Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Reading Iran

Prospect Magazine,Tom Porteous:......On the one hand, there is the conservative and unelected, though pragmatic, expediency council, with expanded powers under the control of former president and senior cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani, a godfather-like figure alleged to have amassed a huge fortune since the revolution, was expected to win the summer's presidential election but lost to Ahmadinejad in the last round. He remains a powerful force in Iran not only because of his role as head of the council but because of his patrimonial network of political support.

On the other hand, there is the newly elected president, a man of humble origins with support among the lower classes and strong links to the Revolutionary Guard, the Basij and probably to extremist cliques such as the Hojjatieh and the Abadgaran ("Developers"). It has become clear since his election that Ahmadinejad represents a close-knit network of factions populated by ideologues with a strong sense of entitlement (in part because of their service in the Iran-Iraq war) and resentment that they have been hitherto marginalised from power. Having grasped the presidency, this network is now seeking to assert itself and expand its power base through a mixture of populist sloganeering, backroom political manoeuvring and stealthy purges of opponents. .....


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