While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was touring the UN last week, delivering acerbic speeches and giving interviews, back home in the Iranian parliament questions were raised not about Ahmadinejad himself, but about the institution of the presidency in total, and whether there is a need for a president alongside the Supreme Leader’s office.
On September 20, Parliamentary Deputy Hamid-Reza Katouzian announced that “some [prominent] political analysts are pondering the lack of necessity for a president in a country like Iran blessed with velayat-e faqih (supreme clerical rule) and a great leader [like Ayatollah Khamenei].” According to Katouzian, the idea is to do away with the office of the president, and to create a parliamentary system where the parliament would choose the prime minister. This may seem surprising, but in fact is in line with the incessant calls by the IRGC and the conservative camp for the absolute rule of Khamenei as the sole ruler of the country. The Supreme Leader himself amplified this new movement recently by interpreting the meaning of the constitutional term “absolute rule of the faqih” as a flexible definition, which allows for ever-increasing role of the faqih “in new realms.”
These new concerted efforts shed light on the cause of continuous disagreements that have existed between the Supreme Leader and the three presidents of the Islamic Republic since he took office. To wit, Rafsanjani was accused of being corrupt; Khatami was accused of succumbing to the West, and later as being close to the “seditious” ring; and Ahmadinejad is purportedly connected to the “deviant” circle, bent on dismantling the institution of Vali Faqih. It is likely that those presidents have not been good enough for Khamenei because of his grand design to do away with the institution of the presidency altogether, and to put an end the dual rule by an elected president and an unelected Vali.
It is unlikely the office of president will disappear by the next election in 2013, when Ahmadinejad’s term expires. However, in this revisionist model, the parliament will be in charge of choosing the prime minister. It is likely that Ayatollah Khamenei had this in mind when he “complained” in April about the lack of discipline in the parliament. Taking a leaf out of Chairman Mao’s Red Book, the Ayatollah argued that the legislative body that supervises the nation needs to be supervised itself. Dominated by arch conservatives, mostly former members of the IRGC, the parliament followed suit, and voted for a new internal regulation for self-censorship.
The regulation stipulates five punishable offenses for the deputies, the third of which is “Breaching national security, and conducting [unlawful] clandestine activities as defined by the law enforcement [officials].” These are code words for voicing opposition. This regulation paved the way for “legal” interference of the Judiciary in the legislative body and the arrest of parliament deputies for their words and deeds. This new regulatory procedure curtails the remaining freedom of speech of the deputies, and slyly overrides article 86 of the Constitution that gives them immunity from persecution for their speeches made in the parliament. By assigning the role of choosing the prime minister to such a parliament, which is already enfeebled by the vetting power of the Guardian Council (itself selected directly and indirectly by the Supreme Leader), there will be no other voices in the country but the one coming out of the Supreme Leader.
Dissolution of the Plan and Budget Organization that took place in the first term of the Ahmadinejad presidency was possibly another step to do away with any form of supervisory institution in the country. The Supreme Leader probably hatched the idea when the sixth parliament, dominated by the reformists such as Ali-Akbar Mousavi- Khoeini, demanded transparency from the large endowments under the Supreme Leader’s office. Khamenei could thwart that effort at the time, and the idea was buried in the seventh parliament, which convened with a majority of conservative deputies.
Formation of a different state?
A radio station asked me some time ago about Ayatollah Khamenei’s vision of an ideal state. The reporter said that Khamenei does not get along with any president. What is he looking for? What kind of state does he have in mind? I answered that the ideal state for Ayatollah Khamenei is already in place, and that is his Beit or office. What the reformists used to allude to metaphorically as “the shadow government” now is the real government. Prominent members of the Supreme Leader’s office, such as Seyed Ali-Asghar Hejazi, Vahid Haghani, Mohammad Mohammadi-Golpaygani, Ali-Akbar Velayati, Yahya Rahim-Safavi, Mohammad-Ali Aziz-Jafari, Qassem Soleimani, and a subset of members from various security and military forces and religious commissars are now running the country by decree.
