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Iran Daneshjoo Organization News Service

Iran Daneshjoo Organization News Service -

Azadi e Andishe, Hamishe...! Hamishe...! Freedom of Thought, For Ever...! For Ever...!

Welcome to this edition of the News provided by the "Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran".

There are 8 articles in this news edition:

1) Payvand: Mosharekat (Iran): Accept people’s votes 2) AP: Fight for parliament post hints at rift among Iran reformists 3) AFP: Rafsanjani not out of woods yet in Iran vote as loser files complaint 4) AP: Iran President vows Islam won't suffer in reforms 5) Reuters: Women's issues seen topping Iran assembly's agenda 6) Reuters: Iran parliament votes to ease labour law 7) NY Times (US): Clerical Error " Iran´s Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.." 8) Jerusalem Post (Israel): More pragmatic... but still Iran

A) More news:

1- Washington Post (US): Iran's Supreme Leader May Have to Follow 2- AFP: Newcomers keen for reform to pack new Iranian parliament 3- Reuters: Iran officials say polls 'free and fair' 4- UPI: Rafsanjani Wins Seat in Iranian Parliament " without referring to the small percentage of votes he won, Rafsanjani said he respected the "people's opinion ..." 5- AFP: UAE calls for Gulf panel to work on land dispute with Iran after polls 6- Reuters: In recount, former president edges into Iran's parliament 7- NY Times (US): Books: The Last Great Revolution 8- AFP: Iraqi mines kill nearly 400 Iranians in ten years 9- US State Department: Excerpt from 2/23 Briefing 10- AFP: Spies raise spectre of Middle East missile attack on Europe: press 11- Russia Today (Russia): Iran Poll May Herald Caspian Oil Shake-Up 12- Reuters: FOCUS-Hizbollah asks France to punish Jospin 13- AFP: Lebanese parliamentary speaker to arrive in Tehran Sunday

B) Swedish Articles:

C) German Articles:

D) French Articles:


Accept people’s votes

Mosharekat daily By Mohsen Mirdamadi

26 February 2000

Counting the votes for the 6th Majlis was concluded and the results published. Although many candidates and political groups did not reach the desired results, it is the duty of all to accept people’s votes and viewpoints in the election.

Naturally, the duty of the bodies in charge of organizing and supervising the elections is heavier than others in guarding people’s votes. Such bodies are people’s trustees, and should fulfil their duty honestly, regardless of their political tendencies.

Unfortunately, in previous Majlis elections, in not so few cases, the Guardian council has had a quite questionable attitude in post-election investigations, canceling the outcome of some ballots or constituencies. In some cases where the number of the votes of individuals was close, the attitude was such that the votes of the original elected candidate was decreased and those of the preferred candidate increased. In some cases, the results of some polling stations were entirely rejected.

The important point is that in all those instances, figures eyed by the right faction were promoted or, if this was not possible, the election results were cancelled to prevent figures from the rivaling faction to enter the Majlis. In the recent elections, some people may be intending to repeat the unacceptable attitude of the past in constituencies where the number of the votes of the elected candidate and that of the next runner are close. The Guardian Council should not be affected and it should accept people’s votes. But if such a thing happens, and if those who have not obtained the majority of people’s votes enter the Majlis through collusion and using their political affiliations, the elected deputies of the Majlis should decisively stand against them and, by rejecting their credentials, not allow such figures enter the House of the Nation.

Otherwise they will not have fulfilled their duty and given a proper answer to people’s trust.


Fight for parliament post hints at rift among Iran reformists

By Vijay Joshi


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) In a sign of an emerging rift in the reformist coalition that won Iran's elections, a major faction said it will back a former president for the key post of parliament speaker even though he has been increasingly considered a conservative.

The Executives of Construction Party will talk Monday with other factions to lobby in favor of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, said Mohammed Atrianfar, a top policy-maker of the party. The party supported Rafsanjani in the Feb. 18 elections.

Atrianfar told The Associated Press that Rafsanjani was a reformist at heart and could help the movement because of his influence with the hard-liners.

But Atrianfar acknowledged that the other major reformist party the Islamic Iran Participation Front bitterly opposes Rafsanjani. The front, as well as smaller reform groups, see Rafsanjani as representing the old guard.

This is the first informal nomination of a candidate for the race for the speaker's post the country's top spot after the supreme leader and the president. It could be a battle that would expose the fractious nature of the new parliament.

