Mohammad Khatami, foremost figure in Iranian reformist camp, has been put under new restrictions by the order of special prosecutor for clericals (Ebrahim Raisi) since September 23.
Restricting Khatami can apparently be understood after the brawl of authoritarians [in Iran] against his sitting with Ali Larijani and head of IRIB in a funeral ceremony.
At first look, authoritarians try to decrease Khatami’s social and political popularity and stance by “erasing the question” and preventing individuals and legal entities from meeting with him. And by pushing him to the margin, they seek to give this message to the main body of their own supporters that they still have the power to oppress and control trends.
From a different angle, what has happened is intrinsic to the essential nature and orientation of extreme right. This current has totalitarian and coercive approaches and doesn’t understand reconciliation and compassion. As such, imposing intensified restrictions and putting pressure on Khatami by extreme right is predictable and is the outcome of their oppressive view.
But the issue is not limited to these two levels. In addition to the short-term reaction of authoritarians to publication of photos of [political figures] sitting with Khatami and attempt at redefining his political weight and credibility, as well as extreme right’s revenge from Khatami for his effective role in 2017 presidential election, authoritarians are giving this message to reformists that they still have the control over the political arena.
With issuing sentences against 7 reformist activists and also imposing a restriction against Khatami, the extreme right is warning the reformists not to be optimistic about political development in Rouhani’s second government. It is a serious warning in order to restrict reformists in civil society and preventing their increasing mobility during the establishment of Rouhani’s second government.
On another level, with their recent harassment and threats, extreme right coerces reformists and moderates to cut their own demands.
While in recent weeks, there were news about the possible gradual change in conditions of Green Movement’s leaders, and while some new efforts and follow-ups were underway for reducing limitations against Mousavi, Karroubi, and Rahnavard, now reformists must think of a solution for unofficial house arrest of Khatami. Meanwhile, it was expected that in Rouhani’s second government, the ban on photo and news of the foremost figure of reformists would come to an end.
In other words, like most other cases, extreme right’s think tank actively defines a project to expand and achieve its totalitarian goals and then would implement it with its own institutional capacities.
This happens when the other side (the reformist camp) has become mostly happy with the establishment of the moderate government, satisfied with success in city councils’ election, and still thinks about election tactics and junctures. A significant part of activists who are in line with this camp have been clinging to bureaucratic bodies, the executive branch, and municipalities. And what is almost missing is activities in civil society.
In addition to what has been said so far, extreme right with its recent measure creates a new wave of despair towards the success of Rouhani’s government. While a considerable part of voters for Rouhani have been dissatisfied and have even lost hope because of his inattention to women, Sunnites and youth, and his failure in removing house arrest of leaders of Green Movement, now Khatami too has been targeted.
If this condition doesn’t face serious reaction of Rouhani, Jahangiri, the government of moderation, and Omid Fraction in the Parliament, it will have more negative fallout. The president’s first reaction (in the inauguration ceremony of the academic year for universities and higher education centers which were held in Tehran University) was not promising. Rouhani didn’t even mention Khatami’s name.
If the head of executive branch doesn’t take any immediate, serious measure, the ideal of the extreme right (more fallout in social body of supporters of moderate government) will come true. Such condition will have negative consequences for the executive branch in the political power structure and will undermine and weaken its position, particularly in post-JCPOA conditions.
But above all, I believe that new measure of extreme right and making Khatami more restricted must be assessed on a larger scale, where serious competition and dispute is going on among main currents within the political power structure.
It seems that this challenge is more in relation to tomorrow of Iranian Republic than its today – a challenge tied with the issue of the day after of the death of the second leader of Iran.
Proposing the issue of changing government system in Iran from presidential to parliamentarian, continuous appearance of Raisi in security news agencies, extensive propaganda for head of judiciary branch, harsh position of IRGC senior officials, strong criticisms against Ali Larijani by extreme right’s platforms, issuing sentences against 7 reformists, creating judiciary cases on pretext of confronting economic corruptions and new restrictions against Khatami – all these have particular meaning, and must be thought about in the shadow of abovementioned dispute.
In other words, perhaps one can see the abovementioned events as volcanic peaks bearing signs of eruptions and very significant, extensive interaction within the establishment and political power structure.
If advocates of democracy and activists in civil society do not go beyond passive patience at the time of oppression and terror or beyond reactionary and critical measures in social networks, and if they do not think of any serious measures for junctures ahead, extreme right will act more recklessly for increasing political obstruction and oppression in current time and for realizing its ideals.
Opinions in this article reflect the writer’s point of view, not necessarily the view of The Arabain GCIS