Iran, Iraq and Two Shiite Visions
Veteran Middle East reporter Nicholas Blanford writes in the Christian Science Monitor about Grand Ayatollah Sistani and the implications of his movement for Iran. It is a fine, subtly argued piece. I think that if Iraq is able to hold and sustain regular parliamentary elections, with the Shiite clerics mainly concerning themselves with social and moral issues from outside the government, as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani envisages, it could help undermine Khomeinism in Iran. (I also make this argument in this week’s The Nation, but it isn’t online).
The Iranian elections are being held Friday, Feb. 20, but there is widespread apathy and a liberal boycott. The Khomeinists will do well, but will lack legitimacy, and it may be a pyrrhic victory for them. I think President Khatami’s political career is finished. He has no credibility left with anyone. I’d say it is safe to predict a fair amount of turmoil in Iran sometime in the next few years.