The statement by the parliament deputy Katouzian may be the harbinger of what Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Mir-Hussein Mousavi’s warned about right after the 2009 election debacle. They said that plots were hatched to build a “different state,” replacing the present Islamic regime. Probably they were alluding to this new state, a military-clerical state where Vali takes off his cloak to dun his old military fatigues he wore so proudly during the war against Iraq. Ayatollah Khamenei cut his teeth in the war front as the informal deputy commander of unconventional warfare. He has more military and security experiences than ecclesiastical studies. In the matters of war and security, Khamenei is probably more seasoned than many IRGC leaders.
The imagined new regime, led by the military-clerical Supreme Leader Khamenei will continue to take advantage of Shiite lore as an effective means of creating solidarity in the ranks, spreading fear in the name of religion, and using the knowledge of performing religious rituals as the litmus test for gauging loyalty to the regime. While the IRGC members, retired or active duty, run the state, the government will showcase a prime minister and a cabinet drafted by the subdued parliament. But two hurdles remain: The name of the Islamic Republic needs to be changed to reflect the removal of presidency, and a referendum has to be held to change the Constitution.
Changing the country’s name after just 32 years since the last name change is odd, but African countries do the same often with no major problem, except for some international confusion.
Removing the office of presidency by a plebiscite may prove to be more problematic: The last revision of the Constitution was put to referendum in 1988 coinciding with the transition of power from Ayatollah Khomeini to Khamenei. It removed the office of prime minister, among other changes. Then the war weary Iranians paid not much attention to the grave changes that were being made which largely changed the nature of the law.
This time may prove to be different. Iran’s urban dwellers have sought various opportunities in recent years to show their resentment. A push toward constitutional amendment with the clear intention of enhancing the Leader’s power may prove to be not that easy; and it could provoke another large scale and potentially destructive mobilization against the regime.
First published in insideiran.org.
Rasool Nafisi, a professor at Strayer University, is a specialist in Iranian politics and the clerical establishment.
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Mr. Nafisi About possibilitiesby Abarmard on Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:39 PM PDT
There are many possibilities to what will take place as Islamic Republic changes gradually based on situation on ground and continuous power struggles. I am not yet convinced that this will turn to Monarchy for a few strong reasons.
Firstly Iran can't take the form of Egyptian or Syrian system that a sole power is in place until death or passed down to the next one in line. The system is not setup in that way. The system is in the format of despotic, similar to China or Russia. China in a sense of long term plans, Russia in a sense of leadership over watching the system as a directive to all its members. The worse the system will become would be similar to Russia with addition of religion. Therefore I reject the argument regarding Mullah based Monarchy. The next leader will not be assigned by Khamenei for some obvious reasons. The power of Khamenei is not real. Khomeini was Iran’s first experience after the revolution. Khamenei or anyone else would grow with what was given as a vague power base. Yet the next leader and assigning him would take a different route. That is my belief.
I absolutely disagree with the notion that Islamic Republic will change its name in the coming decades (Given that the system survives). It can't and if it does the power base will have to shift dramatically, hence won't be the same system. In other words the only way to have a different system in place is to have a different system other than Islamic Republic, which then wouldn't be this system or a progression of this system. It would be called a Coup.
In my mind, the concept of not having a president in Islamic Republic doesn't come because of shifting powers from one end to another. It comes from parallel powers that are elected directly from majority vote. The Majlis sees itself as the true representative of people of Iran, so does the president who is also directly elected by the people. Having a infant system in place, where learning process is costly to our nation, we are experiencing just that: growing up. These parallel powers are viewing each other as the true voice of representing the majority. This constant struggle gives focal power to patriarch of system family. The patriarch is not powerful as a unit, king, dictator, or things in that nature. It is powerful by being the focus of powers in a central role of stability. That’s why some of them the people inside emphasize the role of VF. However having said all that power changes the equation and with that we witness shifts and changes of struggles. Yet not enough evidence exists to prove that power has permanently shifted to one side or it can be sustained.
Ultimately there will be no change in presidency. The issue has been mentioned by one or two representatives and so far it has been totally ignored. I do not see any strong argument as this is a real issue concerning the future of Islamic Republic from its representatives.
What would be an interesting change is the future of leadership. I believe that's what the concern, or uncertainty of the Republic lays. Unlike some, I don't buy that Khamenei's son will take over, or any of the IRCG members. If they do, again that would be a coup. The possibility of a Coup de tête is always there, but probability is very minute. I wouldn't consider it seriously in my analysis.
