December 22, 2013
THE WESTERNIZERS VS THE HARD-LINERS:
Ruffled feathers (S.R., 12/17/13, The Economist)
Posted by Orrin Judd at December 22, 2013 9:40 AMThe criticism did not end there. Mr Jafari criticised some of the Rohani Government's "methods" for being similar to those of the previous administration under the now widely-ostracised Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The current government has become "polluted with Western doctrines and a fundamental change must be made," Mr Jafari said. Meanwhile, 53 members (out of 290) of Iran's parliament have summoned Mr Zarif to explain his comments.While some conservative groups in Iran have been wary of the new government from its first days in office, Mr Rohani has enjoyed backing from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to engage in nuclear talks. He and Mr Zarif also went to great pains to secure the approval of powerful conservative clerics. As a result, Mr Rohani can boast unprecedented progress on the nuclear file, but the reproach from Mr Jafari is a reminder that not everyone is equally impressed. "As soon as Rohani begins to rear his head and try something new, we see this pressure from the conservative wings," says Alex Vatanka, an Iran expert at the Middle East Institute in WashingtonDC. "The reason is that reforms mean less power for people like Jafari."Indeed, Mr Rohani seems keen to curb the direct influence of the Revolutionary Guard on the government. He appointed only four IRGC veterans to his 18-strong ministerial cabinet. The president also replaced all the governors-general of Iran's 31 provinces, who were chosen by Mr Ahmadinejad. Among Rohani's new appointees, only four are connected to the Guard (that's the point: it is both in the cabinet and in the provinces he is purging the IRGC), while Mr Ahmadinejad had picked 17 provincial representatives from the ranks of the IRGC.