August 15, 2005


All the president's men (Safa Haeri, 8/16/05, Asia Times)

Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has presented the conservatives-controlled majlis (parliament) a 21-member cabinet in which all key posts are in the hands of middle-ranked, moderate conservatives.

Breaking with the practice of the past decades, in which all incoming presidents simply took on incumbents and rotated only posts, the new president has brought in new faces. The common denominator of the new cabinet is that most of the members have intelligence and military records, and can be considered as "sons" of Iran's top guide, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, meaning that they are faithful Muslims but not ultra-radicals, as an Iranian political analyst told The Asia Times Online.

"The bad news is that most of the new ministers are former sepahi [Revolutionary Guards] or Basiji [volunteer militias] of etela'ati [intelligence and security]. The good news is that unlike the so-called reformists, who were not much different from the conservatives but had put on a reform-seeking hood in order to have a share in the cake, the new ministers have no mask; they are what they are and represent the true image of the regime," commented Amir Abbas Fakhravar, an outspoken activist student in Tehran. [...]

Fakhravar does not believe that the new government will crack down on what social and cultural gains Iranians made under the moderate Khatami. "Iranian society is not that of the first years of the Islamic revolution [1970]. Iranian society has changed and will stand up to any limitations of its gains, and international conditions are also different," he stressed. He added that the "homogenization" of governance under the leadership of the conservatives would also improve unity between the different factions of the home-grown opposition.

The demand for improved living standards--like those they can see in the West--and the impossibility of delivering them under a totalitarian regime, will be the most important moderating influence.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 15, 2005 6:53 AM

"middle-ranked, moderate conservatives"

And you believed them. There is no such thing as a moderate conservative in Iran. There are regime adherents and regime opponents. The rulling circle has installed their government. Nothing will change because of it.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at August 15, 2005 3:17 PM