September 4, 2007


Iranian clerics elect Rafsanjani to key role (Roxanne Escobales, September 4, 2007, Guardian Unlimited)

"This is exactly what the hardliners don't want," said Dr Ali Ansari, an Iran-watcher at Chatham House and a professor of Iranian history at the University of St Andrews. "It's a body blow for Ahmadinejad."

Dr Ansari said Mr Rafsanjani was known for his willingness to enter into diplomatic discussions to settle international disputes pragmatically.

In the early 1980s, when the US and Iran broke off diplomatic relations with each other, Mr Rafsanjani advocated dropping from use the phrase "Death to America", to the vocal displeasure of fundamentalists.

"He is much more of an internationalist than Ahmadinejad," said Dr Ansari.

Another difference between the men is their economic policies: while Mr Rafsanjani favours free-market liberalism, Mr Ahmadinejad pursues a strongly interventionist line.

Having badly mismanaged the attempt to install Rafsanjani as president last time around, Ayatollah Khamenei has done a better job since of using him to ride herd on Ahmedinejad.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 4, 2007 9:03 AM
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