July 5, 2018


Assad critic seizes chairmanship of key Iran parliament commission (Ehsan Bodaghi July 4, 2018, Al Monitor)

After 14 years, the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy commission has a new chairman. Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh will replace Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who has headed the commission since 2005. Although both men are conservatives, they differ greatly in the policies they have adopted in the past. They also diverge in terms of the support they have derived from parliamentary factions. As such, the leadership shift is viewed by observers as much more than simply a game of musical chairs. Indeed, a commission headed by Falahatpisheh will likely experience very different days ahead. [...]

But more than anything, the difference between Boroujerdi and Falahatpisheh can be seen in how they coordinate their policies based on the viewpoints of Iran's leadership, and particularly how their stances on two key foreign policy issues are completely opposite (one being Syria and Iraq, and the other Iran's relations with Russia). Boroujerdi is among the Iranian politicians who are close allies to movements in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. In recent years, he has traveled to these countries on several occasions and has expressed strong support for President Bashar al-Assad during visits to Syria.

Conversely, Falahatpisheh is perhaps among one of the first officials within the Iranian political establishment who has strongly criticized Assad's policies. Referring to a call by the Syrian president for regional states not to turn Syria into a theater for their own conflicts in the aftermath of a series of Israeli airstrikes, Falahatpisheh retorted on May 12, "Bashar al-Assad's passive stance comes as Iranian youths have been losing their lives while defending the territorial integrity of Syria for the past six years. It was after these measures that Russia began its support, and after the conditions for stabilizing the Syrian government, that Bashar al-Assad's international equations moved forward."

Their views on Russia also differ. While Boroujerdi is among those within the political establishment who believe that Iran should strengthen its tilt toward Russia and China, Falahatpisheh has a completely different view. In August 2016, when Iran allowed Russia to use an air base in the northwestern Iranian city of Hamadan for operations in Syria, he was the only person who criticized the move, calling it "against the constitution." Moreover, in June, he said, "Iranians have repeatedly been a plaything in Russia's [self]-interest seeking policies."

As such, the evident differences in the political positioning of these two men can only guarantee one thing: Looking ahead, the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy commission is about to be reshaped.

Posted by at July 5, 2018 4:14 AM