Reformists won 29 of the 30 seats in the crucial district of Tehran. Rafsanjani finished 30th.

On Sunday, recounting was ordered in a few ballot boxes in Tehran following a complaint about counting errors by a candidate who finished 31st, said Mostafa Tajzadeh, head of elections headquarters. The recount will finish within two days, but is not expected to change the overall result, he said.

The reformist coalition won 170 seats in the 290-seat parliament with 65 seats to be decided in run-offs. Elections are not fought on party lines but political affiliations of most candidates are well known.

The Construction Party and the Participation Front control about an equal number of seats in parliament.

The hard-liners, who will certainly support Rafsanjani, won 44 seats, losing control of the parliament for the first time since 1979, when the clergy came to power.

Rafsanjani was speaker from 1980-89, when he was elected president. He served until 1997. As head of state, he gained popularity as a moderate at a time when the country was in the grip of hard-liners.

It was with his tacit approval that the Construction Party came into existence in 1996, advocating social and cultural reforms. Though the party's program was modest, its ideas were radical for the time.

Rafsanjani's successor, President Mohammad Khatami, started a much more ambitious and wider reform program in 1997, loosening many restrictions imposed by the ruling clergy.

With his reputation overshadowed by Khatami, Rafsanjani began tilting toward the hard-liners before this month's parliamentary elections, attracting charges of being an opportunist.

''Rafsanjani is being victimized by a propaganda campaign by radical reformists,'' Atrianfar said. He said his party will appeal to Khatami to persuade other reformists to support Rafsanjani.

Atrianfar hailed Rafsanjani as the original reformist by starting an economic revival program during his presidency to rebuild a nation devastated by eight years of war with Iraq.

But reformists blame Rafsanjani's presidency for many of the country's current economic woes and ruining Iran's international credit record.


Rafsanjani not out of woods yet in Iran vote as loser files complaint

TEHRAN, Feb 27 (AFP) - Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who narrowly won a parliamentary seat after a controversial vote recount, may still not have secured his place in the assembly, the interior ministry said Sunday.

Deputy Interior Minister Mostafa Tajzadeh told a press conference that Mohammad Ali Rahmani, who lost the 30th and last seat from Tehran to Rafsanjani, has asked for a recount because of "irregularities" at 35 polling stations.

"If the ministry and all electoral committees find any basis to the complaint, a new re-count which could have an effect on the results cannot be ruled out," he said.

Rafsanjani, who according to the first official results had been relegated to a second-round run-off for candidates who did not win at least 25 percent of the vote, was later awarded the last of 30 MP spots representing the capital.

Some 100,000 voting papers were re-examined, giving the 66-year-old Rafsanjani -- who appeared destined for political oblivion after not winning in the first round -- a spot in the legislature.

The 35 polling stations referred to in the complaints of Rahmani, a pro-reform independent who would have given reformers a clean sweep in the capital, handled ballots from about 40,000 voters in Tehran.

An interior ministry spokesman said last week there had been concerns that votes for Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh Hashemi, who did not win a seat, had been counted by mistake as votes for her father.

But a conservative newspaper charged that there had been fraud to the detriment of Rafsanjani, a two-term president and speaker of parliament who allowed himself to be put top of the conservative list in Tehran in the election campaign.

Reformers backing President Mohammad Khatami romped to victory in the February 18 polls as voters ousted the longstanding conservative majority in the legislature that blocked Khatami's social, political and economic reforms.

Tajzadeh also denied there had been any "fraud" in the balloting but acknowledged there might have been some "inaccuracies" in the vote count.


Iran President vows Islam won't suffer in reforms

Associated Press February 27, 2000

TEHRAN President Mohammad Khatami said Saturday that the social and political reforms he started won't come at the expense of Islam, and it doesn't matter "what others say or want."

The reforms are "part of the essence" of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that installed the clergy's rule in Iran, the president said.

Khatami's remarks to Foreign Ministry officials came as his allies took firm control of parliament after the final count in the Feb. 18 elections was announced Saturday.

The comments appeared to be an attempt to strike a conciliatory tone toward the rigid theocrats who, though ousted from control of parliament for the first time since 1979, still wield power. They control the judiciary as well as key institutions that can override the legislature.

Since his landslide victory in 1997, Khatami has loosened the clergy-imposed restrictions in the daily lives of Iranians, increased press freedom and generally decreased the influence of conservatives.

