September 4, 2007


Taking a bite out of Iran (MICHAEL THEODOULOU, 9/05/07, The Scotsman)

His success in the assembly marks another defeat for hardliners allied to Mr Ahmadinejad. The vote in the 86-member Assembly of Experts comes during a vital period ahead of the parliamentary elections in March 2008.

The assembly keeps largely out of day-to-day politics, but moderates feared that if the top job had gone to a pro-Ahmadinejad hardliner, the body could have been made more active in shaping state policy and reducing the people's influence in government.

In securing the top spot, Mr Rafsanjani beat off two clerical rivals close to Mr Ahmadinejad: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati and Ayatollah Ali Mesbah Yazdi.

Mr Rafsanjani sides with pro-democracy reformers. He secured 41 votes from fellow Assembly members while Ayatollah Jannati, the head of a powerful conservative constitutional watchdog committee that vets election candidates, polled 34. Ayatollah Yazdi, Mr Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor, came a lowly third.

"Mr Rafsanjani's election is yet another no to the fossilised extremists such as Jannati and Mesbah Yazdi. Given differences between Mr Rafsanjani and Khamenei, the election of Mr Rafsanjani is seen as a challenge to the supreme leader," said a political analyst, Hamid Reza Shokouhi.

Saeed Leilaz, another prominent political analyst, said: "The outside world must know that Rafsanjani's election today is an important development in Iran.

"There is now a strong consensus on Rafsanjani among the educated elite and the technocrats, the traditional right and the clerics. This gives him great leverage to play a more important role in Iranian politics."

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 4, 2007 7:28 PM

Rafsanjani was President for 8 years. No reform there.

He is an alternative, not a difference. He was Khomeini's political man at one time.

They will have to do better than scotch and jazz. We shouldn't settle for anything less than beer and wings.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 4, 2007 10:25 PM

Yes, he's always someone else's man. Now he's Khamenei's and the Ayatollah wants reform in order to save the Republic. They didn't realize they needed it twenty years ago. It took the Democrats sixty to figure out the same thing.

Posted by: oj at September 5, 2007 7:38 AM