components of Iran's government and political system.


SUPREME LEADER


At the top of Iran's power structure is the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the Iranian Revolution, upon Khomeini's death in 1989. Khomeini and Khamenei are the only two men to have held the office since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

According to Iran's Constitution, the Supreme Leader is responsible for the delineation and supervision of "the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran," which means that he sets the tone and direction of Iran's domestic and foreign policies. The Supreme Leader also is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and controls the Islamic Republic's intelligence and security operations; he alone can declare war or peace. He has the power to appoint and dismiss the leaders of the judiciary, the state radio and television networks, and the supreme commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He also appoints six of the twelve members of the Council of Guardians, the powerful body that oversees the activities of Parliament and determines which candidates are qualified to run for public office.

The Supreme Leader's sphere of power is extended through his representatives, an estimated 2,000 of whom are sprinkled throughout all sectors of the government and who serve as the Leader's clerical field operatives. In some respects the Supreme Leader's representatives are more powerful than the president's ministers and have the authority to intervene in any matter of state on the Supreme Leader's behalf.


FOUNDATIONS

Also under the control of the Supreme Leader are the foundations (called bonyads) that operate hundreds of companies and, according to some estimates, are allocated over half of the state budget and account for as much as 40 percent of the economy. Established shortly after the revolution, the foundations "confiscated billions of dollars in assets of the former royal family, banks, and ordinary homeowners," according to New York Times correspondent Elaine Sciolino in her book Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran (2000). Most of the foundations are exempt from taxes and are involved in activities ranging from trade and commerce to social services and cultural affairs.

"Two decades after the revolution," Sciolino writes, "the foundations are among the biggest economic complexes in the Middle East. ... Most of them are the individual fiefs of powerful clerics, and their size crowds out smaller private competitors who might be more efficient, even as their corruption fuels resentment."




PRESIDENT

The president is the second highest ranking official in Iran. While the president has a high public profile, however, his power is in many ways trimmed back by the constitution, which subordinates the entire executive branch to the Supreme Leader. In fact, Iran is the only state in which the executive branch does not control the armed forces.

The president is responsible for setting the country's economic policies. Though he has nominal rule over the Supreme National Security Council and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, in practice the Supreme Leader dictates all matters of foreign and domestic security. Eight vice presidents serve under the president, as well as a cabinet of 22 ministers. The Council of Ministers must be confirmed by Parliament.

Mohammad Khatami was elected president in 1997 in a stunning upset over the conservative establishment candidate, Speaker of the Parliament Ali-Akbar Nateq-Nouri. Khatami captured nearly 70 percent of the popular vote, with about 80 percent of eligible voters turning out.


PARLIAMENT

The Iranian Parliament is a unicameral legislative body whose 290 members are publicly elected every four years. It drafts legislation, ratifies international treaties, and approves the country's budget.

In the parliamentary elections of 2000, reformist candidates won nearly three-quarters of the seats in Parliament; only 14 percent of the newly elected deputies were clerics. However, Parliament is still held in check by the Council of Guardians, the influential oversight body that examines all laws passed by Parliament to determine their compatibility with sharia, or Islamic law. At times, the council, half of whose members are appointed by the Supreme Leader, has struck down up to 40 percent of the laws passed by Parliament.

Parliamentary sessions are open to the public; its deliberations are broadcast and its minutes are published. "Over the years," writes Elaine Sciolino in Persian Mirrors, "the debates [in Parliament] have provided a window into the everyday concerns and demands of the nation. ... I could always count on deputies in the Parliament, particularly those from obscure villages, to speak their minds."


ASSEMBLY OF EXPERTS

The Assembly of Experts, which meets for one week every year, consists of 86 "virtuous and learned" clerics elected by the public to eight-year terms. Like presidential and parliamentary elections, the Council of Guardians determines who can run for a seat in the assembly.

Members of the Assembly of Experts in turn elect the Supreme Leader from within their own ranks and periodically reconfirm him. The assembly has never been known to challenge any of the Supreme Leader's decisions.

Robin Wright, a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and the author of The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran (2000) compares the Assembly of Experts to the Vatican's College of Cardinals, and writes that it is the "most obscure of Iran's many [governing] bodies."


COUNCIL OF GUARDIANS

Twelve jurists comprise the Council of Guardians, six of whom are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The head of the judiciary recommends the remaining six, which are officially appointed by Parliament.

The Council of Guardians is vested with the authority to interpret the constitution and determines if the laws passed by Parliament are in line with sharia (Islamic law). This means that the council has effective veto power over Parliament. If it deems that a law passed by Parliament is incompatible with the constitution or sharia, it is referred back to Parliament for revision.