Khatami said the Islamic Revolution "is introducing an Islam in which the people enjoy freedom." At the same time, Iran is committed to the revolution, he said, adding that "reforms never mean giving up principles."

"Reforms are moves toward materialization of the demands of the Islamic Revolution. . . . It is not important what others say or want," he said.

According to final results, Khatami's allies, campaigning on a platform to boost his programs, won 170 seats in the 290-seat parliament. The conservative theocrats won 45 and independents 10; the remaining 65 seats will be decided in runoffs in April.

In the crucial seats representing Tehran, reformists led by Khatami's younger brother, Mohammadreza Khatami, won 29 of the 30 slots.

Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani secured the 30th place in Tehran with the least number of votes among the winning candidates.


Women's issues seen topping Iran assembly's agenda

TEHRAN, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Improving the status of women will be at the top of the agenda for Iran's new parliament dominated by moderates and reformists, a woman MP said on Sunday.

Soheila Jelodarzadeh, a women's rights activist, said she hoped women would benefit from the more liberal thinking in the incoming assembly, which convenes in May.

"Given the scarcity of women elected, we need help and cooperation from male deputies for enough votes to pursue women's issues," she told the official IRNA news agnecy.

A total of nine women were elected to the 290-seat parliament and six more face run-off votes. The outgoing assembly has 14 women out of 270 members.

The new parliament will be dominated by moderate MPs, including more than 100 hard-core reformers sympathetic to women's causes.

Jelodarzadeh, one of the biggest vote-winners in the February 18 elections, said she would push to amend laws in favour of women in the civil code.

"The present civil code is 90 years old and ineffective," she said. "The law has to be revised, given the high status of women in Islam."

Women's social and professional status have generally improved in Islamic Iran, but many women still feel discriminated against.

The present parliament dominated by religious conservatives voted last week to make it easier for a women to seek divorce but the conditions attached still make it difficult for many women to do so.

Grounds for divorce by a woman include: the husband's leaving the family for more than six months, his addiction to drugs, refusal to support the family, impotence or sterility, mistreating his wife or favouring other wives.

Jelodarzadeh said she was preparing a bill to stop parents forcing their daughters to get married at an early age. Women were entitled to greater financial support from the state, she added.

"Women are being discriminated against and making the least use of public resources. They are entitled to a bigger chunk of state budget," she said.

Jelodarzadeh also called for more women's support groups to help women "victimised by their families or society."


Iran parliament votes to ease labour law

TEHRAN, Feb 9 (Reuters) -Iran's parliament approved a bill on Sunday to ease labour laws as part of a drive to encourage investment and end a chronic job shortage.

Of 187 deputies present, 107 voted in favour of the bill exempting firms with up to five employees from labour regulations for five years.

Existing small businesses will not be affected by the bill, which must be approved by the Guardian Council, a clergy-based body which seeks to ensure that parliamentary rulings conform to the constitution and Islamic teachings.

Parliament passed a similar bill last June exempting firms with up to three workers from the labour law but delayed further debate on the issue after strong opposition from state-affiliated labour groups.

Advocates of the bill said they would come back with a more comprehensive plan.

Several MPs representing labour interests again put up strong opposition to the new bill on Sunday.

"This law will not help create new jobs. It will even jeopardise the existing ones," said Soheila Jelodarzadeh, a reformist MP who was re-elected to parliament in February 18 elections.

"Scrapping the labour law will make it easy to fire workers and pay them as little money as possible. This is exploitation," she said during the debate broadcast live on state radio.

Conservative deputies, many of whom advocate a free market economy, were behind the bill, hoping to encourage investment and improve the chronic unemployment problem. The labour law, introduced after the 1979 Islamic revolution to help the economic underclass, makes it almost impossible to fire workers and imposes employee benefits.

Many businesses, especially in the state sector, have gone bankrupt or operate far below capacity, a trend which has provoked widespread labour unrest.

But the laws have been challenged in the past decade as the country tries to liberalise the economy.


Clerical Error

The New York Times By SUSAN SACHS

Iran´s Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

February 27, 2000

TEHRAN, Iran -- The best-selling books here these days are all by jailbirds. Among the hottest are the bound transcripts of defense arguments from the trials of an iconoclast Muslim cleric, Abdullah Nouri, and the activist former mayor of Tehran, Gholamhossein Karbaschi. Even the essays of the journalist and erstwhile hostage-taker Abbas Abdi -- the same ones that landed him in prison when he published them in his magazine last year -- have been reprinted in paperback and fly off the shelves of Tehran's busy book shops.