Since the power grab of Khamenei, Iranian system has been changed and power has been shifted to his office. However the poles that makes the base of Islamic Republic is in place. With the going of Khamenei, coming of a different format of Velayat is very much possible. That is only if the pieces of this system are still in place.
More on this later...
COP jaan I meant to say, I'll "comment" next week, not belog!by Esfand Aashena on Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:26 PM PDT
I'm not going to belog next week about Hamed's concert, I think this kisses your hand!
Everything is sacred
Give or take a year or two!by Esfand Aashena on Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:17 AM PDT
You're having VIP tickets and will be hobnobbing with Hamed and if you're lucky his beautiful and sexy lady groupies!
As self appointed i.com event announcer it is your responsibility to let us know! There are plenty of DC residents here and they all don't know about it. If you belog today I'll comment, if not, I'll belog after the weekend.
Everything is sacred
1970 years...by Cost-of-Progress on Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:10 AM PDT
You are probably lowballing it...
I wasn't sure, but it does appear that there is no seating assignment. So I made a mistake by buying the higher priced tickets. Silly me, I keep thinking things will get better in these Iranian events....but it is always hamoon aash-o hamoon kaase'.
Not sure how many locals post here on IC, so blogging may be pointless; no audience to enagge except of course you....Don't forget that muscle shirt, so we can hookup.
COP jaan using ur own analogy (Vatican) we have 1970 years 2 go!by Esfand Aashena on Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:01 AM PDT
Yes I have bought our Hamed's ticket, there is no seating assignments so it's going to be donkey to donkey! Although better because you can get closer seats.
It's in Harris theatre which is where I think they held the Norooz event this year.
I thought you were going to belog about it? Why don't you do it, you did it for the Freer film festival, why not for Hamed? Come on!
Everything is sacred
esfand, whenby Cost-of-Progress on Fri Sep 30, 2011 09:51 AM PDT
do you think it'll get better and with over 500 years of relentless damage, will it ever get better?
Did u get your tickets for Hamed yet?
Well I guess he wears a robe!by Esfand Aashena on Fri Sep 30, 2011 08:02 AM PDT
Mehrban jaan it's that Guardian article that says a "source" has said so but reading on it appears that the "source" may not be even Iranian and goes on to say "reports".
Anyway, anything is possible and what is most likely that Iran is becoming more and more dictatorial. It is going to get worse before it gets better.
Everything is sacred
Re: Mojtababy Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on Fri Sep 30, 2011 08:02 AM PDT
It don't take much to become a cleric when your father is VF. He just declares you one and you get the job. My cousin had to take an 'Islamic" test to get in the university in Iran. She failed but told me the questions. I am not a Muslim but I passed. Simply by picking the most unreasonable response to each question. Given a multiple chose always pick the dumbest one and you are sure to get at least an 80 %. The ones you don't get right will be close enough to get you in.
Hamsadeh jaanby Mehrban on Fri Sep 30, 2011 08:08 AM PDT
I agree, abolishing the position of the President would be a dangerous move for VF. It is hard to believe that it would happen but then, if he can't bring his Presidents in line, anything is possible.
Dear Mehrabanby Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on Fri Sep 30, 2011 07:57 AM PDT
I know. You have too much integrity to do it.
On flagging commentsby Mehrban on Fri Sep 30, 2011 07:56 AM PDT
It was not me.
Esfand jaan, Mojtaba Khamenei is a clericby Mehrban on Fri Sep 30, 2011 07:53 AM PDT
here is his wiki link. There is a reference about the desire or possibility, etc. of him being the successor in the same link.
Faramarz Janby Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on Fri Sep 30, 2011 07:53 AM PDT
Why am I not being fair. I am sorry did not mean to hurt your feelings :-) You are a good dude! The reason I don't support you is because I like you. If I say anything in your support it gets flagged. You are better off without me.
