I agree with you. Sadar is stirring up some real trouble in Iraq. BUT, one of the good things is that by watching the followers of each branch you begin to get a clear idea of who is the troublemakers.
Iranian Hardliners More Pragmatists Than Zealots After Election Victory
News Analysis, By Shahla Azizi,
Pacific News Service, Mar 02, 2004
Editor's Note: The recent elections in Iran, where many reformist candidates were barred from taking part, yielded predictable results - low turnout and a hardliner victory. But PNS contributor Shahla Azizi says that hardliner victory will not necessarily spell Iran's further isolation from the West.
BY SHAHLA AZIZI, PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE
TEHRAN, Iran --Iranian reformists, dissidents and many university professors failed to convince Iranians to boycott the recent elections. The reformists, including President Khatami, were once again stymied in their attempt to put Iran on the road to democracy. But now that the dust has settled, it's becoming clearer that while iran lost the opportunity for its own Perestroika, it's not going to fall into the hands of Taliban-like zealots either.
The Guardian Council turned down all attempts by the Majlis (parliament) to reform the electoral process. Small steps have been taken to ease social restrictions, but electoral reform, which would have limited the authority of the un-elected Guardian Council, never materialized. That could have been the death knell of the clerical regime itself, much like Perestroika led to the fall of the Soviet regime.
I went out on Election Day, visiting six polling stations in Tehran, all of which were practically deserted. The doorman at my building told me, "I have never voted, and will not now."
The janitor who cleans our street said, "What difference will it make? I voted once for Khatami and now I regret it."
But other people felt they had to vote. The taxi driver who took me around told me, "They scare people into voting. They have announced a 20 percent pay cut for all government employees who refuse to vote."
A young student ,entering one of the polling stations, looked at me with shame in his eyes and said, "I am in my second year at Sharif University (Iran's MIT). Last week they assembled us and told us that without the vote stamp in our Identity Cards they will not register us for the next term."
In Iran each time you vote the authorities stamp your birth certificate. My mother-in-law urged me to vote because, she argued, without a stamp, I would have a hard time finding work or going after my confiscated property. I told her that if I did, I would be prostituting myself and might as well stand on a street corner like so many other female and male compatriots who sell themselves for money. My own husband cast his ballot, despite my admonitions, because he needs a business license!
So despite a 20-percent unemployment rate, a 25-percent official inflation, a brain drain that has taken all our top students abroad, and an election turnout that even by official estimates was at least 25 percent lower than earlier elections, here in Iran we are celebrating the continuing victory of the Revolution and the defeat of the "Great Satan" -- the United States.
The conservatives claim that the reformists, especially those who called for boycott of elections, are foreign agents guilty of treason.
"Each vote is a bullet in the heart of Bush," was supreme leader Khamenei's way of putting things. He dubbed the elections a "slap in the face of Bush."
Keeping America as public enemy number one is the rhetorical security blanket of this regime, which came to power on the basis of a then-popular, but now staid, rejection of American imperialism.
But it's hard to take these mullahs' rhetoric too seriously.
What does this hard-liner victory mean for the West? Not much will change as far as foreign policy is concerned. Iran will not isolate itself. Iranian hard-liners, headed by the powerful millionaire and head of Expediency Council, Hashemi Rafsanjani, are really just businessmen. They are no Taliban. They want more lucrative contracts like the ones they already have with the Europeans and the Japanese.
The defeat of the reformists will only mean that now the world will deal with those who are really in power. Hard-liners didn't let the U.S. delegation visit earthquake-struck Bam because they didn't want the reformists to take the credit. But now they may slowly take steps towards reconciliation. Two days after the elections, the head of a right-wing party, a relative of Khamenei, claimed that rapprochement with the United States is a possibility.
The most powerful wing of the conservatives is made up of bazaar pragmatists. In fact a few days ago, security forces announced an end to the curfew that had been in place for at least 18 months. Now we Iranians can stay out till three in the morning at restaurants, etc. This was meant as a signal to the largely young and restless public that life is not going to become harder now that the hard-liners have taken the Majlis.
Before the elections one candidate even advocated that men and women walk on separate sides of the street. But the ruling elite knows that the large majority of youth needs breathing space. However they will give only enough space to keep them from revolting and toppling the theocracy. These mullahs are more clever and worldly than Saddam or the Taliban. They have inherited the savvy of the bazaar and the clever reasoning of the mosque.
Shahla Azizi (ShahlaAzizi@yahoo.com
) is a Western-educated Iranian American who lives in Tehran with her two children. Her name has been changed. http://news.pacificnews.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=11201c224ef0ea76b8224c375b2f404a