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Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 03/ 9/2011

Rafsanjani leaves

By Jennifer Rubin

Reuters reported:

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani lost his position on Tuesday as head of an important state clerical body after being criticised by hardliners for being too close to the reformist opposition.

I asked Michael Singh of the Washington Institute what this tells us about Iran. He replied by e-mail:

In my view this is the next step in what has been a long-unfolding consolidation of power by hardliners in Iran. In its current form, it began in the background during the presidency of Mohammed Khatami, picked up steam with the rigged election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, and accelerated further with the outbreak of the opposition Green Movement in 2009. [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei no longer makes any pretense of hovering above politics or balancing factions against one another, but rather relies increasingly on the hardest-line elements and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for his authority. It is not just reformists who are shut out of the corridors of power now, but also traditional conservatives.

But while this seems to be negative news in the short term, it may be indicative of the regime's fragility. Singh suggests: "Khamenei may be motivated by the desire to eliminate any perceived threats to his absolute power, but one can't help but feel that the Iranian regime is increasingly a one-legged stool. In the short run this move may enhance Khamenei's power, but in the longer run it seems likely to unify his foes and give dissenting political factions in Iran -- reformist and conservative -- common cause."

This development should bring us back to the most pressing issue (still) in the Middle East, namely whether our efforts to thwart Iran's nuclear program are succeeding. The answer from news reports is no. Scientists may have had accidents and a virus may have disrupted the Iranian nuclear program, but the effort to become a nuclear power continues apace.

If, as Singh surmises, the regime is increasingly frail and defensive this would certainly bolster the argument of Obama critics, who say that regime change should be our official policy. Rather than thinking up new forums in which the Iranian regime can refuse to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons, we should, it seems, be working to assist, aid and provide visibility to the regime's opponents. But, then, this president doesn't really like to get out in front in the Middle East, does he?

By Jennifer Rubin  | March 9, 2011; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Iran  
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Comments

The mullahs are as hated by the people as Mubarak is in Egypt. The difference is that while Mubarak couldn't or wouldn't get the army to attack the protesters, the mullahs have without hesitation murdered and tortured their opposition, who in their minds are enemies of God. The army in Egypt chose not to forfeit its widespread popularity, but the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is already widely despised.

An Iranian-American friend on a visit to Iran tried unsuccessfully to flag a cab. Finally, a passer-by pointed out a nearby mullah also trying to flag a cab. He suggested my friend walk to the end of the block because the cabbies wouldn't stop for a mullah. He did and immediately a cab picked him up.

Posted by: eoniii | March 9, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

"rigged election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005"

That's a first. Ahmadinejad was surprised winner in 2005 against all odds. There were more conservative establishment friendly candidates who were defeated by Ahmadinejad. If Singh's thesis is true someone else should have gotten elected in 2005 such as Ali Larijani. He got in barely to the run off and then defeated Rafsanjani. What part of the election in 2005 was rigged and who claims it? This whole nonsense is beyond belief.

Posted by: mbintampa | March 9, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

mbintampa, all Iranian elections are rigged because the candidates are hand-picked by the ayatollahs. Would our elections be rigged if one of our political parties got to approve all the candidates?

Posted by: eoniii | March 9, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | March 9, 2011 1:22 PM

The mullahs are as hated by the people as Mubarak is in Egypt. The difference is that while Mubarak couldn't or wouldn't get the army to attack the protesters, the mullahs have without hesitation murdered and tortured their opposition, who in their minds are enemies of God.

________________________

False on all counts.

The green movement is a shrinking minority and the conservatives are popular.

And while the demonstrations in Egypt resulted in 365 deaths, only one demonstrator died in the recent demonstrations in Iran.

Furthermore, the Iranian army, like the Egyptian army, played no part in policing the demonstrations.

Posted by: Shingo1 | March 9, 2011 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: mbintampa | March 9, 2011 4:53 PM
That's a first. Ahmadinejad was surprised winner in 2005 against all odds.
_________________________________________

False. All polls taken prior to the elections (including those conducted by American polls) pointed to an Ahmadinejad win.

Posted by: Shingo1 | March 9, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | March 9, 2011 5:08 PM
mbintampa, all Iranian elections are rigged because the candidates are hand-picked by the ayatollahs.
________________________________
That doesn't men they are rigged.
“Would our elections be rigged if one of our political parties got to approve all the candidates?”

All candidates are approve by the only 2 parties that are effectively allowed to campaign. The debates are entirely controlled by the the Commission on Presidential Debates, which in turn is controleld by the Gop and the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Shingo1 | March 9, 2011 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, do you believe what you post? First you say the Iranian elections aren't rigged. Then you say our elections are rigged too.

