Friday, July 17, 2009

Did Rafsanjani cede the key point?

Muhammad Sahimi at Tehran Bureau believes that Rafsanjani's sermon at Friday prayers earlier today "is bound to reinvigorate the democratic movement" because Rafsanjani implicitly validated the people's doubt in the election results and "demonstrated the glaring fissures in the leadership of the Islamic Republic."

True enough. But to an outsider reading a rushed transcript, it also seems that Rafsanjani effectively gave up on challenging the election results. Rather, he seemed to call for effectively palliating the wronged electorate by granting fredom of assembly and freedom of speech without offerng the possiblity that those acts would yield any concrete change. That is, he called for freeing the prisoners, consoling the mourners, and freeing the media instead of addressing their grievances with action. Below, I've highlighted what seems to me the key pivot in the political part of the speech.
The most important thing that has happened is that the trust that brought the people to vote in such large number is not there anymore.
We need to return this trust.
We all need to follow the law. And I’m talking about the government, the parliament, the Islamic Courts and the security forces.
We need to follow the laws.
All problems can be solved if we only follow the framework of the laws.
We need to create an environment where all sides could come together and discuss their issues.
We need to be able to sit down like brothers and sisters and talk about our differences.
The chance that was given to the Guardian Council of five days to get people together and regain their trust was not used.
That is not there anymore.
But we still have time to unite.

We shouldn’t imprison our own people,
We should let these people return to their homes,
We shouldn’t let our enemies laugh at us because we’ve imprisoned our own people.
We should sit together with mourners,
And we should console them,
And bring them back closer to the system.
We should not be impatient now.

Please do not censor media outlets that have legally obtained permits.
Let them do what they want to do legally.
Allow a peaceful and friendly environment to prosper.
We are all together in the Islamic Revolution,
We’ve all spent years in suffering,
We’ve all given martyrs for the cause of the revolution,
This unity needs to fostered.

I’m hopeful that we will be able to achieve this unity in the future,
And I’m hopeful we will get out of this situation,
Based on the wishes of the people,
And consensus among the leaders.

Rafsnajani, like Mousavi, claims that theocracy and republicanism, are the twin pillars of the Islamic Republic:
this is a theocracy,
A theocratic republic.
(People chanting)
Be patient, be calm.
If the government is not Islamic, then we are heading no where.
If it is not a republic, then it doesn’t amount to anything..
Effectively, though, a theocratic republic seems to give the people democracy when they agree with the theocrats. Rafsnajani calls at the end for unity, for consensus among the leaders. But the "chance" squandered by the Guardian Council, charged with investigating the announced election results that they subsequently rubber-tamped, "is not there any more." So where does that leave Iranians? Rafsanjani has no answer.

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