The reactionary mullahs who arrested these new darlings of the publishing world must rue the day they decided to muzzle their critics with a few political show trials. The liberalization of society they so feared had already advanced too far. Persecution only made the reformers louder and more popular.

United by little more than antagonism toward the insular clerics, the self-styled reformers have now gained strength following their victory in the first round of parliamentary elections on Feb. 18. Their movement is partly a backlash against a clerical cartel that has ruled the country, in one form or another, since the 1979 Islamic revolution. During that time, this cartel has moved to stifle change through arrests and violence.

"This is a victory for progressives, but they are progressives in the Iranian context," said a veteran Middle-Eastern diplomat in Tehran last week. "They come from within the system and although they have adopted nationalist slogans, they are fighting the old fight of who is the most pure revolutionary and the most Islamic of the clerics."

By expanding into all levels of society, the hard-line guardians of the old theocratic order may have planted the seeds of their own election defeat. They have not only drawn political fire from the larger society for their actions -- and inaction -- on social issues; they have also created a competition among themselves. They have turned from passive religious guardians before the revolution to activists jealous of each other's grip on power. And by making loyalty to the revolution a litmus test, they have also invited scrutiny of their own ideals and interpretations of what the revolution promised.

In effect, the revolution that gave the clerics power created a new class of politicians. This class includes not only the traditional clerical elite, but also opponents of absolute clerical rule.

Most of the clerics come from Islamic centers like Qum, the most prominent city for theological study in Iran. Qum produced Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the revolution, and the moderate cleric, Mohammad Khatami, the country's president and the icon of the democratic movement. The Qum system elevates some clerics over others by conferring various ranks including the highest, grand ayatollah. Each scholar elevated by his peers becomes an autonomous force, with his own students and followers taken with his particular interpretation of Islamic law.

But Qum's schools no longer graduate only theoreticians of Islamic jurisprudence, as they did for centuries when religion was the property of mullahs and government the purview of kings. Nor do they mainly produce revolutionaries, as they did in the waning years of the shah. Now the schools also teach computers, accounting, business management and political science. Since they have created positions for themselves in the regime, they also produce Iran's bureaucrats, politicians and critics.

The current calls for change are coming as much from Qum and other theological centers as they are from the non-clerical public. To a large degree, the outcome that some ayatollahs feared after the revolution -- that political involvement would tarnish the prestige of religious leaders -- has come to pass. In the parliamentary elections, not one cleric was elected to any of the three Qum seats. All the winners are technocrats or university professors.

The competition among politicized clerics has inevitably produced a power struggle between insiders and outsiders. Nouri, the jailed cleric who was convicted of apostasy for questioning the political status quo, was very much on the inside for much of his career. He was interior minister in the government of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and previously Khomeini's representative in the powerful Revolutionary Guards. His anti-establishment credentials solidified relatively recently, after parliamentary conservatives forced him out of Rafsanjani's cabinet.

The voices for change in Iran are also coming from those who were active in the revolution and after but, like Nouri, have spent the last few years as outcasts. Abdi, one of the intellectuals of the movement, was a leader of the students who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.

With Rafsanjani's presidency, Abdi was put aside to placate the increasingly threatened conservatives. Khatami himself resigned under pressure in 1992 after serving as one of the country's most liberal-minded culture ministers.

Now the revolution's outcasts are back and those who slighted them are in their sights.

Many of the reformers sharply criticize Rafsanjani as a betrayer of the revolution who caved in to the conservatives on cultural, political and economic issues. Yet it was Rafsanjani who first tried to face down the hard-liners, hiring Khatami to run the state propaganda machine and oversee culture at a time when Iran was rebuilding after its devastating war with Iraq. Although he later backed down, Rafsanjani's legacy is the flowering of free expression seen in Tehran's book shops today.

Khatami, who speaks engagingly of civil liberties and a dialogue of civilizations, was swept into office in 1997 because he engaged the pent-up energies of masses of young people and women. The loose coalition of ex-revolutionaries, political exiles and religious nationalists who ran for the parliament under the Khatami banner this month appealed to a public that has no memory of the revolution but has tired of enduring ideological battles. As many Iranians said in conversations before and after the elections, ordinary people want a normal life that includes religion and politics, but is not ruled by either.


