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'We do not wish Khatami for the presidency' - Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed in English

This is an opinion piece with reader comments from the Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat about Mohammed Khatami's decision to stand in Iran's June elections.   Read the Arabic original here. Translation by Asma.

There is a feeling of enthusiasm and anxious joy since former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami announced his intention to run for the elections in Iran. For many, Khatami is an example of the moderate peace-loving Iranian politician, after a long series of Iranian leaders interested in confrontations. It is a right perception after all, but betting on Khatami himself is wrong, not because of the reformist leader himself, but because of the Iranian regime. The system is conceived in a way that does not allow a president-elect like Khatami, who belongs to a big popular political party but that has weak authorities, to administer the higher Iranian policy as he deems appropriate. The proof is his last presidential experience, during which he had to make serious fallbacks to the point of humiliation by the extremist parties within the regime, as they went as far as closing newspapers and magazines that were on Khatami's side, banning candidates from his party, and pursuing staff that were working with him, until they marginalized him and he left the presidency without achieving anything important of what he promised to the Iranian people, and on which basis he was elected.

For a character such as the current President Ahmadinejad, he actually belongs to the ruling regime, he belongs to the Revolutionary Guard which has become more powerful than ever and more involved in domestic and external affairs, and he is more close to the real President, who has absolute powers, namely the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Thus having Ahmadinejad stay as a President, is better than waiting for the arrival of a President like Khatami.

The elections in Iran are not as they are called, real elections, but they embroidered according to the needs of the fundamentalist regime that prevents those from outside it to run for the elections. Its extremism went as far as narrowing candidates’ circles and it banned two thousands candidates from the forthcoming elections, and competing for seats in the parliament, although they are Islamists. The regime prevented them because they are reformists like Khatami. Also, the elections are surrounded, as candidates are not allowed to engage in debates, or to have TV advertisements, and so on.

As we appreciate the attitudes and views of reformists like Khatami, with their liberal spirit and the possibility of agreeing with them realistically on all issues, including difficult ones such as the nuclear issue, the foreign presence, and strained diplomatic relations, and also when there is a conflict, then cohabitation with a regime headed by Khatami is possible with the least possible degree of uncertainty, unlike other hard-line leaders. Trust is the main problem between us and the Iranians, because they are talking about the development of nuclear energy claiming that it is for peaceful use, while all indicators confirm that it's an industry for military purposes. And when we see what Iran does politically and militarily in our region, we do not have but a dim picture.

Although reformist Islamists are the best option, but their access to the presidency in the elections next spring - if it happens - will not please us very much, because they are doves without wings. If there must be an agreement, or not, it should be with the real rulers.

Dr. Samer Ismail, "France", 08/02/2009

Professor Abdul Rahman, what you are looking for in your article? Whether we are with or against Iran, it's a country that has all the elements for a state of the future, and it knows what it wants. As for democracy, it's just an illusion for the weak that major countries trade in front of us, and based on which they distribute indulgences selectively to those that they want. As for us, just meeting a major politician, such as a President, is considered a great victory for which we applaud. As they say, silent efforts while numbers speak, and we are quite the opposite. Thank you.

Babiker Abbas - Sudan, «Canada», 08/02/2009

Iranian elections can not be described as fake, as Iran has a real democratic system, and there is a proper constitution and stability since the revolution, and there a periodical rotation of presidency, contrary to our Arab world, in which power is inherited by the son when the ruler is dead.

Abdullah Al-Abdullah, «France», 08/02/2009

Although I am one of the peaceful Saudis, but I call for strong vigilance regarding what is being plotted around us. We are not done yet with seditious terrorists and the problems they caused between us and the others, and now extremists in Iran began planning for the control of the region with money and weapons. We should not be fooled by the piousness with which they envelop their deeds, and we should be ready to defeat and face them, starting by exposing their plans. So continue unveiling them, May God reward you, just like you unveiled Al Qaeda when it first emerged, and Saddam, and the Devil's Party in Lebanon, and like you exposed how Damascus and Hamas rely on Tehran. God will not let down a believing slave with good intentions.

Mahdi Al-Otaibi, «France», 08/02/2009

Whoever follows Iran from within, and the way it takes its major decisions, knows that their real policies are made in an institutional way, and they are not often affected by the President. In the previous period of Khatami's rule, in spite of his discretion in his political speech and him avoiding stirring emotions... but that was the real start of the Iranian nuclear power, and Iran's interference in the Arab countries reached its peak, especially in Lebanon and its environs. I even believe that it was the golden age during which current policies was designed.

Omar Albany, "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ", 08/02/2009

Barack Obama has overcome the complexities of the Persian regime when he announced his intention to meet the Supreme Leader of the Iranian Republic during his candidacy for the presidency of the U.S., and deal with the Iranian decision maker directly without going into the maze of multiple presidential figures and puppets, as the Iranian regime has a European  and Western president, with a civilized and democratic facade, namely Ali Larijani who has the mission of passing agreements over the level of vision of short-sighted ones. Then there is the radical revolutionary President who struggles behind the speakers, namely Ahmadinejad who has for a mission to hide all agreements, projects and schemes from Arabs, so he is of course directed to Arabs. There is also the economic and religious President, who works on preserving the dominance and power of turbaned Persian nationalist hard-liners, and putting down their opposition from liberal forces and non-Persian nationalities, and of course we mean here Hashemi Rafsanjani. That's it for the head of the regime, now you can imagine how the case is for the first and second rows, and how many heads they have.

Ahmed Alhajri, "The United States of America", 08/02/2009

You are right about the Iranians. Iranians are revolutionary, and they do not want a leader who is not like them. As for Ahmadinejad, he is a statesman with a strong personality, and he is loved by people. In fact, I think that Ahmadinejad is a man who stands with the right side, unlike Arab rulers who stand with America.

Zaina Kayed Shehab, " Kuwait ", 08/02/2009

When Obama made it to presidency, the most important thing that analysts repeated there was that the change is an international matter, and that its effects will reach the entire planet, and not just America. And that's what Obama pointed out more than once, due to the global malaise and popular despondency everywhere about extremist movements and groups that exploit religion, and Islamist-claimed in general taking over power. Obama's victory was an expression of resentment toward the former president. The same is the case for the results of the Iraqi elections, and how religious candidates where prevented from candidacy there. And there are good prospects for Livni to take over Kadima, which is moderate concerning peace related issues. As for Iran, it's not a secret for anyone how things are out of control there, in an extensive decreasing way, to the extent that they are boasting about them harbouring terrorists, and supporting them no matter what their views are. But on the other side, there is a growing anxiety at the top of power in Iran concerning abduction of powers, as well as a popular rage, which lead their guide to seek restoring his powers that were taken from him, but he had not protested to preserve face, and to pretend holding on to an alleged and claimed coherence and cohesion.