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  • Writer's pictureRichard Murff

WTF: Iran's New President

Don't Expect Too Much


Iran's New President
Photo: Wikicommons

That Masoud Pezshkian, a reformist seeking to re-engage the West, was allowed to run for Iran’s next president isn’t that strange. The Supreme Leader will often let the odd reformist run to show the voter that the whole exercise isn’t a put-on – the novel thing is that they actually let the man win.


Normally, the Supreme Leader, his hand-picked Guardian Council and his praetorian guard, the IRCG, would just rig the election. What Friday’s election tells us is that the regime recognizes that it is in a precarious place: It needs at least a modicum of popular support or it’ll be putting down riots and protests every week. For a government trying to wage quite so many proxy wars as this one is, that can be tedious. The hardline, 85-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni, is also currently trying to appoint his own son as successor, so he’s at least got to look like he’s listening to someone.


Reformist regimes aren’t unheard of; the last one Mohammad Khatami served two terms (1997-2005) with Dr. Pezshkian (a former heart surgeon) as his Minister of Health. It’s worth noting that it is now illegal to either quote Khatami or broadcast his image – whatever that tells us. What it tells us about Pezshkian is that he has carefully managed not to cross the red lines set by the hardliners. It’s probably best not to expect too much from the man.

For the regime, it’s not a bad plan; don’t rig the election, let the vote stand, let the people feel they’ve been heard, and then let a theocratic, sclerotic bureaucracy just stymie all his radical plans like re-entering the Nuclear Deal to get out from under crippling US sanctions or letting grown women dress themselves.


The beauty of Iran’s foreign policy of proxy wars is it’s – well maybe not plausible – but legal deniability. If Tehran can look at the rest of the world and say it has nothing to do with Hamas, Hezbollah the Houthi’s et al, then the IRGC can look at the office of the president and his supporters and say the same thing. Besides, the military, internal security, state media, judiciary and parliament are all in the hands of the Supreme Leader, the Guardian Counsel, or the IRGC.


Still, on election day, Iranian’s poured out into the streets as if the proposed removal of the dress codes had already happened. Tehran, for now at least, it letting this slide. But Iran’s problems with the US and the rest of the world are no longer the abstract Universal Values – Human Rights – Don’t be a Dick variety in which the UN specializes. The problem the rest of the world has with Iran is very concrete. It’s not unrelated that Hamas finally responded last week to Israel’s last cease-fire proposal sent back in May by dropping its objections to a six-week truce to release hostages prior to more comprehensive cease-fire talks. Tehran is still buying every dusty terrorist and militia gang they can to wreak havoc throughout the Middle East, supplying arms to the aggressor in the largest European war since World War II and pestering global shipping in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. There is no reason to think that Tehran will stop moving closer to China and Russia.


The same nasty regime will just have a more likable face, and it won’t really matter how the ladies wear their hair.        

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