8/15/2013

Notations On The Latest in Iran

Iran has a new Government. The Iranian Parliament (the Majlis) has approved 15 of Mr. Rouhani's 18 proposed Ministers. I view it as a good start as Rouhani begins his work. One of the three ministers lost his vote of confidence by one vote.   It appears that the nominee for Minister of Education lost his vote of confidence because of his association with the Green Movement--a travesity.    But one sign of confidence is the rise of the Tehran Stock Market--a 57% surge over the last number of months.

As I have noted before, the rhetoric has been "soft". Yet, the "big stick" that began back in 2009 seems to still be in effect. This "tightening" up has been continuing nonstop in Iran since the advent of the "Green Movement" in 2009 which was a precursor to the Arab Spring that is yet to truly run its' course. Although the current spring has turned into a harsh winter with the events in Egypt, the bombing in Beirut and the continued carnage in Syria.

The Green Movement was a bold attempt for Islamic Republic to correct its' excesses and the so-called conservatives simply panicked. As Rouhani's Government begins, the question is whether the Islamic Republic is able to correct itself or not. The verdict is still out despite the moderate tone and interesting stance that Rouhani has taken. The World needs to realize that part of the convoluted system that is the Islamic Republic there is--a separation of power. It is hard to believe--but it is true. The debates within the bodies are quite vibrant and heated at times. Furthermore, all l kinds of bodies exists on top of the existing three branches. It gives one a true headache to try and figure it all out.

As it stands in Iran right now, it is the reformist faction within the ruling elite that is in the ascendancy due to the selections Rouhani has made from the Expediency Council that was fashioned by Rafsanjani akin to what the US has with Brookings/etc. But, as you note, Khameini has to help "Vette" the nominees and some of the questionable nominees--including the Justice Minister and the Intelligence Minister--left some key questions open. They were amongst the Ministers given a vote of confidence by Parliament.
Rouhani also appointed Salehi, who served as Ahmadinejad's Last Minister of Foreign Affairs, to head IRan's Atomic Energy Organization. He ran the outfit before A-Jad (now thankfully the former President with a job as a member of the Expediency Council). I find it a welcome appointment as he finalized his Government. One of the other moves that Rouhani has made has been to resurrect the US Equivalent of the Office of Management and Budget. I view that as a welcome development as he begins the ardeous task of building an economy devastated by years of mis-management and the increasing pressure of the sanctions. Interesingly, the new Economy Minister received the highest votes in Parliament.

At the swearing in ceremony of Iran's New Foreign Minister, Dr. Zarif, President Rouhani made some rather Startling comments.     He noted how the people spoke for hope and change and spoke for a desire for a better life.   He reminded all that the people had to be listened to or else defeat is for certain.     He also encouraged the staff at the Foreign Ministry (and the broader Government) to speak their minds without fear of recrimination.     Despite the careful balancing act he continues to play, the acknowledgement that this, in fact, has happened is a realization of how things have changed.     The rhetoric continues to be favorable--the qeuestion is how it will be sustained.     I view what 
as quite remarkable in recognizing the power of the Vote and the misguided notion that some analysts have had.    He is an insider and seems to recognize the need for change is now.     I also do agree with him on his comparison with Egypt--however not the Egypt of today.   The Egypt of today has been witness to carnage beyond words.   How Mosques have been raided by Security Forces and Churches have been burnt is beyond reason, logic and compassion.   What is also disturbing is how Egypt has been talking about the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood.   The Prime Minister's propsal is being "studied".     I am not sure what the rationale behind it.     The Brotherhood has had this challenge for over 80 years and seems to realize it now.    The brutality continues with no apparent end in sight.

Iran never seizes to be amazing and fascinating. It will be interesting to see how Rouhani will navigate through the minefields. 

Also released to http://www.outsiderviews.com, August 2013 (All Rights Reserved)
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