The council also examines presidential and parliamentary candidates to determine their fitness. At times, the council has dramatically winnowed the field of candidates. In the 1997 presidential election, for example, only four out of the 230 declared candidates made it to the ballot.


EXPEDIENCY COUNCIL

In 1988, when stalemates between Parliament and the Council of Guardians proved intractable, Ayatollah Khomeini created the Expediency Council and charged it with mediating disputes between the two bodies. Now, according to the constitution, the Expediency Council serves as an advisory body to the Supreme Leader, making it one of the most powerful governing bodies in the country, at least in name.

The council is currently headed by former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and the majority of its 34 members hail from the conservative parties. It has sided, for the most part, with the conservative Council of Guardians in its disputes with Parliament.

Recent calls for reform of the Expediency Council from parliamentary leaders have invoked U.S. President George W. Bush's 2002 State of the Union address, in which he denounced the "unelected few" in Iran who repress Iranians' democratic aspirations.

"Reforming the Expediency Council is in line with the people's demand for change, which they have voiced in various elections in the past five years," said Mohammad Reza Khatami, the deputy speaker of Parliament and President Mohammad Khatami's brother, as reported in The New York Times in March 2002. "It would not only be a step toward national unity but also a response to the president of United States, who distinguished between elected and nonelected institutions in Iran."



JUDICIARY

The judiciary branch of Iran's government is largely controlled by the Supreme Leader, who appoints the head of the judiciary, who in turn appoints the head of the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor.

Public courts deal with civil and criminal cases. There are also "revolutionary" courts that try certain categories of offenses, including crimes against national security, narcotics smuggling, and acts that undermine the Islamic Republic. Decisions rendered in revolutionary courts are final and cannot be appealed.

The rulings of the Special Clerical Court, which functions independently of the regular judicial framework and is accountable only to the Supreme Leader, are also final and cannot be appealed. The Special Clerical Court handles crimes allegedly committed by clerics, although it has also taken on cases involving lay people.


NATIONAL SECURITY & INTELLIGENCE

Iran is the only country whose executive does not control the armed forces. In fact, though the president has nominal rule over the Supreme National Security Council and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, in practice the Supreme Leader dictates all matters of foreign and domestic security.

-- SUPREME NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

Article 176 of Iran's Constitution sets up the Supreme National Security Council, and charges it with "preserving the Islamic Revolution, territorial integrity, and national sovereignty." Its members include: the president; speaker of Parliament; the head of the judiciary; the chief of the combined general staff of the armed forces; the ministers of foreign affairs, the interior, and intelligence; and the commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the regular military, among others.

As head of the Supreme National Security Council, the president helps coordinate the Supreme Leader's foreign policy directives.

-- REGULAR ARMY

Together with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the regular army comprises the Islamic Republic's armed forces.

According to Iran's Constitution, the regular army of the Islamic Republic is responsible for guarding the independence and territorial integrity of the country and maintaining order. The army, which falls under the control of the Supreme Leader, must be committed to Islamic ideology.

By all measures, the regular army is much better equipped than its other military counterparts in Iran. In the late 1980s, after eight years battling Iraq in a war in which it was largely outgunned, Iran's Parliament announced plans to spend $2 billion a year over five years to purchase weapons. Between 1989 and 2000, the Islamic Republic acquired 526 tanks, 72 combat aircraft, and 13 warships.

Still, Michael Eisenstadt, in a March 2001 article in the Middle East Review of International Affairs, says that Iran's military capabilities are "relatively limited. ... [Its] operational equipment inventories are relatively small, given the size of the country and the magnitude of its security problems. It would take tens of billion of dollars -- which Iran simply does not have -- to make it a major conventional military power."

-- ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (IRGC)

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which Khomeini created in May 1979, is charged with protecting the revolution and its achievements. It is separate and distinct from the "regular" military, and the rivalry between the two military branches has been everpresent since the founding of the Islamic Republic.

Though figures regarding the IRGC's troop strength vary, recent estimates put it at 120,000.

In 1982, the IRGC sent troops to Lebanon in support of the Shiite guerrilla group Hezbollah, and it has since become active in supporting Islamic revolutionary movements in other parts of the Muslim world. It is widely assumed that the IRGC is one of the most powerful supporters of Palestinian militant groups in the West Bank, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas movements.

To circumvent the weapons embargo that the U.S. imposed after the 1979 embassy takeover in Tehran, the IRGC built its own weapons infrastructure, procuring arms from China, North Korea, and the Soviet Union.

In Who Rules Iran? (2000), Wilfried Buchta writes, "Clearly the IRGC is among the most autonomous power centers in Iran, and it has resisted subordination to any civilian authority, from the presidential executive to the clerical control apparatus embodied in the Supreme Leader's representatives."

Buchta says that President Khatami, should he attempt to end the IRGC's unofficial export activities, would expose himself to immeasurable risk.

