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Plenty of false dawns before

Reader comment on item: Iran in Crisis

Submitted by Patrick (United States), Jul 24, 2002 at 11:56

Taheri's resignation is just the latest in a series of events that have challenged the hardliners for more than a decade. Going back to Ayatollah Montazeri's removal as the apparent successor to Khomeini, to Rafsanjani's fleeting attempts to modernise the political system to Khamenei's unexpected victory in 1997, the hardliners have been presented with effective challenges. Still, they are able to maintain control over important centers of power. The $64 billion question is for how long.

Dr Pipes is right to recognize something fundamental maybe happening. However we need to remember there have been plenty of false dawns before. The power of the hardliners should not be underestimated. That said, everytime they over-react to some event (such as prohibiting the publication of Taheri's letter or beating up students) they lose another piece of power and influence. They have to run out soon.

Regarding the lessons offered by Iran about Islam, I'm not sure to what extent they are transferrable to Arab countries. It is too easy for Sunni militants to dismiss Iran as a Shi'a mistake. Futhermore, it is conceivable that people in desperate economic and political situations are more amenable to militant promises of the good life. Still, the main lesson offered by Iran is that concepts such as the Velayat Faqih do not make for good public policy irrespective of the religious attractions.

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