Supporting JJ is not going to be removed. Mehraban and I do not have the best of relations. But I always had a thing for cats. Got two of them already and they are the hairiest things I saw! I would never subject you to my support. It is like the curse of the pharaohs! Do you want Im Ho tep aka Boris Karloff coming after you :-) I would never be able to live with myself. Not to mention I like your name. A good friend of mine is named Faramarz!
all this parliamentaryby hamsade ghadimi on Fri Sep 30, 2011 07:45 AM PDT
all this parliamentary "discussion" is just posturing. ali geda is just sending signals to the current president and the next one (he's already selected by the way) to watch their toes (and other extremeties). the whole presidency/election/voting is another form of taghieh. khamenei famously urged in a mashhad speech before the 2009 (s)election for everyone to go out and vote as their votes serve as a collective slap in the face of western countries.
they've mastered these sham elections and there's no way they're going to give it up. remember the days when khamenei would win presidency elections with 95% of votes where almost all eligible voters casted their ballots. now, they've devised their formula on voting rate of eleigible voters and margin of winning by the selected president. in the true machiavellian style, the one who holds power prefers to operate from behind the scene and have many escapegoats doing the dirty work (and un speeches). removal of presidency: not gonna happen.
VPK, You Are not Being Fairby Faramarz on Fri Sep 30, 2011 07:44 AM PDT
How come JJ and Mehrban are right and I am not?
You are not a fair judge and the ultimate arbiter of what is being posted on every blog!
I am going to call my daddy and complain about you!
Re: Dear Mehrabanby Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on Fri Sep 30, 2011 07:43 AM PDT
What was offensive about "If you want to discuss other issues I have a blog for that. So long regarding that issue". Why did you flag my post. Is this an attack? Is there an insult? Is there a swear word.
Who flagged my post and what is offensive about it. I may guess who is flagging my posts right and left. I could go around flagging their post as well. But I WANT TO KNOW. What is offensive about the statement above. I request the admin remove the flag from it. Or we may as well throw in the towel and go back to IRI. Why bother if someone who hates me gets to flag my posts without any reason. I have a pretty good idea who it is. Perhaps the one who threatened to beat me to a pulp.
I already noted that my posts are being flagged and removed. Maybe I should get in the business of flagging posts as well.
Mehrban jaan where have u read Khamanei has "tried" his son?by Esfand Aashena on Fri Sep 30, 2011 07:28 AM PDT
His son has said some things but not about becoming the next leader. I have not seen Khamanei himself mention his son before.
Was there a news link or something about Khamenei grooming his son to be the next leader?
It's one thing for Mubarak or Qaddafi or Saddam to groom their sons, but in Iran the leader needs to have "some" religious credentials.
I don't think Mojtaba even wears cloth!
Everything is sacred
Faramarzby Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on Fri Sep 30, 2011 07:11 AM PDT
No it was not a smart move rather a very stupid one by VF. The way for IRI to survive was to let Montazeri be VF. Then open the system and do what Khomeini had promised. Move to Qom.
But it did not happen and now IRI has lost all its legitimacy. Result will be it will go. There are many outcomes but the best one is a Nationalist regime. If that happens Iran will be saved. If not we are going to have a lot more headaches. The things to avoid are "revenge" and Khorde hesab tasfiyeh. As I discussed on a blog with Ayatoilet we need a "truth and reconciliation" process. A temporary hold on executions to be hopefully made permanent. Then the nightmare will be gone.
Right JJby Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on Fri Sep 30, 2011 07:02 AM PDT
And the reason why he will fall and hard. We are way past the rule of one man. He had a chance for getting a pseudo-democracy with Mousavi. Obama was ready to lift the sanctions. My friends in CA were ready to open up the outsourcing firms. But it is too late now. Khamenei will either go by "natural" forces or be shoved out. Then is the big question. What do you think is going to follow? Maybe Rafsanjani; Mousavi or a far more powerful shakeup.
Constitutional Velayat Faghih!by Faramarz on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:59 AM PDT
Smart move on the part of the Rahbar and the gang!
Why create the ongoing headache every 4-year by the uncertain "election", worries about turnout, the embarrassing debates and the questions about the vote rigging?
The right thing to do is have the low-key Majlis "elections", throw in there a few Reformers to look democratic and pick Rahbar's Gardner or masseuse (Dallak) as the Prime Minister!
The only drawback will be the annual pilgrimage to the UN and the dinner party and the interviews. But then again, Rahbar doesn't want anyone to get out line and upstage him.
Great Machiavellian move!
Monarchyby Jahanshah Javid on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:55 AM PDT
True, in a sense. You don't need to have a crown on your head or a queen by your side to be a monarchy. But let's not get tangled in semantics. You can define the state in Iran in various ways. Call it whatever you wish. The bottom line is that the ruler has absolute power. For now... :)
Mehraban is rightby Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:50 AM PDT
This is not a theocracy. It is a monarchy by Khamenei. As I said before AN is nothing. Hence the fallacy in the statement of Colombia University President. When Khamenei goes there will be a power grab. IMHO it will be the best chance for reform.