-- MINISTRY OF INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY (MOIS)

The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) is one of the most enigmatic entities operating in the Islamic Republic and reliable information about its structure and reach is hard to come by. What is known is that the Supreme Leader is in control of all matters of defense, security, and foreign policy, and that a special law dictates that the head of the MOIS must be a cleric, which deepens the Supreme Leader's influence.

According to the MOIS foundation law, which was passed by Parliament in 1983, the ministry is charged with the "gathering, procurement, analysis, and classification of necessary information inside and outside the country." It is responsible for disclosing conspiracies that sabotage the integrity of the Islamic Republic.

In Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran, Elaine Sciolino of The New York Times writes that MOIS's primary mission has been to eliminate political dissidents within Iran's borders. Michael Eisenstadt, in a March 2001 article in the Middle East Review of International Affairs, however, says that MOIS "plays the lead role in organizing and conducting terrorist operations abroad, and it runs operations out of Iranian embassies, consulates, and Islamic centers overseas."

In January 1999, MOIS admitted that "rogue" operatives were responsible for the recent murders of dissidents and intellectuals in Iran that had stunned the country. It confirmed what many had suspected all along.

TSJones
BRF Oldie
Posts: 3022
Joined: 14 Oct 1999 11:31

Postby TSJones » 11 Apr 2006 10:54

The current President of Iran bio:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinezhad

Rye
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 05 Aug 2001 11:31

Postby Rye » 11 Apr 2006 17:14

http://www.payvand.com/news/06/apr/1014.html

The Changing Landscape of Party Politics in Iran -- A Case Study
By Abbas William Samii, M.Phil., Ph.D. (Cantab.)
Source: VASETEH -- THE JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN SOCIETY FOR IRANIAN STUDIES, v. 1, n. 1 (Winter 2005)
Dr. Samii is the regional analysis coordinator for Southwest Asia and the Middle East at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Views in this article are his own.

Iran went from being a single-party state under the monarchy to having close to 100 political parties in the months immediately following the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.1 As the clerical revolutionary leadership consolidated its position it went after the more secular of these parties. The emergence of the Islamic Republic Party (IRP), which was established just 10 days after the collapse of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's regime, can be seen in this context -- its main task was to rally supporters of Velayat-i Faqih (Rule of the Supreme Jurisprudent) in an organization that had a clerical leadership. The need for this party died out as the opposition organizations disappeared, and it also suffered from internal ideological disputes and political competition -- the IRP disbanded in May-June 1987.

A few parties continued their activities in the coming years, and new ones emerged as well. Parties truly took off after President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami's election in 1997 and his promotion of them. The triumph of a hardline candidate in the 2005 presidential election, however, is not a sign that the surge of parties associated with Khatami has come to an end. Indeed, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is a member of a party -- Jamiyat-i Isargaran-i Inqilab-i Islami -- that has existed for less than a decade. This paper examines the emergence of this party and its role in Ahmadinejad's victory. This serves not only as a case-study on party politics on Iran, but it also provides insight on the political arrival of Iran's second revolutionary generation and what the future holds.

The role of parties in the Islamic Republic.
The existence of parties is codified in Iranian law.2 Article 26 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's 1979 constitution permits the "formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations, as well as religious societies, whether Islamic or pertaining to one of the recognized religious minorities... provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic Republic."
A Parties Law passed in September 1981 specified what a political party is and defined the conditions under which it could operate, and it made the formation of a party dependent on getting a permit from the Interior Ministry. Article 10 of the Parties Law specified that a commission (the Article 10 Commission) of one Interior Ministry official, two parliamentarians, and two judiciary representatives would issue party permits and dissolve parties acting illegally. The Parties Law was not really implemented until late-1988, when the Interior Ministry submitted to parliamentary pressure, and almost thirty organizations applied for permits in the following months.

During the 1980s and into the 1990s the main parties were primarily clerical. The conservative Tehran Militant Clergy Association (Jameh-yi Ruhaniyat-i Mobarez-i Tehran) actually predated the revolution. Members of this organization who were more reform-oriented created the Militant Clerics Association (Majma-yi Ruhaniyun-i Mobarez) in 1988. In 1996 the Executives of Construction (Kargozaran-i Sazandegi) was created to back then-President Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. This was a significant development because not only were the group's founders not clerics or ostentatiously Islamic in character, but it was technocratically-oriented and pragmatic ideologically.

Parties came into their own after the May 1997 election of a new president, Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, who was an advocate of their role in civil society, and a House of Parties was established in 2000 to create some sort of legal framework for party activities and to minimize differences between the parties.3 Yet Iranian officials acknowledge that their party system is far from perfect.

Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Javad Haq-Shenas said when he was secretary of the Article 10 Commission that although there is party political activity in the country, "the system, as a whole, is not conducive to political parties."4 A House of Parties was established in 2000 to create some sort of legal framework for party activities and to minimize differences between the parties. Mohammad Hassan Ghaffurifard, head of the Parties House, noted that Iran has more parties than most democracies, their activities are obscure, and the public has little confidence in them.5 The Parties House, he added, "does not support the parties whose activities are insignificant." In meeting with Parties House officials in late-2004, President Khatami said they must interact more effectively with the country's political groups.6

More than 100 licensed political organizations currently exist in Iran, but many of them -- such as the Islamic Association of Veterinarians -- have no real political role. Moreover, individuals can be members of several organizations. In elections, furthermore, the parties do not field candidates. Rather, each party publishes a list of candidates that it backs. Yet the different parties in a faction rarely back identical candidates. Political parties in Iran, therefore, are in a very dynamic state.

Origins of the Devotees
Of the more than 100 registered political organizations in Iran, one that is rarely discussed is the Jamiyat-i Isargaran-i Inqilab-i Islami, roughly translated as the Islamic Revolution Devotees Society and known simply as the Isargaran. Isar is the Arabic word for altruism and, in the Iranian context, isargaran (plural of isargar) has fairly specific connotations. "Isargari technically means giving selflessly and isargar refers to someone who gives selflessly to a sacred cause, but now it has been adopted for a specific meaning, namely somebody who has sacrificed in the name of the Islamic revolution," Iranian scholar Farideh Farhi writes.7 The term is used officially as a reference to those who have given their own or a loved one's life defending the regime.

Given this provenance, the word isargaran is used frequently in Iran. There is the Party for Defending Devotees and the Constitution (Hezb-i Defa az Isargaran va Qanun-i Asasi), as well as a Devotees of Pure Mohammedan Islam (Sazeman-i Isargaran-i Islam-i Nab-i Mohammadi). In August 2004, the latter group distributed registration forms for volunteers to defend the sacred shrines in Iraq. An Assembly of Devotees (Majma-yi Isargaran) existed in the sixth legislature. There also is a state foundation that provides services to the families of those who gave their lives in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War and to the former prisoners-of-war; it is called Bonyad-i Shahid va Omur-i Isargaran.

Working As A Party

Parliamentarian Hussein Fadai, who is from Shahr-i Rey in Tehran, is secretary-general of the Isargaran. Ali Darabi was his deputy until his replacement by Lutfollah Foruzandeh in October 2005. President Ahmadinejad is a founding member of the Isargaran, as is Economy and Finance Minister Davud Danesh-Jafari (who served in the fifth and seventh parliaments). Other prominent members are legislators Fatemeh Alia, Nafiseh Fayazbakhsh, and Mehdi Kuchakzadeh. Members in the media include the director of the hard-line daily Siyasat-i Ruz, Ali Yusefpur, as well as Bijan Moghaddam, who was appointed the director of Iran, the Islamic Republic News Agency's daily, in October 2005.

Mujtaba Shakeri, Hadi Imani, and Ahmad Moqimi are some of the other founding members of the Isargaran. Central council members elected in the February 2002 congress of the Isargaran, who are not identified above, are: Ali Ahmadi, Ali Mazaheri, Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri, Ahmad Nejabat, Abol-Hassan Faqih, Seyyed Jalal Fayazi, Ahmad Moqimi, Abdul Hussein Ruholamini-Najafabadi, Alireza Sarbakhsh, Sediqeh Shakeri, Masud Sultanpur, and Mohammad Ali Taqavi-Rad.8


Most members of the Isargaran are veterans of the Iran-Iraq War, and the organization also includes disabled veterans, freed prisoners of war, the family members of martyrs (people who died in the war), and those who were involved in the revolution against the monarchy. For example, Secretary-General Fadai's younger brother, Mohammad, served in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in northwestern Iran, and he lost his life during the campaign against Kurdish insurgents. Fadai himself was imprisoned for his revolutionary activities, and he served as a combat engineer during the war -- possibly with the IRGC. After the war, he continued as a military engineer -- apparently for the now-defunct Construction Jihad Ministry -- and then worked for the Oppressed and Disabled Foundation.

Election Competitions
According to some sources, the Isargaran began organized political activities in the year beginning March 1995, but the extent of its activities in the 1996 parliamentary elections is unknown. At least one of its founders was elected that year. According to a reformist newspaper, the Isargaran was founded on 3 February 1997.9

In the May 1997 presidential election, the Isargaran backed the conservative front-runner, Hojatoleslam Ali-Akbar Nateq-Nuri. Two years into Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami's tenure, in August 1999, the Isargaran issued a highly critical analysis of his presidency.10 The analysis noted a "lack of consideration for economic reform" and referred to unemployment, falling incomes, and a reduction in purchasing power. It accused the administration of replacing skilled managers with individuals not selected on the basis of merit. The analysis warned: "Social instability, growing acts of robbery and murder, social decadence, administrative corruption, and constant humiliation of the people in their day-to-day business dealings and a widening of the gap between the people's expectations and government policies have together created a deep crack which could culminate in a national crisis."

