Rafsanjani’s Only Option

So most people think there are 4 options to what will happen in the end:

1) The regime falls to a revolution

2) The protester’s hopes of any change are smashed, and the true hijack sustains

3) Rafsanjani concedes to the new status quo to save his hide

4) Rafsanjani’s “behind the curtain” (posht-e padeh) maneuvers develop a sustainable compromise between center-right/reformist left governance and the neofundamental right, that has so obviously hijacked the IRI.

Iran is not a country to bet on, that’s for sure. In fact, it is easy to depend on precedent, even though the regime surprises you each time. For instance, so many of us thought that the wave of support from Mousavi could actually result in a turnover in the republican institution the IRI’s constitution refers to as the ‘president’. But this election showed us that we fell for the hype. We took the precedence of 2 khordad (the landslide victory of Khatami in ’97) and assume that it could happen again with a wave of popular support similar, and a 70%+ voter turnout.rafsanjani

But we ignored all the signs, especially all the ones I mentioned in my last post, and many have mentioned before me. We failed to see that this all-out offensive from the neofundamentalists, starting back in Khatami’s first term, began with the elimination of liberal Khatami supporter, Tehrani mayor Karbaschi. Since then concessions from the intense hardliners have been minuscule at best, and the onslaughts have been vigorous.

But I am prepared now… prepared to be cynical.

Only one person is preventing me from doing this: Rafsanjani. His actions and redirectioning of the Islamic Republic post-Khomeini is what opened up the path to Khatami, and expectations of civil society today.

Without his balancing, and concessions to the liberal left, rationalized power would not have taken place so successfully within the establishment.

And his silence, and absence at Friday prayer when Khamenei spoke (completely rare in and of itself) keeps us all on the edge of our seats.

Therefore, if I had to bet, I DO NOT believe that Rafsanjani will fold and side 100% with Khamenei. This new neofundamentalist revolution, so evident in the egregious disregard of the republican laws set forth in the IRI’s constitution, completely sidelines the pragmatists, especially Rafsanjani.

Rafsanjani is known to save his hide and follow which way the wind blows. During his presidency he was known as one who steers between the left and the right smoothly in order to appease enough people to maintain his credibility and stature.

But this is not the same AT ALL. If he rolls over to the neofundamentalists it would be a complete acceptance of the new direction of the IRI, a direction which represents the antithesis of what Rafsanjani has dedicated about 20 years of his political life transforming.

It would represent a capitulation to the man whom Rafsanjani has spent more political capital to try and break: Ahmadinejad.

It would destroy a political career that the man has spent 30-40 years developing. He will not mollify his stature for the easy excuse of “saving the Revolution”, but will instead expend all of the political capital he’s got the try and ‘save’ the path he has always believed the IRI needs to go in.

Whether his motivation is a means-end gamble to save his clout or not, he is absolutely invested in preserving his influence.

He has spoken before of the desire for a shura council rather than one supreme jurist. He sides with the movement he set the kindling for way back during his presidency.

Can he convince a majority of the Assembly of Experts to determine Khamenei is unfit for duty, then get them to agree on a shura council, then get the people (including himself) elected that he wants in power? This would be a gigantic undertaking.

But can he convince clerical elites, even opposition celebrities like Ayatollah Montazeri who hates Rafsanjani because of old time squabbles, to begin a theological opposition movement? Maybe…

It may expend any and all political capital he has left, but if he does it, the regime will survive sans a monopoly of neofundamentalist power. This is something that apparently civil society demands, and pragmatic elites covet.

Therefore I would bet on option #4 above. The others have there merit in certain instances, and I could probably argue convincingly that either of them could happen. But I think Rafsanjani has the political capital to make something work, whether it’s some kind of compromise that involves Mousavi himself I can’t guess, but a compromise that satisfies the old elites is certainly in the works.

But I wish I had real answers here, but like all of you, I only get to pine about it in my head and wait… Sitting on my hands…

PS. R.I.P. ندا Neda Soltani


~ by The Common Man on June 24, 2009.

One Response to “Rafsanjani’s Only Option”

  1. […] of the Islamic Revolution is exactly what Khamenei is aiming for I suspect this will be impossible. This excellent blog which is written from a position much more knowledgable persuasively argues – with plenty of […]

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