Iranian Presidential Selection ("Election") This Friday
Would Rafsanji Have Made A Difference?
Mr. Rafsanji was the only presidential candidate that could have transformed the ineffectual position of president into a more assertive role. He happens to be one of the richest men in Iran (1) and was Khamenei's king maker (2), not to mention the fact that he is an Ayatollah. There are thousands of political prisoners from all walks of life, but only one Ayatollah, Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi.
Rafsanjani would have been in many ways untouchable and fully capable of staging an internal bloodless coup, hence his disqualification by the guardian council and the supreme leader's behind the scenes opposition to his candidacy.
Manufactured Election Drama
By eliminated the heavyweight candidate, the guardian council has left the Iranian people with a few light weight candidates squabbling to sit at the head of the table, the kiddie table.
The fact remains that the Shah and dictator of Iran is Ayatollah Khamaenei, who will, regardless of which candidate is elected president, have a free hand in dictating the course of actions in foreign policy and all important state matters.
Why is it then that some still get excited about the winner or loser in this predetermined presidential race in Iran?! I would submit that in a state of helplessness even a mirage can constitute a viable hope for the masses. That is why many may feel compelled to participate in this sham election.
Yesterday, one of the two "reformist candidates", Mr. Aref withdraw from the race and endorsed the only remaining reformist candidate, Mr. Rouhani. This was done on the behest of the "reformist" and the charismatic ex-president Khatami.
|Etemaad newspaper: "Reformists select Rohani", note the "green" ribbon changing color to avoid being shut down by the censors!|
Under the best case scenario for the reformists, the IRGC would allow Rohani to be elected president: then what?!
Four more years of Khatami style "reformist" government fighting against the majlis and the dictates of the supreme leader is the best that one can expect. The "would be" reformist president would be lucky to draft a simple budget without interference from everyone under the sun. The president would have no final say over anything, not even on budgetary issues, and would have to contend with secret expenditures, not to mention the IRGC smuggling and tax siphoning. He would likely be spared having to partake in the discussion about the billions of dollar (gazillion rials) spent on Hizbollah and the Syrian civil war; the IRGC and Khamenei can manage without the extra input. He will however have to come up with the best punch lines to explain why his government is not allocating dwindling financial resources for more pressing needs such as medicine or daily staples.
The new president, even if "reformist", would still have no final say on the nuclear issue, or negotiations with the United States, or restoration of diplomatic ties with the USA, Canada, and Britain, etc., or negotiating the lifting of sanctions.
The new president, if reformist, would nonetheless serve at least one purpose: that is to give the regime a lifeline for a few more months/years, as the election of a "reformist" would give the people the illusion of the "change" they seek even when in reality there is none.
What the reformists would consider a positive outcome would simply be an anesthetic that masks the symptoms for four more years, allowing the national cancer to grow unabated.
In their self-interest, the "reformists" and "revolutionaries" should hope for the most conservative candidate to be "selected" to this "garçon" position, aka, Iranian president. In such a scenario, the political fault-lines would be better delineated and the people of Iran would finally face the reality that they can't have "true change" without a "regime change" in Iran.
Photo source: cartoon by Mana Neyestani