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Iranian “reformists” not moderate, so no moderate victory in elections, experts argue

Posted by Albert Gersh - March 04, 2016

The Iranian elections did not result in the victory of moderates or reformists, several analysts have argued. Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), explained that true reformers were wiped out by the regime in 2009 – they “were silenced, imprisoned, exiled, murdered and banned from politics.” He continued, “What we have left in the Islamic Republic’s theocratically managed democracy, in which parliament has no real power, are regime-loyal laymen and mullahs who are all Islamic revolutionaries.” When there were student protests in 1999, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has been touted as a moderate and reformer, “gave a firebreathing speech threatening the students with death.” Karim Sadjadpour, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said of the elections, “The forces of darkness remain pretty firmly entrenched. We shouldn’t underestimate the population’s will for change or underestimate the means of the Iranian regime to crush change seekers.”

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an associate fellow at FDD, wrote on Friday that the more important of the two elections that took place was that for the Assembly of Experts, a body that appoints the Supreme Leader, and not for the Iranian parliament, whose bills must go through the Guardian Council, an unelected body dedicated to preserving the revolution and answerable to the Supreme Leader. Eighty percent of candidates for the Assembly, most of whom were self-described reformers, were disqualified by the Guardian Council and hardliners won 75% of the Assembly’s seats. Within the parliament, reformists, who had 99% of their candidates disqualified, were so desperate that they filled their party lists with hardliners, severely weakening any supposedly reform list. Ghasseminejad continued, “Labeling radicals as ‘moderates’ or ‘reformists’ does not make them so.”

Ray Takeyh, a former Iran advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wrote before the elections that “Iranian politics have been reduced to a coalition of hardliners and centrists who agree far more than they disagree. On crucial foreign policy issues, such as projection of power in the Middle East and aiding the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, there is a rough consensus across the political spectrum.” Takeyh makes clear that even the Assembly of Experts has limited impact and that, ultimately, real power in Iran lies with unelected bodies and individuals, such as the Guardian Council and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Indeed, last month former Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the lead negotiator for the United States in the Iran nuclear deal, made it explicitly clear that in Iranian politics there are no moderates: “There are hardliners in Iran, and then there are hard-hardliners. Rouhani is not a moderate, he is a hardliner.”


The highest-ranking Muslim officer in the IDF wrote in an op-ed Thursday in the British paper Jewish News that his life story is a direct counter to claims of Israeli racism during “Israeli Apartheid Week,” which is occurring across the UK.

Maj. Alaa Waheeb dismissed the common charge that Israel is a racist state. “Forget for a second (BDS supporters would like you to forget permanently!) that 20 percent of Israelis are non-Jewish, have full rights, and are represented throughout society,” he wrote. “It’s one thing, after all, to have Arab politicians, Christian voters, and Muslim doctors – although we do have them, and quite a few at that. But a non-Jewish army Major? Someone who has not only fought alongside Jewish soldiers, but now trains them too? Would a truly racist state allow me to play such an integral role in our nation’s defences?”

Waheeb also defended the actions of the IDF, writing that his job is to save lives, not end them. Waheeb explained that one of his guiding principles is found in a phrase in the Quran: “If anyone killed a person, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of mankind.” When Hamas fires rockets at Israel or when Fatah incites stabbing attacks, he and the IDF “are here to protect the lives of all Israeli citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish.”

He also rejected the idea that a boycott of Israel was an effective way to bring about peace, as peace requires building bridges, but the BDS movement “wants to build walls.”

Waheeb concluded by emphasizing, from his own experience, how he contributes to building bridges:

During my time in the UK, I spoke alongside a fellow soldier, a medic who has treated both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists without distinction. We were the Muslim who protects Jewish lives, and the Jew who saves Muslim lives. There’s only one country in the Middle East that could produce a couple like that – and it sure as hell isn’t an apartheid state. (via TheTower.org)
Omer Arad was on a routine dive when he had one of the most terrifying experiences of his life. “More than 80 feet below sea level, a malfunction prevented the airflow from the tank to the regulator in my mouth,” said Arad, a computer-science student at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. “In an instant one of my favorite hobbies turned into a genuine nightmare. I tried to signal my buddy, but he was far away and wasn’t looking in my direction. Luckily, I came out of it alive.” The experience led Arad to conceptualize a wearable panic bracelet that lets the diver call his or her partner even when there is no eye contact between them. The idea earned his team first place at this year’s Israeli finals of the international 3-Day Startup (3DS) competition, held in January at the Technion and organized by the university’s Bronica Entrepreneurship Center. Dubbed “BLU,” the wearable distress bracelet would be sold in pairs, to be worn by diving buddies. A simple press of a button immediately would transmit a distress signal – via light and vibration – to the buddy diver. “Our mission was to make the diving world safer,” said Arad. “Hundreds of divers die in diving accidents every year, and the currently available solutions for transmitting a distress signal are inadequate, very expensive and designed for professional divers.” (via Israel21c)

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