Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Is He Iran’s Obama? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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They have finally seen it for themselves, for here we have Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi pledging to change the image of his country from an extremist state to a moderate state if he is elected president of Iran.

In his first press conference since declaring his candidacy for the Iranian elections, which are scheduled to take place on June 12, Moussavi acknowledged that “Extremism has cost us a great deal; we have to work hard to build international confidence.” He added, “Our foreign policy is extreme. In some cases, we have been on the brink of extremism and found that we had to turn back.”

This is coming from an Iranian politician; not an Arab, Westerner, Wahhabi or Sunni but an Iranian.

The question here is: how do the supporters of the Iranian alliance in our region – who used to call us followers of sectarianism and whose mission was to polish Iran’s image – respond to Moussavi’s comments? When we spoke about Iranian extremism and the danger that it poses to our region, they cast accusations against us instead of discussing the issue raised.

The important point here is that since Moussavi has acknowledged Iran’s extremism in its foreign policy and that at times it has been on the verge of extremism but has been forced to turn back, this means that Iran’s allies in our region are also extremists; so Tehran cannot become extreme without extremists!

This is what we said [in the past] about Iran’s allies in our region who contributed to upsetting our stability, and spreading abhorrent sectarianism among us. Moreover, Moussavi’s statement about the extremism of Iran is an answer to those who call for Iranian-Arab dialogue.

The vital question here is: does Moussavi’s statement on improving the world’s opinion of Iran mean that Tehran has a presidential candidate following in the footsteps of Obama who said that his country would change as long as others changed too?

I doubt it highly, as there is no difference between the conservatives and reformists in Iran with regards the nuclear file. Regardless of Moussavi’s acknowledgement of Iran’s extremism in its foreign policy, he stands by his country’s right in [following] the nuclear programme.

This is the crux of the matter and the point of contention between Iran and the international community as a whole, let alone Iran’s neighbours. America does not care all that much about the radicalism of Iran, as here we have Washington talking about negotiating with the “moderate” Taliban.

No matter what he does, Moussavi will never be Iran’s answer to Obama; in Tehran there are institutions and apparatus that have become semiautonomous from the executive authorities in the country, which are ruled by the Supreme Guide, not the President of the Islamic Republic. Furthermore, those institutions have overlapping interests in the trade, political and security fields and the best example is the Revolutionary Guards and its role both inside and outside of Iran. What some people do not know is that the power of that body surpasses the military sphere; it now deals with sensitive trade activities! Therefore, it is difficult for Iran to have its own Obama as long as there is no real activity within Iran based on respect for the other and not on sectarianism or racism. Until then, there will be no difference between Iran’s conservative and reformist politicians.