Friday, August 6, 2010

Would Ahmadinejad's assassination have changed anything in Iran?



By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network


The recent reports of an assassination attempt on the life of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - denied by the Iranian government - raised the specter of what would happen should he meet an untimely demise?

Would things suddenly improve for the Iranian people? Or would another leader take his place following the same policies he has been espousing?

Clearly, if it's true that someone tried to kill Ahmadinejad with a grenade, their intent would be to remove from power the man who symbolizes oppression of the Iranian people. But an Iranian expert at Columbia University says, hypothetically, should someone successfully kill Ahmadinejad, the results could be the exact opposite of the intent.

"Evidently there was no assassination attempt, or if there was the regime is underplaying it," says Iranian studies professor Hamid Dabashi. "And fortunately so, because any major act of violence at this point is bound to radicalize the regime, militarize its security apparatus even further, and push Iran further to the edge of abyss."

This all raises another question. Who is really in charge in Iran? The answer, says Dabashi, is a bit complicated.

Iran, he says, is controlled by, "a combination of forces that includes the office of presidency but is not limited to that office."

Anyone who is a true student of Iran knows, Dabashi says, that it's hard to pinpoint anyone or any entity as being solely in charge.

"The nature of leadership in the Islamic Republic from its very inception has been intentionally amorphous," he says. "Nobody is in full, constitutionally mandated, control."

There are those observers who have suggested that the Revolutionary Guard has seized seized control. Dabashi says that while it is true that the Guard has consolidated power - it doesn't mean it is pulling the strings in Tehran.

"Yes they have expanded the domain of their political and economic power," Dabashi says, "but that does not mean they are fully in charge either."

All this makes one wonder whether Ahmadinejad's frequent provocative statements are to be taken seriously. As with everything else in Iran, Dabashi says, the answer is not simple.

"He speaks for himself, but the amorphous power structure uses those statements to test the water," he explains.

On the one hand, Dabashi says, it would be wrong to assume that Ahmadinejad is a mere spokesperson for a power structure. Nor is he, the professor says, a stooge of the Supreme Leader or of the Revolutionary Guard.

"He has his populist base of power," Dabashi says.

Another president would present a different demeanor, as did Khatami or Rafsanjani, and as would have Mousavi. But the real thought process at the top, he says, is, hazy. "The cumulative wisdom of various forces and interest at the time."

Seemingly, this all means that anyone who speaks in absolutes about what the leadership is thinking, probably doesn't know what he or she is talking about. Which undoubtedly makes the task of predicting what Iran may or may not do very difficult for other nations that are keeping wary eyes on Tehran.

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