Paris, 17 Oct. (IPS) As Iran continue to resist pressures from the United Nations Security Council and Germany over its nuclear activites, it is the forthcoming elections of the 86 members Experts Assembly that is becoming the major ground floor of battle between the tow major wings of the theocratic regime's leadership, the so-called hard liners and the so-called pragmatists.
For the time being, attention is focused on one person: Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, a hard line cleric that some say he is the mentor of both Mr. Khameneh'i and the fanatic PresidentMahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad
The Assembly's only importance is that it is the only institution in the Islamic Republic that has the power of removing the leader from office, both on physical or moral or even olitical incompetency, but this is unlikely to happen for the simple reason that the majority of the members are on the direct or indirect payroll of the leader.
So far, more than 500 people, all of them clerics have registered for the elections that is due for 15 December 2006. Like all elections in the Islamic Republic, the candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians, a body that like every major institutions, is controlled by the regime's leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i. Besides usual cheks, the cndidates for this Assembly must also pass a theological exam.
For the time being, attentions are focused on one person: Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, a hard line cleric that some say he is the mentor of both Mr. Khameneh'i and the fanatic PresidentMahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad.
Head of the Emam Khomeini Educational and Research Institute in Qom, a sun burn, dusty rusty city situated 150 kilometres south of the Capital Tehran and known as the "cradle" of militant Shi'ism, Mr.Mesbah Yazdi, nicknamed "Temsah Yazdi", or "Crocodile Yazdi" (temsah in farsi meaning crocodile) runs a theological school that has produced the most hawkish of Iranian clerics and no clerics over years. Likewise, many of influential members of the regime, and the present government have come out of this school.
Opposing Mr. Mesbah Yazdi is the "pragmatist" Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president, Speaker of the Majles and the commander of Iranian armed forces during most of the devastating Iran-Iraq War. As Chairman of the Assembly for Discerning the Interests of the State (ADIS, or the Expediency Council), Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, nicknamed "The Shark" (kouseh, in farsi, means both shark and imbeard, since Mr.Hashemi has little beard) is considered as the regime's virtual number two man after Mr. Khameneh'i
Opposing Mr. Mesbah Yazdi is the "pragmatist" Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president, Speaker of the Majles and the commander of Iranian armed forces during most of the devastating Iran-Iraq War
The rivalery between the two men is an open secret. For the Crocodile and his followers, the Shark and all those like him are to divert "real Islam" from its "real values". They are wealthy fortunate, corrupt and have nothing to do with ordinary people, symbolised now by Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad.
In a speech some weeks ago, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani said he do not remember Mr. Mesbah Yazdi at the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, nor after in the entourage of Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini. "As far as i remember, Mr. Mesbah at times was even against", Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani recalled, hinting that his rival was not among the leaders of the revolution.
Against the hard and uncompromising line suggested by Mr. Mesbah Yazdi in both domestic and international policies, a line followed by the President and his Government, the "pragmatists" proposes moderation and dialogue. "Nothing is as nocive to Islam and the Islamic Revolution as extremism", Mr. Hasemi insisted recently in a speech.
Watching the scene with interest are the reformists whom the hard liners, thanks to their men in all interested and competent apparatus, try to keep away from the Experts Assembly, even though that the body has no impact on the political life of the regime and less for ordinary people, -- hence their indifference towards the coming elections--
Nevertheless, they are expected to enter from the back door, by voting for the candidates of the Militant Clerics Association, the moderate wing of the Combattant Cleric Association, as indicated last week by Mr. Mohsen Mrdamadi, the General Secretary of the Islamic Iran Participation Party.
"What interests people and most of Iranian and foreign political analysts at this stage in these elections is to see what are Mr. Mesbah's real intentions" said an insider, adding: "For the time being, he is looks quite powerful, he is reported to be the guide of The Guide. But he is also reported to be loking for more, to become the leader. But knowing the manoeuvering skills of Mr. Khamene'i and his hunger for power, this could be his own "coup de grace". ENDS EXPETS ASSEMBLY 171006