Goodbye Mr. Khatami



Well, Khatami withdrew finally. There was speculation as soon as Mousavi decided to enter the race. Back before Khatami decided to run back in February, he had put out several statements waiting for Mousavi to decide if he would run or not, but Mousavi couldn’t decide so Khatami decided to throw his hat into the ring. Last week, when Mousavi finally threw in, Khatami, who seemed to not really want to run anyway, was thrown off and speculation of his withdrawal spread.

Khatami is very patriotic, and believes deeply in the Revolution. But he also believes strongly in furthering the Revolution and its success through reform, especially in the international realm. He knows that several popular candidates in the Reformist camp will only cause division and strengthen the Principal-ists bid for reelection (whether it’s Ahmadinejad or not).

But his weight will have effect. He has more supporters on the Left then any other reformist in Iran. Whomever he backs his supporters will follow. If the reformists can unite their strength will be a force against the Principal-ists.

Right now there is still indecision and infighting within the Principal-ist camp. Ex-IRGC chief Reza’i wants a coalition government, Majlis member Ali Motahari stresses that “Ahmadinejad will be an independent candidate, just as he was in the previous elections. He ran as an independent and was not backed by the Principal-ist camp,” and Ahmadinejad is currently traveling around the country in full campaign mode. This division has obvious implications for their successful opposition to the Reformists during the election, especially if the Reformists are united.

One could speculate that maybe Khatami did not actually get Khamenei’s blessing to run back in Feb when they met, but decided to anyway since no strong Reformist candidate had presented himself yet. And with Mousavi now present, maybe he knows that Mousavi will pass the Guardian Council vetting in May easier than he, and now he can be a strong support mechanism for Reformist success: gathering more political momentum, then swinging it behind the best fit candidate.

What is for sure is that things are still so fluid in this election process that anyone who prognosticates is cutting the Iranian public and the Islamic Republic short. With the Reformist camp seemingly more cohesive at this moment, it is time to watch the Principal-ists.

But maybe the Reformists do have some more tricks up their sleaves. Maybe Khatami will reenter who the hell knows: “A leading Iranian Reformist party’s has refused to accept Mohammad Khatami’s withdrawal from the presidential race, insisting on his return. “The clear majority of the Majme’e Rowhaniyoune-e Mobarez (the Combatant Clergy Association) called for Khatami’s return to the presidential race,” a website close to the well-known reformist politician reported on Tuesday.

It’s a pretty exciting election to watch actually, with possible major implications for US foreign policy. With apparent plans to hope for a Khatami win, waiting for serious dialogue until after the election, I am sure the Obama Administration is wondering ‘What now?’.


~ by The Common Man on March 18, 2009.

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