Isargaran unhappiness with Khatami continued, and the society issued another critique that dismissed presidential complaints about a lack of real power.11 It said individuals who raise these complaints are doing so to settle political rivalries instead of concentrating on solving people's problems: "In circumstances in which society is being eroded by economic problems, and hardships, unemployment, drug addiction, discrimination, and corruption on various levels, which economic or social dilemma can possibly be resolved by focusing on the issue of whether or not the president should be given more authority?" The Isargaran worried that the constitution's checks and balances are in danger.

Reformists won control of the sixth parliament (2000-04), but approximately one-sixth of the victors were candidates backed by the Isargaran. Fadai said the Isargaran "did not take part in any coalition and was the only formation or political party whose lists consisted of principled persons loyal to the ideals of the Imam and the followers of the leader."12 He continued, "Apart from Tehran, we presented 187 candidates, some of whom were also on other parties' lists; according to results announced up to noon yesterday, more than 50 of the Association's candidates have gained seats." A conservative newspaper reported that 42 Isargaran affiliates were elected.13

Regardless of these apparent gains, Isargaran warnings continued. In early 2001, the group announced that Iran was in danger of being subverted from within, as the efforts of foreign governments, counterrevolutionary groups, and elements within the ruling system converged.14 The repetition of American and "Yeltsinesque" reformist slogans are meant to deceive people, it said, and the legislators are being distracted from serving the public -- it referred to "popular issues," including "people's livelihood,...unemployment and other youth predicaments such as marriage and housing,...development,...security, being accountable,... respect for the law,... [and] the fight against poverty, corruption, and discrimination." A later Isargaran statement said that "extremists and the revisionist current" are preventing the legislature from doing its work.15

Fadai claimed that the United States is supporting the reformists.16 He urged "revolutionary forces and the genuine reformists" to adopt a resolute stance against these elements. Fadai continued: "America must be made to realize that among the revolutionaries who are firmly committed and loyal to the ideals of the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] and the Islamic revolution martyrs, there are no disputes and disagreements about the principles of preservation of independence, and the rejection of foreign domination and interference. Furthermore, it must be made absolutely clear that those who link their fates with the demands and aspirations of America can expect nothing but loss and harm in the future."

A Hard-Line Resurgence
Reformist domination of elected institutions seemed fairly complete after the 2000 parliamentary race, with control of the executive and legislative branches, as well as the municipal councils. The hard-liners did not give up, however, and turned their attention to the 2003 council elections. Indeed, it was at this time that the heretofore unknown Islamic Iran Developers Council (Etelaf-i Abadgaran-i Iran-i Islami) emerged, and 14 of 15 candidates whom it backed won seats in Tehran. The council then selected a mayor -- Isargaran founding member Mahmud Ahmadinejad -- on 29 April 2003.

The hard-liners then focused on the next election -- for the legislature in 2004. As part of the Coordination Council of Islamic Revolution Forces, the Isargaran backed 17 exclusive candidates, and it backed another 13 who had the support of other parties.17 Isargaran leader Hussein Fadai, furthermore, headed the Abadgaran election committee.18 Aided by the Guardians Council's rejection of most viable reformist candidates -- including more than 80 incumbents -- the Abadgaran fared well in that race, winning all the seats in Tehran and many more in other constituencies.

The Isargaran were not content with this situation, however, and set about trying to create an Isargaran faction in the legislature.19 Abadgaran leaders discouraged this in an effort to impose uniformity and the appearance of cohesion. When Hojatoleslam Nateq-Nuri addressed an Isargaran central committee meeting, he emphasized the need for unity among the hard-line forces.20

Eyeing The Prize
The Tehran press began discussing Tehran Mayor Ahmadinejad as a presidential candidate in the summer of 2004, but he was such an unknown quantity at the time that other prospective candidates garnered much more media attention in the ensuing months. The Isargaran continued to work quietly during that time, but it issued a prophetic statement: "The more famous the candidates, the more their agendas will be overshadowed by their names, and consequently the destiny of the country will be the same as it has been up to now."21

But any illusions about unity and solidarity among the conservatives had been put aside. As of December 2004, there were at least five possible hard-line candidates, and as some stepped aside others took their places. When the more traditional Coordination Council of Islamic Revolution Forces -- which included the older organizations such as the Tehran Militant Clergy Association and the Islamic Coalition Party -- met in March 2005 and selected Ali Larijani as its candidate, Hussein Fadai of the Isargaran abstained from voting. Soon thereafter he created what came to be known as Coordination Council II, which considered others' candidacies.

