Iranian lessons

INTERESTING though limited complexities have emerged from Iran’s parliamentary election where conservatives retained their strong base in Teheran, the key to parliamentary power. Yet there are peculiarities as many that got chosen are not best friends with hard-line President Ahmadinejad, to say the least.

Then there is the surprisingly good showing of the reformists despite a large number barred from the poll to begin with.

The Western Press is somewhat off the mark in claiming that loss of support for the president amounts to increased strengthening of supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who holds the one-man-above-all-else power in any case and continues to be the biggest roadblock to Iranian democracy for onlookers not familiar with Teheran’s religious niceties. The election does mean, however, that despite the broad power construct remaining the same, changes in both foreign and domestic policy are likely.

Conservative opinion would no doubt expect increased toughness in external policy, particularly on the nuclear issue. However, rising figures like former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani who do not exactly find favour with the president would have noted the muted rise of the reform group despite untiring state efforts to sideline them. So a softening of tone might well be on the agenda as the former negotiator eyes the president’s seat in next year’s election.

The West, which greeted the election with expected disdain, is also advised to take serious note of emerging trends. Rather than continuing with its finance chokehold on Iran that hurts the working middle class, it should prompt a serious policy revision lest it continues to harm the very elements of change it should bank on instead. As for President Ahmadinejad, the election should provide important food for thought as two groups that don’t appear as his favourites have made advances, implying local policies might need revision just as much as the foreign agenda.

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