Monday, March 14, 2011

Compromise? At What Price?

The Islamic Republic's political-battle-ground has seen some significant turnarounds in the past week or so.

The most significant development was the replacement of Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chair of both the powerful Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts, up to last week, and one of the most prominent architectures of the Islamic Republic, from the Assembly last Tuesday. He himself, not contesting, cleared the way for Mahdavi Kani, a reactionary cleric close to Ali Khamenei, to basically occupy the chair on behalf of the leader!

Earlier in the week in yet another Hashemies' back-down, Mr Mohsen Hashemi, the son of Mr Rafsanjani, had resigned from the management of Tehran's Underground Metro. The control over the blessed asset has always been the subject of an ugly feud between the Rafsanjani's family and the conservative government of president Ahmadi Nejad. Mohsen Hashemi and his father were widely perceived as ardent oppositions to president Ahmadi Nejad.

Days prior to these, leader's thugs had attacked Faeze Rafsanjani, the daughter of Hashemi Rafsanjani and once a member of parliament, and threatened to kill her, her family and his dad. It sounded like the ultimate message to the Rafsanjanies, left them to choose between only two options; either you are with us or against us--familiar phrase, though Iranian version.

Given the seriousness of the internal political-crisis of the Islamic Republic compounded by the effects of the recent social upheavals against dictators in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt; both Rafsanjani and Khamenei were aware of their options and the ensuing consequences. For Khamenei the only way forward, after putting Mr Mosavi and Karobi, the Green's leaders, under house-arrest, and at the same time threatening Mr Rafsanjani, was to, in fact, materialise those threats. However this would have had dire consequences for him and his generals; and perhaps led to the implosion of the Islamic Republic political establishment, if not immediate, in the short-term. That was more like a suicidal option. Besides, they had to ask themselves a question, say they manage to survive the implosion, what good does the removal of the local oppositions bring for them? The answer was simple; none. In fact, such move would force Iranians and the West to search for oppositions elsewhere! Khamenei and his fellows would not want that; that was a given.

Hence they were more inclined to compromise. The unusual and rather quick response by Ali Khamenei to publicly embrace Rafsanjani's move and happily congratulating him on the matter of the Assembly's election was a clear indication of his relief. Khamenei went further and denounced what he had orchestrated himself, using the most vulgar language by his thugs against Rafsanjani's daughter just few days earlier. If all these were not enough to show his jubilation; Khamenei signaled his thugs to move Mr Mosavi and Karobi along with their wives back into their homes, they had been moved to safe houses since Bahman 25, Feb 14. By these quick concessions to the Rafsanjani's moves, he was hopeful to cement some sort of going back to normality after close to two years of the tense political situation in Iran.  

For Rafsanjani and the Green's leaders, shielding in the same trench, on the other hand, the consequence of differing could have been more dangerous and immediate. They could be physically eliminated i.e. thugs may invade their homes and kill them by the name of Jihad (an Islamic call to fight against the god's enemy). That way Khamenei could wash his hands and blame the revolutionary people. For example, Nephew of Mr Mosavi has been shot dead in a peaceful demonstration in Tehran last year. That was a clear warning at the time. Moreover, Rafsanjani, Mosavi and Karobi all knew that they are in the same Islamic Republic Ship as are Khamenei and the generals after all. The ship has now encountered the worst heavy seas in its 32 years old voyage; Iranians are demanding their freedom and democracy; and the West is worrying with the regime's nuclear ambitions and its support and links with terrorist organizations. In addition, the recent demise of the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt has mirrored Khamenei's fate. From the three's view points, there was no logic in their actions if they were to be thrown off the board with the prospect of the ship itself being wrecked only later. After all Mr Mosavi and Karobi have all along shown their commitment to the Islamic Republic Constitution. Alike Khamenei and his camp, Rafsanjani, Mosavi and Karobi also knew the destiny of the Islamic Republic should harm come their way. 

Having this picture in mind and given the importance of the Rafsanjani's move, giving up the Assembly's chair where the Assembly is constitutionally conferred the power to dislodge the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamnei; the move was received by the Khamenei's camp as a good gesture. They appreciated it very much and readily expressed their willingness to accommodate the other side reasonable demands. But in all these political maneuvers between the Islamic Republic political factions; an absolutely imperative element is lost. That is the people of Iran. Where do they stand in the Iran's political-equation? Are these political factions able to ignore the people's demand? Do the Iranian people admit to the totalitarian regime should the political rivals reconcile their differences? Do the most educated people in the Middle East accept living under whims of a despot while the rest of the Africans and the Middle Easterners are getting rid of their dictators? I don't think so. 

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