Saturday, July 18, 2009

Did Ayatollah Khomeini intend a government based on popular sovereignty in 1979?

According to Iran's Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in his Friday prayers sermon Khomeini the government to be that of a Supreme Leader who makes important decisions himself. Rafsanjani, according to Juan Cole, intended that Iran be governed as a Republic whose base of power was the sovereignty of the people. That implies that the Khomeini Revolution was taken over by authoritarian Shiite hardliners who are misruling Iran today. The evidence of that misrule is the extreme public suspicion of the declared outcome of the recent Iranian elections. So Rafsanjini stated yesterday what had to be done to restore the true nature of the 1979 Khomeini Revolution:
Rafsanjani then speaks of a plague of doubt about the election results that has afflicted a not inconsiderable number of Iranians, including many intellectuals and thinking persons.

His solution to this crisis of confidence consists in the following steps:

1. All parties to the dispute should act only in accordance with the law.

2. The authorities must exert themselves to regain the confidence of the people.

3. The door must be left open to free and unrestrained public debate among the contending parties, including on the state-run radio and other media.

4. Demonstrators and other prisoners of conscience must be released by the regime.

5. The press must be left free to publish a wide range of opinion on these issues.

Rafsanjani seems to have been acknowledging that the results of this election are unlikely to be overturned. But he is urging fresh legislation and wide open debate as means of resolving the crisis.
I don't know or understand Iran or the Iranian culture and politics, so I won't pass public judgment on the accuracy of what Rafsanjini said in his sermon except to suggest that while I hope his view is correct it remains up to the people of Iran to decided. Juan Cole has been kind enough to pass it on for our information. Obviously there are strong political factions for both a more democratic Iran responsive to the will of the people and for the hard line authoritarian theocracy of Iran. The U.S. and the other nations surrounding Iran would certainly be better off if Rafsanjini's view were that of those in power there.

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