October 27, 2005


Iran on course for a showdown (Safa Haeri, 10/28/05, Asia Times)

Ahmadinejad's outburst...signifies deep rifts within the country between his administration and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his small clique that ultimately controls the levers of power. [...]

"The danger of such a radical statesman [Ahmadinejad] is that by knotting religious beliefs with the nuclear issue, it makes for an explosive issue that will explode in the face of all Iranians," an Iranian analyst told Asia Times Online, adding that Ahmadinejad's statement would certainly strengthen the international consensus against Iran.

"It is exactly for this reason that Khamenei, realizing his mistake in promoting Ahmadinejad, placed the pragmatic and experienced Hashemi Rafsanjani above him in order to repair the damage the new, inexperienced but zealot Muslim might cause to the regime," the analyst said.

The analyst was referring to the recent decision by Khamenei to transfer some of his immense and unlimited power to the Assembly of Discerning the Interests of the State (ADIS, or Expediency Council), which is headed by Rafsanjani.

According to a new regulation, the ADIS will have the power to supervise the regime's macro-policies and long-term plans and projects, a power that had belonged to the Supreme Leader. This means that all the theocratic regime's three powers - legislative, judicial and executive - must submit their planning and policies to the 32-member, leader-controlled ADIS for approval before implementation.

Until this change, ADIS's main role was to mediate between the Council of the Guardians (CG) and the majlis, or parliament, as the 12-member, leader-controlled CG is in charge of both vetting all candidates in all elections and making sure that laws passed by the majlis are in conformity with Sharia law.

The increased powers given to ADIS were interpreted as a clear warning to Ahmadinejad and the Revolutionary Guards who provided him with millions of votes, against trying to wrest any powers from the clerical establishment.

The warning appears to have fallen on deaf ears...

Mr. Khamenei is hardly the first Supreme Leader to completely misunderstand how hard it would be to meld authoritarianism and democracy. He's been off his game since the Reformists boycott sunk Moin.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 27, 2005 6:16 AM
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