The Isargaran eventually backed the candidacy of national police chief and former Revolutionary Guard Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, announcing that he won out over Ahmadinejad, Larijani, Ali-Akbar Velayati, Mohsen Rezai, and Ahmad Tavakoli.22 The Isargaran statement explained that all the candidates had the minimum qualifications, and it added that the Isargaran met with all the candidates to exchange views. The society pledged that it would depend on the outcome of public opinion polls to determine who would earn the most votes, and for that reason it chose Qalibaf.

This was a peculiar situation, with a party backing someone other than one of its founders. The move could be perceived as a Machiavellian political maneuver meant to deceive the competitors in the presidential race. Indeed, after his loss, Qalibaf complained of betrayal by his supposed supporters. The decision to back Qalibaf, furthermore, created splits in the Isargaran -- central council member Abol-Hassan Faqih left to lead Ahmadinejad's election headquarters, deputy-secretary general Ali Darabi joined Ahmadinejad's campaign, and Ali Ahmadi left to head Mohsen Rezai's campaign.23

Regardless, the Isargaran backed Ahmadinejad in the second round of the election, when he defeated Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. The Isargaran announced: "Undoubtedly, our association will firmly support Mahmud Ahmadinezhad, a principle-ist candidate, who is the symbol of justice and honesty in action and words, and will full our religious and national duty."24

What Does The Future Hold?
There appear to be real and continuing differences between Ahmadinejad and the group that he helped found. As the legislature considered the president's nominees for cabinet positions in August, the parliamentary presiding board supported the nominees. Isargaran and Abadgaran parliamentarians were reportedly the leading opponents because they did not have sufficient input on the candidates.25 Four of the 21 nominees failed to win votes of confidence. When the legislature considered the four new nominees in early November, it approved three of them. In the face of intense criticism of his inexperience and his suspiciously amassed wealth, the nominee for petroleum minister withdrew his name from consideration just hours before parliament met to give its votes of confidence.

The Isargaran held its third major conference in early October, and the organization's provincial leaders and central committee members were in attendance.26 The organization appears to be in a strong position -- members include the president and a member of his cabinet, parliamentarians, a Tehran council member (Masud Zaribafan), and a provincial governor (Seyyed Solat Mortazavi of Khorasan Razavi Province). Its role in having some cabinet nominees rejected shows that it is capable of mobilizing support and is becoming a political actor of some import. On the other hand, the growing distance between the Isargaran and Ahmadinejad suggests that it will not be a trouble-free process. Moreover, Isargaran member Mujtaba Shakeri said that the organization has yet to determine its relationship with the Coordination Council of Islamic Revolution Forces.27

In broader terms, this case study highlights two important features of the Iranian political landscape. The first is that more than twenty-five years after the revolution the political system remains very dynamic and is therefore unpredictable. Under these circumstances, using historical examples, possessing a thorough knowledge of system's institutions and legal framework, and knowing the specific personalities are essential when trying to make sense of developments.

The second thing to bear in mind is that men like Ahmadinejad and organizations like the Isargaran represent a younger generation whose formative experience was the Iran-Iraq War and which wants a greater say in the country's affairs. These are not the clerics whose formative experience was resistance to the monarchy and then leading the country after the revolution, and who in some case have become very rich since coming to power. Ahmadinejad is a populist who in his campaign stressed anti-corruption and won praise for his modest lifestyle. In his foreign policy speeches during the campaign he stressed Third Worldism, and since then he has shown his disdain for the West and commonly accepted diplomatic norms. These are the people and the institutions that the world must deal with for the next two decades.