More pragmatic... but still Iran

The Jerusalem Post By Douglas Davis

February 27

The electoral success of the moderates shows that the Iranian people want change, but the Islamic Revolution is far from dead --

The success of the "moderates" in last weekend's Iranian parliamentary elections, we are told, presages a kinder, gentler Iran.

Some analysts say the elections represent an important step on the path to change in Teheran, a courageous reversal by Iranians who, just 21 years ago, upset the established geopolitical order and sent an icy chill down the collective regional spine with their call for Islamic revolution.

A predictable stream of academic papers will inevitably assess the consequences of the latest twist in Iranian public affairs, but as far as Israel is concerned the apparent change of mood, if not of direction, can be distilled into five urgent questions.

Will the immediate consequences of the reforming, pragmatic parliamentary majority in Iran affect:

* Its alliance with Syria? * Its sponsorship of terrorism? * Its nonconventional weapons program? * Its opposition to the peace process? * Its call for Israel's destruction?

Whatever signs and wonders the academics use to divine their long-term prognoses for post-election Iran, say the analysts, the answer to each of the above in the short term is a simple, unequivocal "no." That does not negate the value of long-term evaluations. However, Israel does not have the luxury of a long-term view where Iran is concerned.

Israeli soldiers are in conflict with Hizbullah fighters who are funded, armed, and trained by Iran, via Syria.

Israeli civilians are being warned of possible attacks by Iranian-inspired Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombers.

Israeli strategists are pondering a response to a possible Iranian nuclear threat within a couple of years. Some suggest Iran already has nuclear capabilities.

Israeli politicians are engaged in negotiations with Syria and the Palestinians, which could be significantly influenced by the disposition of the regime in Teheran.

ANALYSTS SAY what can be deduced with a fair degree of certainty is that the election results do not represent an overwhelming grass-roots clamor for Iran to reverse its implacable opposition to the peace process, to reconsider its obdurate rejection of Israel, to cease its aid for terrorist organizations, or to halt its nuclear-weapons program.

Rather, the landslide of the "moderates" is a reflection of mass discontent with the failure of Iran's "conservative" elite to deliver on a range of domestic issues, primarily in the economic, social, and educational spheres.

Last weekend's vote cannot - not yet, at least - be counted as a vote against the Islamic revolution.

Control of the parliament might pass into the hands of those who align themselves with the pragmatic President Mohammad Khatami, say the analysts, but elements who support the strictly orthodox spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are not about to pack up their tents and relinquish their overarching power.

The "hard-liners" will let Khatami tinker with domestic policy - give young people a voice, relax some of the strictures on women, liberalize the economy, attract foreign investment, create employment - but Khamenei and his followers will remain the loyal heirs and faithful guardians of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's sacred revolution.

The question for Iran watchers is whether Khatami - moderate and pragmatic, but also a fervent adherent to Islamic revolution ideology - will be a Gorbachev or a Dubcek. Whether he will be a reformer whose perestroika, wittingly or not, carries the seeds of ideological destruction, or the "velvet" revolutionary whose spring ends, like that of the late Czech leader, in tanks and tears.

IT IS not hard to see why Khatami, who is fluent in English, German, and Arabic (as well, of course, as Farsi) has so charmed his Western interlocutors and why they have invested so much hope in his leadership.

By contrast with the joyless, forbidding phalanx of predecessors who have paraded across the international stage, the Internet-literate Khatami is, by all accounts, a warm, witty, soft-spoken interlocutor who enjoys playing table-tennis and swimming when he is not scaling the intellectual peaks.

It is said that women find him attractive and Khatami, for his part, professes a particular interest in their role within Iranian society.

Asked once who had the final say in his own home, Khatami replied without hesitation, "I do. My wife tells me what she wants and I say, 'OK.' "

But he is more than a mere turbaned teddy bear. His credentials as a revolutionary and his fidelity to the cause of the Islamic state have never been in doubt - except, perhaps, among European leaders who seem convinced that he is itching to transform Islamic Iran into a liberal, secular idyll.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, apparently forgetting that British author Salman Rushdie remains under threat of death from an Iranian fatwa, was quick to declare that his decision to resume ties with Iran had been vindicated and proclaimed the election result "a clear signal of the Iranian people's interest in modernization and welcome confirmation that our policy of dialogue with Iran is correct."

