July 14, 2014
ANDROPOV COULDN'T SAVE THE REGIME EITHER:
Iran reformist leader's hopes depend on nuclear talks in Vienna (Saeed Kamali 7/13/14, The Guardian)
Posted by Orrin Judd at July 14, 2014 3:40 PMIn Tehran, the ultimate decision-maker is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, who despite being unelected and a top religious authority, can change the fate of the ongoing talks overnight against Rouhani's wishes.For now, the cleric appears to be backing Rouhani's negotiating team, which is led by the country's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.The US-educated veteran diplomat has described himself as a follower of Khamenei, but is also a confident of Rouhani and remains popular with the general public.In the light of Khamenei's support, opponents of the deal have kept quiet. Among them is Saeed Jalili, Iran's former leading nuclear negotiator, who failed to bring a solution even an inch closer. Jalili and his allies can barely conceal their resentment at Rouhani's "constructive engagement" with the west.A year after assuming power, Rouhani has had some remarkable achievements, not least putting an end to eight years of political infighting under his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.He also became the first Iranian leader to hold direct talks with a US leader, in a historic telephone call with Obama last year.But international sanctions against Iran are still in place, almost intact in spite of an interim deal, and although Rouhani has curbed inflation, reduced the mismanagement of the Ahmadinejad era and inspired some hope among the public, he has plenty to do.Rouhani's big challenge, besides securing a nuclear deal and ending sanctions, is an Iranian version of glasnost: increasing social freedoms and releasing imprisoned dissidents, activists and journalists. Failure to reach a nuclear deal would make reform at home difficult, if not impossible.