ENDNOTES
1 On early political conflicts in the Islamic republic, see Sharough Akhavi, "Elite Factionalism in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Middle East Journal, v. 41, n. 2 (Spring 1987); Maziar Behrooz, "Factionalism in Iran under Khomeini," Middle Eastern Studies, v. 27, n. 4 (October 1991); and Cyrus Vakili-Zad, "Conflict among the Ruling Revolutionary Elite in Iran," Middle Eastern Studies, v. 30, n. 3 (July 1994).
2 On the legal background of parties, see Asghar Schirazi, The Constitution of Iran: Politics and the State in the Islamic Republic, John O'Kane, trans., (London: I.B. Tauris), 1997, and Bogdan Szajkowski, ed., Political Parties of the World, 6th edition, (John Harper Publishing, 2005), pp. 307-309.
3 On the growing role played by parties in the country's politics, see Stephen C. Fairbanks, "Theocracy Versus Democracy: Iran Considers Political Parties," Middle East Journal, v. 52, n. 1 (Winter 1998); Mark J. Gasiorowski, "The Power Struggle in Iran," Middle East Policy, v. 7, n. 4 (October 2000); and Mehdi Moslem, Factional Politics in Post-Khomeini Iran, (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2002).
4 Iran, 16 September 2001.
5 Entekhab, 13 September 2003.
6 Islamic Republic News Agency, 3 November 2004.
7 Farideh Farhi, "The Antinomies of Iran's War Generation," in Iran, Iraq, and the Legacies of the War, Lawrence B. Potter and Gary G. Sick, eds. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. 115, fn7.
8 Jomhuri-yi Islamic, 6 March 2002.
9 Farhang-i Ashti, 9 June 2005.
10 Jomhuri-yi Islami, 26 August 1999.
11 Sobh, 5 December 2000.
12 Resalat, 21 February 2000.
13 Kayhan, 25 February 2000.
14 Resalat, 7 February 2001.
15 Resalat, 28 November 2001.
16 Resalat, 31 July 2002.
17 Iran, 16 February 2004.
18 Hamshahri, 27 May 2004.
19 Iran Daily, 9 June 2004.
20 Shoma, 30 September 2004.
21 Siyasat-i Ruz, 2 January 2005.
22 Siyasat-i Ruz, 30 May 2005.
23 Farhang-i Ashti, 9 June 2005.
24 Kayhan, 20 June 2005.
25 Etemad, 23 August 2005.
26 Iran, 2 October 2005.
27 Iranian Students News Agency, 17 October 2005.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50220
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 11 Apr 2006 19:23

Thanks TSJ. Folks we need to analyse these facts and read the tea leaves. Please post the item about Tueday nite surprise also.

Rye
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 05 Aug 2001 11:31

Postby Rye » 11 Apr 2006 19:46

This has been reported elsewhere as ' good nuclear news'

http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/menu-23 ... 002803.htm

Ahmadinejad: Tomorrow night, Iranians would be delighted hearing good news
Mashhad, April 11, IRNA

Ahmadinejad-Nuclear-Good News
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here on Monday night, "By grace of God and to the grandeur of Imam Reza (PBUH) the entire Iranian nation would be delighted hearing good news tomorrow night.

Addressing the families of Mashhad martyrs and war disabled veterans, Ahmadinejad added, "After hearing the entire good news tomorrow night the Iranians should prostrate before Almighty Allah, since it would be high time for thanks given to Him."
He added, "By grace of Allah and relying on brave resistance of you, the families of the revolution's martyrs and war disabled veterans our enemies cannot do a damned thing in their confrontation with us, and they know this very well."

Further stressing that "They know they cannot do a damned thing, the president said, "The thirty-day moratorium, too, is in fact a time they have given to themselves, since what do we have to halt here, save for abandoning our absolute right?"

He added, "We are the only country in the world whose entire (nuclear) activities are under the supervision of the (International Atomic Energy) Agency and they are liars in their claim that we have breached (the rules), since we conduct all our activities openly." The President said, "We invite them to come here and see everything personally," adding, "We have no hard feelings for any one."

Ahmadinejad added, "We have a legal right, based on the laws written by they themselves, and we would proceed based on those laws, and if there needs to be any restrictions, it should be for them, not for us."
Ahmadinejad added, "The Iran crisis they talk about does not exist in Iran, but is a crisis for those who are confronting us and the strong Iranian nation is relying on its faith and its scientific achievements capable of defending itself.

"Since we have an Islamic-democratic system it would soon become a very popular model for many other nations in the world and that is what our enemies are scared of."
He added, "Iran's scientific and economic advancement equates broadening the Islamic Republic's cultural and political influence and they fear lest Iran would conquer the highest peaks at the international scene rapidly."

He said, "If we achieve the nuclear technology we will be needless of the nuclear weapons because in order to become a big power Iran is not in need of the nuclear bomb."

The President said, "Other nations, too, would be delighted to see that we have mastered the entire nuclear technology and that is what the world nations' politicians tell us in their meetings with us."

President Ahmadinejad said, "Despite being faced with sanctions for 27 years, restrictions, economic and propagation pressure, the Iranians have now achieved success in the field of basic cells, aerospace engineering, and producing nuclear energy."
He added, "Our enemies suddenly opened their eyes and noticed that we had achieved those high peaks of sciences and technology.

"Today, some countries have not only deviated from peaceful purposes in the field of nuclear energy, but also manufactured the nuclear bomb, and that is no place for concern for the superpowers." President Ahmadinejad said, "When a nation wishes to gain its rights the key word to its success is resistance and achieving divine ideals is impossible without tolerating hardships, being faced with pressure, and confrontation with lots of plots."

