Khatami recognizes IGC
According to AFP, Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami met with Interim Governing Council president Jalal Talabani on Monday. In a surprise announcement, Khatami said he recognized the legitimacy of the IGC in Iraq. “We recognise the Iraqi Governing Council and we believe it is capable, with the Iraqi people, of managing the affairs of the country and taking measures leading toward independence,” he said. Since the Supreme Jurisprudent in Iran, Ali Khamenei, just denounced the US in Iraq as worse than Saddam was, this statement demonstrates once again the duality in Iranian government between the reformists and the hardlineras. Khatami’s statement goes beyond even what Najaf’s own Grand Ayatollah, Ali Sistani, has been willing to say (he maintains that only an elected Iraqi government can be legitimate).
Iran is rumored to give money to several figures on the IGC, though, and the statement could be meant to shore up Iran’s favorites on the body. It could also be that Khatami views the IGC, especially the Shiite members such as Ibrahim Jaafari of al-Da`wa, as potential allies for Iran’s reform movement vis-a-vis the hardliners. Even Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, once close to the Iranian theocrats, has at least in public committed to a more democratic sort of government (if only in the short term).