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The Return of Mohammad Khatami

By: Meir Javedanfar

12/10/2008

Mohamamd Khatami, Iran’s former reformist president recently announced that he is considering to run as a candidate in the next presidential elections, if the following two conditions are met:

  1. “My first condition is reaching an agreement with the people on their expectations”.
  2. “I need to see to what extent these programmes can be implemented within the existing (power) structures,” he said.

Judging by his second condition, it looks like that Khatami is either preparing a graceful exit strategy, or that he is simply out of touch with current political realities in Iran.

It is extremely unlikely that Ayatollah Khamenei would allow him to win. Even though Khatami is missed by many Iranians, Khamenei is not one of them. He made his life very difficult when he was president.

Also, in 2009, Iran will be a much more different country.

Power, both political and economic is more firmly in the hands of the IRGC. It would be very difficult for Khatami to change that. First because of the extent of their power, and secondly, their animosity towards him. Therefore, implementation of domestic policies, especially economic ones will be far more difficult than before. Subsequently he would run the great risk of being labeled as a lame duck president, again.

Furthermore, when it comes to foreign policy, he will find a different Iran. Although his milder and more intellectual approach will be a breath of fresh air for many Iranians who are becoming horrified of Ahmadinejad’s behavior, nevertheless, it is very unlikely that he will be able to change much, especially when it comes to the nuclear program. Ayatollah Khamenei is going full speed towards nuclear glory. Not only because of ideology, also because he is a realist. The current situation in the Middle East, oil market and in the UN have provided him with an opportunity, and he is taking it. Khatami won’t be able to change that. Unless there is a massive drop in oil prices.

If he fails again, Khatami should not be disheartened. According to various reports, Iran is somewhere between 2 – 5 years from reaching the bomb. Once it does, Khamenei will need to improve relations with the West. He is most probably realistic enough to know that Iran’s economy could very well suffocate if things continue in their current format. Relations will have to be improved. Iran will have no choice. With a bomb in the basement, Khatami will be the best man for the job.


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Posted on : Oct 12 2008
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