HOJJATOLESLAM Sayed Mohammad Khatami was born in the village of Ardakan 57 years ago, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed and son of an affluent, respected ayatollah.

He studied first at a theological college in the holy city of Qom before moving to Teheran University and then to Isfahan University, where he received a master's degree in philosophy.

In Isfahan Khatami became convinced that Western notions of freedom and civic responsibility could cohabit comfortably with Islam. It was there, too, that he became a follower of Khomeini.

As a student in pre-revolutionary Iran, Khatami was in the vanguard of opposition to the shah, working closely with Hojjatoleslam Khomeini, late son of the revolution's defining icon, to organize religious and political debates.

Khatami fulfilled his two-year compulsory military service as a lieutenant in the shah's army - which he insists was not an expression of support but simply part of his education - and served briefly as head of the Islamic Center in Hamburg, Germany.

But he returned to Iran when the 1979 upheavals swept the shah from power and carried Khomeini to Teheran on a triumphal wave from his exile in France.

A loyal son of the revolution, Khatami won a seat in the Majlis (parliament) in 1980 and, soon after, he was appointed minister of culture and Islamic guidance. In addition, he headed Iran's joint military command during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq and also served as chairman of the war propaganda headquarters.

The 1980s were productive for Khatami in other ways too. Most notably, and perhaps most unusually, he wrote two books.

The first, Fear of the Wave, made the case for Islam's superiority to Western models of government, while conceding that the West's concept of freedom was the essential precursor to economic, political, military, and scientific power.

The second, From the World of the City to the City of the World, offered a broad sweep of Western philosophy, focusing on Plato and Aristotle: "No intellectual who studies philosophy and politics can deprive himself of these two sources."

If that sounds like a recipe for counterrevolution, it is not what Khatami or his followers in the Majlis are aiming to achieve, say the analysts, for while the new parliament contains a large majority of reformers, they are not seeking to undo Islamic Iran.

In the weeks leading up to the election, all prospective candidates were meticulously screened by the mullah's Council of Guardians - comprised of six clerics and six jurists - to test their Islamic credentials. Hundreds, mostly from the reformist wing, were weeded out.

The analysts note that this rigorous pre-selection process ensured that those who were considered to be soft on the fundamentals - Islamic fundamentals - were stealthily removed from contention and that the eventual winners, however reform-minded, were committed to the principles on which Ruhollah Khomeini established his revolution.

KHATAMI'S power base consists of an eclectic mix of women and young people who believe he holds the key to a better, not necessarily unIslamic, future. It also comprises a clutch of aging former radicals, including many who instigated the 1979 seizure of the US embassy and who now seek to re-energize, revitalize, and regenerate the revolution.

The challenges facing Khatami and his supporters is daunting: Iran's per-capita income is put at $5,500, while inflation is running at 30 percent and unemployment at 20%. Analysts hasten to warn that these figures are likely to err on the side of "excessive optimism."

Moreover, with over half of the 70-million-strong population under age 21, Khatami must somehow find a way of conjuring no fewer than one million new jobs a year just to keep pace with the tide of young people entering the job market.

For Iran's reforming president, say the analysts, salvation lies in unleashing the economic potential of his oil-rich state by reconciling the apparently irreconcilable: harnessing Western-style freedoms to religious ideology and coupling good governance to revolutionary Islam.

His reforms, they note, will involve relaxing domestic constraints, liberalizing the economy, engineering a separation of powers, creating access for ordinary Iranians to technology and global sources of information, and opening up further to the West - most controversially, to the United States.

That is a tall order.

Despite Khatami's success at the ballot box, his ability to deliver is limited. Victory has given him huge moral authority, but not supreme power.

The harsh reality of Iranian political life is that parliament's power is severely circumscribed by a constitution which vests ultimate authority in all matters that are considered to be of vital national interest in the hands of the spiritual leader.

Thus, it is Ali Khamenei who heads the army, the security services, and the judiciary. It is Khameini who is the ultimate arbiter of the media. And it is Khamenei who has the final word on all important internal and international affairs. No significant departure can be made without his consent.

So while the reformers have won a famous victory, the election has done little more than measure the national mood and strengthen the hand of the victors. Whether that strength can be translated into political power is largely the prerogative of Ali Khamenei.

IF AN important key to success for the reformers is the relationship between Khatami and Khamenei, there is scope for optimism.

