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Friday, December 14, 2007


Khatami rising

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, December 14, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
Scott MacLeod at TIME's middle-east blog reports on how former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami is upping the ante in critique of current president Ahmadinejad, on both fiscal policy as well as democratic freedom:

Speaking to students at Tehran University on Student Day in Iran, where protesters recently called Ahmadinejad a "dictator," Khatami delivered backhanded criticism on various international and domestic issues, like presidential provocations that have increased international pressure on Iran and the jailing of Iranian students.

Interestingly, Khatami also issued a frontal attack on Ahmadinejad's Robin Hood economic policies, suggesting they were designed to win popularity but in fact were ill-conceived, could wreck the economy and therefore are harmful to the poorer classes Ahmadinejad claims to champion. "It is this kind of 'justice' that which makes the concept null and void of all essence," he said. "It is this 'justice' which squanders the resources of the nation and spreads poverty, the same resources which ought to be used create wealth.

Khatami said political freedom was more important than slogans about economic justice. In that vein, he sharply criticized the Guardian Council, the body that has routinely disqualified Iranian reformists from participating in elections and thereby tilted the outcome in favor of conservatives and hard-liners. "What right do some have to make decisions on behalf of the people and disqualify those trusted by the people on the grounds that their eligibility was not approved by six or 12 individuals?" Khatami asked.

Khatami, it seems, is out to change his reputation in Iran for being a well-meaning politician who lacks political courage. His remarks suggest he will take a leading role in mobilizing reformists against Ahmadinejad and his fellow hard-liners in parliamentary elections scheduled for March.

It's also worth noting that Ahmadinejad is also facing pressure from the right, on his rhetoric against Israel and the West.

The former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezai, and Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf of Tehran, both influential hard-line figures, also expressed concerns over foreign threats this month.

And Hassan Rowhani, a former nuclear negotiator and a close aide to Mr. Rafsanjani, urged the government to distance itself from tension with the West. “We must not give excuse to the enemy and provoke it with unwise statements,” he said, according to newspapers.

All of this serves to underline just how rational the Iranian regime is - in other words, a regime that can be negotiated with, deterred, and given incentives for cooperation.



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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.