Beirut (Al-Hayat) It is a mistake to downplay the recent statements by Hassan Rohani, the advisor to the Iranian Guide Ali Khameneh’i and the former official in charge of the nuclear file, this file which has become the fundamental reason behind the confrontation between Iran and the world.
The importance of these statements do not stem from the fact that they are the first of their kind. For the so-called "reformers" in Iran have relentlessly voiced their objections to the management of domestic affairs, including the ongoing preparations for the upcoming elections, and the management of the foreign policy in the face of the sanctions that saddle the Iranian economy.
The importance of opponents like Rohani lies in their allegiance to the Islamic Republic.
Rohani's statements are important, as they represent a direct response to Khameneh’i praise of Ahmadinejad's policy and his government and a direct response to the Guide's belief that this policy, which he confidently described as "wise", imposes "retreat" on Iran's enemies. In other words, we have here a senior official in the Iranian hierarchy who can stand up to the Guide of the Revolution, the ultimate authority in the regime, to criticize his position openly and condemn the behavior of the President of the Republic, whose true and perhaps only protector is Khameneh’i.
If there is an alternative to the potential and almost inevitable regional and Western confrontation with Iran in light of Ahmadinejad's radical and far-fetched rhetoric, it must rely on reasonable voices from within the Iranian regime itself, voices that can look at the world with open eyes and rectify this suicidal course Tehran is pursuing under its current president. Voices of the type we have heard from Rohani, who said of the current Iranian foreign policy: "This is not a foreign policy. We must opt for a flexible course in order to ease threats and guarantee Iran's interests." This, while the Iranian President makes light of the international resolutions and the new sets of sanctions, threatening that the Security Council can impose "a hundred resolutions" on Iran without them having any effect.
Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i is the person who has all powers, decides on everything.
These moderate voices from within the regime are not helped by the foreign escalation against Iran or by the Israeli exploitation of the current confrontation with Iran, at a time when Israel possesses a nuclear stockpile that nobody in the region can justify or defend. What serves people, like Rohani, Mohsen Reza’i, the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Qalibaf, mayor of Tehran, and even Ali Larijani, the former nuclear file negotiator among others, is the non-employment of their positions by the Western states in their battle with the Iranian regime.
If these moderates are to be victorious in Iran, if they are to penetrate the wall of cohesion that appears to be solid around Ahmadinejad's policies, we must keep in mind that they come from within the revolution, and as such cannot realize any internal progress when classified in the camp of the "enemies" or accused of serving the enemies. These are the accusations that Ahmadinejad levels at them amidst a game openly intended to distort their image and accuse them of "implementing the enemies' plans."
The importance of these opponents lies in their allegiance to the Islamic Republic. Therefore, by voicing their objection, they aim at serving the Republic and promoting its survival without the least intending to destroy or overthrow it.
Preserving the revolution is exactly the aim behind the implicit criticisms Hassan Rohani directs at the Iranian President in the aftermath of his calls to "wipe Israel off the map." In response to these calls, Rouhani says: "If the international community believes that a country wants to eliminate others, it will not let it do that and will confront it."
Preserving the revolution is exactly the aim behind the implicit criticisms Hassan Rohani directs at the Iranian President.
Thus, while Ahmadinejad believes that the natural result of his rhetorical escalation, and only rhetorical escalation, against Israel, will lead to its extinction, Rohani and those who agree with him in Iran think that such rhetoric is the fuel that feeds hostility toward the Iranian regime, which could lead to its own extinction. This exactly is what former president Khatami referred to when he said that Ahmadinejad's statements "represent a catastrophe; the greatest threat to the revolution, the regime, and the society."
The domestic motion also confirms that the Iranian regime is not an autocratic regime, in the sense that one could suppose in a regime that rests fundamentally on the religious establishment. It is a regime that accepts and is open to plurality, which has the potential to save it. Unfortunately, this does not apply to many surrounding regimes and movements that consider themselves a substitute for Tehran or believe they turn in its orbit. ENDS ROHANI CHALLENGES 2308
Editor’s note: Mr. Elias Hafroush is a leading political analyst. This article was published by the pan-Arab Al Hayat daily, based in Beirut and London, on 29 February 2008.
Highlights, some editing and phonetisation of some names are by IPS