Posted by: eoniii | March 9, 2011 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, do you believe what you post? First you say the Iranian elections aren't rigged. Then you say our elections are rigged too.
===================================

I used your thesis that limiting who gets to run for president is a form of rigging. Are you denying that the scope of our leadership candidates is artificially limited to a 2 party system?

Posted by: Shingo1 | March 9, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, do you believe what you post? First you say the Iranian elections aren't rigged. Then you say our elections are rigged too.
===================================

I used your thesis that limiting who gets to run for president is a form of rigging. Are you denying that the scope of our leadership candidates is artificially limited to a 2 party system?

Posted by: Shingo1 | March 9, 2011 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, we have many parties on our ballots. No one forces most voters to vote Republican or Democrat. Joe Lieberman was elected to the Senate as an independent; Lisa Murkowski as a write-in. In Iran the elections are among candidates chosen by the mullahs. No one else is even allowed on the ballot. Surely, you can tell which system is rigged.

Posted by: eoniii | March 9, 2011 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, do you believe what you post? First you say the Iranian elections aren't rigged. Then you say our elections are rigged too.
===================================

I used your thesis that limiting who gets to run for president is a form of rigging. Are you denying that the scope of our leadership candidates is artificially limited to a 2 party system?

Posted by: Shingo1 | March 10, 2011 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Well I am not fund of mullahs, never was never will be. But the fact remains Ahmadinejad was a clear winner in 2005 considering how ellection is held in Iran. Candidates must be approved based on Iranian ellection law (now one can dispute the validity)Now, as far as, 2009 alledged rigged ellection, I am also not quite sure. I travelled to most part of Iran prior to 2009 ellection, surprisingly I found Ahmadinejad was quite popular outside large cities (Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz). Ne spent a lot of money (where the money came from I don't know), he even was handing cash to people. I guess in that part of the world is easier to buy votes with hard cash than spending on negative advertising. Even in Tehran the citizen of the north were against him, but the southern area which is rather poor not so against him. In my view since there was no independent verification of votes, no one can say with certainty if Ahmadinejad actually won or was a rigged ellection. There is a lot of speculations flying around, but unbiased and independent views are in short supply.

I personaly shed no tears for Rafsanjani, when he was president for 8 years, he closed more opposition newspaper and muzzled oppositions than Ahmadinejad has done. He also managed to accumolate fairly substansial wealth for himself and his family. He is not a popular man in Iran, he is an opportunist who has geouge with Ahmadinejad, He is nickname is "SHARK".
His present as head of Assembly was nothing, other than figure head. He lives in renovated Shah's summer Palace in northern Tehran, Southern part of Saad-Abad Palace in Shemiran. He is no freedom fighter or pro-democracy bleeding heart, only an a shrewed opportunist.

By the way: These days wealthy mullahs have their own drivers they don't need a cab. The story mentioned above was also popular Joke years ago.

Posted by: abraham3 | March 10, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Well I am not fund of mullahs, never was never will be. But the fact remains Ahmadinejad was a clear winner in 2005 considering how ellection is held in Iran. Candidates must be approved based on Iranian ellection law (now one can dispute the validity)Now, as far as, 2009 alledged rigged ellection, I am also not quite sure. I travelled to most part of Iran prior to 2009 ellection, surprisingly I found Ahmadinejad was quite popular outside large cities (Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz). Ne spent a lot of money (where the money came from I don't know), he even was handing cash to people. I guess in that part of the world is easier to buy votes with hard cash than spending on negative advertising. Even in Tehran the citizen of the north were against him, but the southern area which is rather poor not so against him. In my view since there was no independent verification of votes, no one can say with certainty if Ahmadinejad actually won or was a rigged ellection. There is a lot of speculations flying around, but unbiased and independent views are in short supply.

I personaly shed no tears for Rafsanjani, when he was president for 8 years, he closed more opposition newspaper and muzzled oppositions than Ahmadinejad has done. He also managed to accumolate fairly substansial wealth for himself and his family. He is not a popular man in Iran, he is an opportunist who has geouge with Ahmadinejad, He is nickname is "SHARK".
His present as head of Assembly was nothing, other than figure head. He lives in renovated Shah's summer Palace in northern Tehran, Southern part of Saad-Abad Palace in Shemiran. He is no freedom fighter or pro-democracy bleeding heart, only an a shrewed opportunist.

By the way: These days wealthy mullahs have their own drivers they don't need a cab. The story mentioned above was also popular Joke years ago.

Posted by: abraham3 | March 10, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

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