July 23, 2010

Giants and Giant Killers

It is said that in 1722 A.D., while the last Safavid king spent his time in the Harem courting his many wives and concubines, Afghans orchestrated an attack on Iran led by an afghan commander called Mahmoud. It took almost 16 years for an Iranian hero, Nader, to rise and defeat Afghans. Even though the rise of so-called Napoleon of Persia was promising, with his various invasions of Indian territories bringing some invaluable treasures to Iran, his last years was an absolute catastrophe. Nader, who was once admired as a giant-killer, became a cruel giant himself. A new giant killer was needed to remove him from power.

In Iran’s history, the story of giants and giant-killers is not limited to the old times. This pattern is of a fractal nature, extending across many inter- and intra-regime changes. Despite a few exceptions, almost all regime changes in Iran might be considered examples of this pattern.

In terms of intra-regime changes, Rafsanjani-Ahmadinejad struggle is an interesting chapter of today Iran’s politics. Rafsanjani, pragmatic post-war president of Iran whose main motto was ‘reconstruction,’ believed in a capitalist philosophy. As expected, his semi-capitalist reconstruction was not pain-free. Consequences of that period, including increasing gap between haves and have-nots, made people feel as if a giant was formed. To some of the supporters of the Miracle of Third Millennium [1], Ahmadinejad is the new giant killer and he has been successful so far in defeating Rafsanjani in public performance and attracting masses, even though Rafsanjani’s team is still of a considerable influence in Iran’s politics. (You may skip following three paragraphs which describe one of the fronts of Rafsanjani-Ahmadinejad war and read the concluding paragraph.)

The recent struggle over controlling Islamic Azad University (IAU), which is perhaps one of the most important privately-run enterprises in today Iran, is a front of proxy war of power between Ahmadinejad, represented by High Council of Cultural Revolution (HCCR), and Rafsanjani, represented by IAU Board of Founders.

IAU was first founded by a group of revolutionary figures including Ayatollah Khamenei (then president of Iran who later resigned from his position in IAU), Ayatollah Rafsanjani (then parliament spokesman), Mir Hosein Mousavi (then premier of Khamenei administration), etc. Due to limited capacity of public university, its mission as a private enterprise was to provide higher education for those talents which could not ‘conquer’ difficult entrance exam of public universities. By opening many branches in almost every province and major metropolitan area of Iran, it turned into a prosperous institute with a huge amount of working capital and assets. IAU currently serves around 1,350,000 students and offers undergraduate and graduate programs. With a stable management, IAU turned into a camp for moderate politicians and Rafsanjani supporters. As expected, conservatives couldn’t tolerate it and tried to contain it. Ahamdinejad’s election was a suitable time, so they resorted to HCCR which is supposed to manage higher education institutes to achieve their goal.

10 months ago, in a preemptive act, AIU Board approved a bill which earmarked IAU as a devoted public charity, which, according to current laws, implied that the government could exercise no control over it. Six months ago, HCCR passed a bill aimed at changing statute of IAU and bringing it under the control of the government. HCCR bill replaced some of the IAU Board members, most notably Mir Hossein Mousavi, and set new guidelines for its management. IAU refused to subscribe to new statute. The debate got so hot that the Supreme Leader had to intervene and suspend both bills temporarily so that a ‘close examination of legal issues’ lead to final decision.

AIU-HCCR struggle is just an example of Rafsanjani-Ahmadinejad war. Whether or not the new hero can defeat the old giant is not an issue. The most important concern is that how this cursed circle of ‘Giant Killer-Becomes-Giant’ may come to an end.

[1] “Ahmadinejad: The Miracle of Third Millennium,” Fatemeh Rajabi


akram said...

Now I Know

saei said...

I agree with you but not completely
a 2-term peresident doesn't have enough time to become a Giant.
I think from now it isn't possible to apear a Giant like nader because the iranian society was changed compeletly

meghdad said...

I have just gone through my previous posts and I have noticed that all of them are full of sadness! I could not avoid some of them but at least I could mentioned some good point as well, then you are right I am trying to change my attitude! Happy ramezan in advance

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