JJby Mehrban on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:46 AM PDT
Theocracy means the rule of religion. In his case the rule (archon) is of one man (monos). Structurally if the President is done away with, Islamic Republic will be a Monarchy (we also know that he, khamenei has tried to appoint his son as the next VF).
Dear Mehrabanby Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:43 AM PDT
If you want to discuss other issues I have a blog for that. So long regarding that issue.
Dear JJby Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:42 AM PDT
It is not a theocracy it is a dictatorship nothing less or more. That is why I objected to the President of Columbia University calling AN a dictator. The guy is hardly a dictator since he has no power.
The dictator is Khamenei who is going to be pushing up daisies soon. I wish Americans knew who to send their insults to. Iran is a plain standard military dictatorship. Run by a King named VF.
I refuse to be derailedby Mehrban on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:34 AM PDT
Into a different topic. If you would like to use this opportunity for further exposure of your ideas. Be my guest.
No 1988 Massacres either I suppose ...by Darius Kadivar on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:36 AM PDT
BBC Report: Mir Hossein Moussavi next to Gaddafi's Defecting Sidekick ;0)
But well I suppose I will give you the benefit of the doubt ...
DEVIL's ADVOCATE: Mir-Hossein Mousavi 'involved in massacre', says report
How about You Folks ?
Pro Moussavi Supporters Try to Discourage Pro Pahlavi Supporters In Rome Rally
"A Country that Loses it's Poetic Vision is a Country that faces death" -Saul Bellow.
Natural stateby Jahanshah Javid on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:28 AM PDT
Thank you for an excellent analysis. This is the natural progression of the Islamic Republic. The Supreme Leader (Khomeini or Khamenei) has always interfered in major and minor ways in the affairs of the government -- all institutions that undermined its authority or made policies out of line with His Majesty.
The injection of the idea of having a prime minister rather than an elected president makes life a lot easier for everybody: There would be no electoral controversies, no egos to deal with when a new president is elected, and no need to taarof about who's completely in charge.
We are witnessing another telling example of the monopolization of power by the clergy, which started when radical Islamists demanded the inclusion of Velayat e Faghih in the constitution when it was being drafted soon after the revolution. This is the key to understanding everything in the Islamic Republic: It is not a republic. It is a theocracy.
In addition How low have we fallen in our expectationsby Darius Kadivar on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:28 AM PDT
to see Role Models for our nation In the most backward African Countries much of whom are not even democracies ....
"Changing the country’s name after just 32 years since the last name change is odd, but African countries do the same often with no major problem, except for some international confusion. "
When our intellectuals at the time of the Constitutional Revolution more than a century ago were far more progressive ...
HISTORY FORUM: Nader Naderpour on Iran's Constitutional Revolution and European Rennaissance (1996)
And Some of You folks not long ago were boasting about a leap forward ? ...
Khatami, Democracy, & Islamic Republic
Khejalat ham khoub cheezyeh ...
I am FULLY On the Topicby Darius Kadivar on Fri Sep 30, 2011 06:17 AM PDT
It's YOU Jomhurykhah's including the author of this article which is overlooking history and refusing intellectual accountability for his own Constituency's responsability in the negative outcome of their revolution.
We constitutionalist have been accountable for our shortcomings to deaf ears .
ROYAL ACCOUNTABILITY: Crown Prince Reza Praises Mossadegh's Patriotism (ANDISHEH TV)
ROYAL ACCOUNTABILITY: Crown Prince Reza on Torture During His Father's Rule
Crown Prince Reza Slams 'Shahollahis'
I have not seen the same from your likeminds nor anyone Secular or Not who advocates a Republic to this day ... Other than blaming it on the Shah's shoulders or anyother convenient excuse to escape personal intellectual accountability.
Azar Nafisi is probably the closest I came to an honest self critical Jomhurykhah to date.
That's Why I will take her "Republic of Imagination" anyday for the type of bankrupt Jomhury most IRANICANS have in mind ...
SATIRE: The Burqa Republic of Our IRANICAN Dreams ;0)
"A Country that Loses it's Poetic Vision is a Country that faces death" -Saul Bellow.