The two men have known each other since they were teenagers, when Khamenei was a disciple of Khatami's father.

Today, the supreme leader and president are said to have a close personal and working relationship. Not only do they consult regularly, but the Khatamis and Khameinis regularly take vacations together.

The differences between them, according to the analysts, are of means rather than ends, of nuance rather than substance, of tactics rather than strategy.

Outgoing conservative parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Bahonar summed it up when he told the Iranian daily Vij last week, "We will not change our principles and positions, but it is natural that we should reconsider our policies and methods."

The analysts note that if Khatami is to achieve any tangible progress - in terms of attracting foreign investment, reviving Iran's crucial energy sector, rescheduling debts, reducing inflation, and creating employment - he must find a way for Iran to join the global economy. And fast.

The essential precondition for achieving that goal, they add, is restoring relations with Washington.

"ULTIMATELY," one analyst told me, "the debate will focus on the sensitive subject of Iran's future relations with the United States - the Great Satan to Khamenei, the Great Salvation to Khatami."

Iran desperately needs huge infusions of foreign investments to resuscitate its ailing gas and oil fields, which account for more than two-thirds of its hard-currency earnings, if it is to break out of its economic isolation and provide the platform for Khatami to fulfill the expectations of his followers.

But it is precisely investment in this sector on which the US has imposed an international ban, backed by the threat of significant sanctions.

In a different atmosphere, say the analysts, Washington could not only remove this bar on investment, but also help accelerate Iran's efforts to make up for two decades of introversion by facilitating international trade, lines of credit, infrastructure development, and technological progress.

But analysts believe the conservatives will perceive Khatami's proposed reforms as fraught with danger, threatening to upset the delicate balance between maintaining the Islamic revolution and liberalizing the society, which the president regards as not only desirable but absolutely necessary for revitalizing his country and resolving its most pressing problems.

Whether the mullahs agree to loosen their grip is likely to be contingent on the political terms that Washington can be expected to impose in exchange for a rapprochement: an end to Iran's ties with international terrorism; acquiescence in, if not actually support for, the peace process, and, possibly an end to threats against Israel.

No one knows quite where Khatami stands on these critical regional issues or whether he would consider acquiescence as a price worth paying, say the analysts. Ultimately, they believe, the decisions will be dictated by expedience rather than principle.

EITHER way, it will involve a huge gamble.

There are indeed dangers to the Islamic revolution whichever path the Iranian regime decides to follow.

According to the analysts, the choice is stark: If the mullahs reject the reforms, the Iranian street which once erupted against the shah could turn on them. If they accede, they will necessarily dilute their own power and influence over the future course of the Islamic revolution.

What can be said with a relative degree of certainty, according to the analysts, is that public expectations in the Iranian president are sky-high. Decisions that are made in the coming months are likely to be fateful for the entire Iranian establishment, moderates and conservatives.

Both sides will be united in praying that the revolution of rising expectations does not swamp the revolution wrought by Ayatollah Khomeini.

In an interview with a Western correspondent recently, Khatami had a message for humanity: "We say we love all the people in the world and we want them to love us in return. Resentments should be turned into kindness and love."

That message will understandably ring hollow in Israel today. For quite different reasons, it could have devastating reverberations among disillusioned millions on the Iranian street in the foreseeable future.


Rooz Khosh..! Good Day..!

Don't forget that any protest against the Death sentences might save the Students...

They need your help.......

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World Headlines


Decriminalising Same-Sex Relationships: UN Rights Chief Applauds Indian Decision

“This is a great day for India and for all those who believe in the universality of human rights," Bachelet said. "With this landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a big step forward for freedom and equality...” More>>


Myanmar: UN Chief Rohingya Refugee Crisis Enters Second Year

Over 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to ramshackle refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area, Bangladesh after being forced from their homes by a military operation which UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein compared, at the time, to ethnic cleansing. More>>


Scott Morrison In Hot Seat: NZ Congratulates Current Australian PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today congratulated Scott Morrison on winning the leadership of the Australian Liberal Party and has acknowledged outgoing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. More>>


Swing States: Gordon Campbell On Why The US Needs MMP

After the bizarre events this week in Helsinki, the world will be hoping and praying that the US midterm elections in November can put a restraining brake on the presidency of Donald Trump. This may happen, but there’s a highly undemocratic reason why such hopes may be frustrated. More>>