The Supreme Guide of Iran, Ali Khamenei, promised the father of a young man tortured to death in an Iranian prison in the aftermath of the protests against the results of the last presidential elections that justice will be achieved, even if the perpetrators are part of the regime itself. Shortly before that, Khamenei stated that reformist leaders are not ‘stooges’ of the West. This served as a blow to the ‘show trials’ and contradicted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s previous statements.
This comes at a time when the Iranian Judiciary Chief Sadeq Larijani announced the formation of a new panel to oversee the current investigations into the violent clashes that followed the announcement of Ahmadinejad’s victory in the presidential elections, and at the same time dismissed a hardline prosecutor who played a central role in the trials of reformists.
What is happening in Iran today? Has Ayatollah Khamenei shifted and joined the reformist ranks or have the reformists begun to act within [government] institutes or is it an atmosphere suitable for reconciliation in Tehran, or is the Supreme Guide now beginning to take action after Rafsanjani recently showed him the pathway of salvation by issuing positive statements?
Of course the Supreme Guide has not become a reformist and the reformists are not acting within [government] institutes; what’s happening in Iran today is a strong sign of fatigue amongst all the opponents there. The battle of the ruling elite in Iran today is an arduous and long one where the victor is a loser and a tie can also be considered a loss, as it is a battle that has drained the regime of its legitimacy and one that weakened the regime in the eyes of its foreign opponents.
Therefore, what is happening in Iran today is a sign of fatigue that has affected everybody, as well as [a sign of] anxiety owing to time pressure, which pursues the Iranian regime as a whole because the structure of the Iranian government is not yet clear and if it is formed, this will be in light of a clear division that threatens its effectiveness. Moreover, Ahmadinejad’s political prestige internally has been harmed.
There is also pressure from Europe’s investigations into the nuclear file and from the Americans who are waiting for a response from Tehran to the initiatives that Washington offered at the beginning of the year, immediately after the election of President Obama. We do not know if there are channels [of communication] behind the scenes between the Mullahs and the Americans now, and that’s why the Supreme Guide wants to move quickly in order to deal with it.
This is what the reformists have come to realize, especially Hashemi Rafsanjani. Therefore the reformists are playing with time in their battle against Iran’s conservatives, as they know that it is in the Supreme Guide’s interest to end the internal disputes in order to engage in a foreign battle.
Therefore, we might not be facing an internal settlement inasmuch as we are facing attempts for settlement. There is a big difference between the two. As a result, we are about to face a sensitive stage regarding the Iranian situation and we only have one question: will the calm steps Khamenei is taking lead to even more weakness, because in some cases victory is defeat? Will President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continue to be president and if so will he be able to restore his internal status? Can Tehran continue handling foreign files with the acuteness and speed it once had, especially with regards to Lebanon, Iraq, the Palestinian cause, ties with Syria and above all with regards to the West?
These are important questions that deserve deliberation in order to know about the upcoming days in our region.