Praising the martyrs and the war disabled veterans, he said, "This government is determined not to chant any slogans without making sure that the vowed promises would be kept," adding, "I hope in my next visit of this province the employment, housing and medical problems of the martyrs and war disabled veterans' families would be fully solved."

Rye
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 05 Aug 2001 11:31

Postby Rye » 11 Apr 2006 19:50

http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/menu-23 ... 190529.htm


Iran does not need nuclear weapons: Ambassador
Ankara, April 9, IRNA

Iran-Military Exercise-Ambassador
Iran's Ambassador to Ankara Firouz Dowlatabadi said here Sunday that the Great Prophet (PBUH) military exercise conducted in the Persian Gulf waters last week proved that Iran does not need any nuclear weapons.

In an exclusive interview with IRNA, he said, "Recent military exercise was a response to futile allegations made by the US and Zionist regime that Iran wants to manufacture nuclear weapons." "The military exercise proved that Iran does not need nuclear weapons and Iranian nuclear program has noting to do with military aspect," he said.

"Successful test fire of missiles in the military exercise showed that they can meet Iran's defensive requirement in modern wars," he said.

Throughout the history, Iran has always played a direct role to help neighboring states maintain security in the region, he said and refuted allegations that the exercise of the armed forces was a threat to Iran's neighbors.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has had the best possible relations with its neighbors, especially after triumph of the Islamic Revolution," he underlined.

On Iran-Turkey military cooperation, he said the two countries are now experiencing a developing military ties.

Referring to the last year visit of Iranian military delegation to Turkey, he said, "We hope to witness further exchange of visits by military delegations from Iran and Turkey."
Expansion of military cooperation between Iran and Turkey could leave a positive impact on restoration of peace and security of the region, he added.

Rye
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 05 Aug 2001 11:31

Postby Rye » 11 Apr 2006 20:43

Ahmedinejad's speech has not yet been published. Will post it here as soon as it shows up.


http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-22 ... 170030.htm

President: Gov't keen to establish friendly ties with neighboring states Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Prov, April 11, IRNA
Iran-Ahmadinejad-Relations
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday said that the government is interested in establishing brotherly and friendly ties with the neighboring states.


Speaking at a gathering of thousands of the residents of the border town of Dargaz, he added that the government's definite policy is to enter into such ties at any point where proper grounds for friendly exchanges exist.

"Expansion of full relations in the domains of trade, industries, agriculture and energy with the neighboring countries is one of the government's policies.

Turning to disruption in the flow of gas from Turkmenistan to Iran over the past months, he added that a while ago, Turkmen officials in charge called for increasing the gas price.

"Then they proposed a higher price, which was accepted by us.

However, after a while they declared that they are determined to stop the flow of gas.

"In response we called for solving the issue through dialogue, which is currently underway," added the chief executive.

Ahmadinejad noted that all the points brought up by Turkmenistan have been settled in one way or another, adding that Iran cannot be indifferent to the people's needs.

"We are doing our best to complete Sarakhs-Dargaz gas pipeline within the current year to make domestic gas supply accessible to people.

The president pointed to Iran as a large country with plenty of subterranean natural resources and, yet more important, wonderful human talent and said that enthusiastic, informed, active and revolutionary young generation is a national asset facilitating development based on justice, convergence and unity.

"The government is determined to distribute fairly the available facilities, potentials and its time in all points across the country.

"Given the high importance of the youth employment, three plans have been drawn up by the government to this effect. The first plan is to expedite development projects such as building dams, refineries, roads, hospitals, etc.

Ahmadinejad referred to the second plan as investment in small fast-yielding agencies in the sectors of agriculture, industries, and tourism among others, adding that the government will fully support such activities and will allocate extensive resources to this end.

The president said that the relevant credit is expected to be approved by the cabinet at a meeting in Mashhad on Thursday, adding that immediately afterwards, the share of all provincial cities and towns, in particular Dargaz, will be declared.

2326/1412

Rye
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 05 Aug 2001 11:31

Postby Rye » 11 Apr 2006 22:49

http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-24 ... 200039.htm

EC chairman: Iran has successfully produced nuclear fuel Kuwait City, April 11, IRNA
Iran-Nuclear Program-Rafsanjani
Iran has succeeded in producing nuclear fuel in the first stage of Research and Development (R&D), by injecting gas into centrifuges, Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Tuesday.

Rafsanjani told KUNA that Iranian technicians have managed to produce fuel for the power plants by commissioning 164 centrifuges.

KUNA quoted Rafsanjani as saying that Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei will see the new situation during his upcoming visit to Iran.

He said that Iran sees use of nuclear energy as its legitimate right in line with Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Safeguards Agreement of UN nuclear agency.


Return to “Strategic & Security Issues Archive”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests