Backers of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who has pledged to improve the economy and relations with the West, won a sizeable minority in a parliament that has been under the sway of conservative hard-liners for more than a decade. But in recent days, reformists and centrists suffered setbacks that show both the enduring power of conservative forces in Iranian politics and the challenges facing Rouhani as he seeks reelection next year, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The power of Iran’s hard-liners was highlighted by the recent election of Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati – a cleric who has been in the country’s power structure since its 1979 Islamic Revolution – to lead the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body that picks the country’s next supreme leader.
Just who is Jannati? asks Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Here’s what Time magazine had to say about him a few years ago, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was Iran’s hardliner president:
While much of the senior clergy is skeptical of Ahmadinejad, 83-year-old Jannati is the President’s key ideological and spiritual ally. Viewed as the most radical of Iran’s senior clerics, he heads the 12-member Guardian Council that oversees elections. The Council has been asked by Ayatullah Khamenei to review opposition complaints over the election.
The nuclear deal did not bring any moderation whatsoever to Iran’s internal or external conduct, says Abrams, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy. The notion that “moderates” won the February elections is a fantasy. And the Assembly of Experts just chose the “most radical of Iran’s senior clerics” to lead it and lead the choice of the next supreme leader, he writes for Newsweek.
Let’s hear no more nonsense about “moderation” in Iran, Abrams argues.
Among Iran’s ruling elite, Holocaust denial and the accompanying conspiracies about Jewish power are omnipresent and diverse, but they all have strategic intent, according to Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, respectively. Anti-Semitism is not only central to the regime’s identity; it’s also inextricably tied to its soft-power propaganda aimed at the larger Muslim world, especially Arabs, they write for The Washington Post.
“Anti-Semitism in Iran is an Orwellian voyage of ideology, where fiery sermons and conferences calling for the annihilation of Israel and denying the Holocaust have become the sanctioned language of the Islamic republic,” they add.
A popular Iranian actress has found herself at the center of a dispute over feminism in the Islamic republic after cameras appeared to capture a “women power” symbol tattooed on her arm, reports suggest. Taraneh Alidoosti’s tattoo was seen sneaking from under her sleeve this week as she addressed reporters after returning from the Cannes Film Festival, where her latest film “The Salesman” won two awards. The images sparked intrigue and intense debate on Iran’s colourful social media scene.
On May 30, 2016, the official Saudi daily ‘Okaz published a scathing article attacking Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), branding him “a war criminal” and “the No. 1 murderer” who is today conducting a war against the Sunni residents of the Islamic-State-controlled city of Fallujah in Iraq, MEMRI reports. The article, titled “Soleimani – The Arch-Terrorist Satan” and accompanied by an illustration of Soleimani atop a pile of human skulls, also criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the U.S. for, it said, not acting to deter him and allowing him to persevere in his crimes.