May 22, 2017

WHEN THE FACTS ON THE GROUND CHANGE...SHUT YOUR EYES:

The Rouhani Factor (Abbas Milani, MAY 22, 2017, Project Syndicate)

The reformist paradigm, by contrast, advocates a more open society; a government managed by competent technocrats; an end to crony capitalism; a vigorous effort to attract foreign direct investment; less censorship; a more conciliatory relationship with Iran's vast and powerful diaspora; and greater equality for women and marginalized religious and ethnic minorities. They also dismiss the idea of increasing cash subsidies as economically foolhardy and fiscally unaffordable.

Some 40 million of Iran's 55 million eligible voters - nearly 73% - went to the polls, often braving long lines. Twenty-five million of those 40 million (62.5%) voted for the reformist paradigm, delivering a landslide victory to Rouhani.
At the same time, reformist candidates for city councils scored major victories throughout the country. In Tehran, for example, the reformist slate won every seat, ensuring that the current mayor - himself a conservative presidential candidate - will soon be out of a job. Even in Meshed, Raisi's hometown and a bastion of conservative clerical power, a reformist woman candidate won more votes than any male.

And yet, if the past is any indication, Rouhani's decisive victory does not mean the end of conservative power. Khamenei, relying on the Revolutionary Guards, has a disproportionate share of power. In any case, Iran's future trajectory will be determined not only by Rouhani and the conservative camp, but also by regional developments and the policy adopted by US President Donald Trump's administration.

In the 1980s, the US did not formulate its policy toward the Soviet bloc without careful consideration of political developments there. It would be folly for the US to formulate policy on Iran and the Middle East without giving domestic developments there the attention they deserve.

Posted by at May 22, 2017 3:36 PM

  

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