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Rafsanjani’s disqualification from Iranian presidential race stuns Tehran
Question of the Day
From May 11 to 21, the prospect of these elections among those in their 20s and 30s had shifted from pronounced apathy to a kind of cautious excitement. I heard people describe Ayatollah Rafsanjani as “great,” as “noble-intentioned,” even as a figure whose legacy could be “the saving of the Islamic republic for posterity.”
This, of a man who had long been ridiculed as not only the richest person in Iran but as one of the country’s most corrupt.
However, this seemingly new found respect for the veteran pragmatist is not surprising. Iranians’ main concern at the moment is obviously the economy. People from all walks of life have seen their purchasing power drop dramatically over the past two years. Unemployment and inflation are out of control
Ayatollah Rafsanjani is credited more than any other individual for reviving the Iranian economy after the devastation from the war with Iraq. There was talk that the Bazaari merchant class was solidly behind him. The day he announced his candidacy, the currency appreciated by 3 percent to 5 percent in a matter of hours.
Whether he would have been able, as president, to actually do anything to seek rapprochement with the West and ease the sanctions is anyone’s guess.
But the disappointment among those who planned to vote for him is clear.
Parvis, 26, is unemployed, but he has an master’s degree in political science. “[Ayatollah Khamenei] is not even willing to allow a contest. He’s not even willing to go through the facade anymore. It’s just the ayatollahs and the [Revolutionary] Guards. That’s all that’s left. Our country belongs to them.”
Others were simply shocked.
Danyal, 30, who says he never had any intention of voting for anybody, asked, “What excuse do they have? That he’s old? He’s only a few years older than Khamenei. Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani is so old he can’t even walk, and he’s one of the most powerful people in the country.”
Of course, there are those who are delighted that the wily 78-year-old Ayatollah Rafsanjani will not be given any air time.
“He loves the West, everything about it. He would sell Iran’s nuclear technology to Israel if there was profit in it for him,” quipped Rostam, a jocular employee at one of Iran’s conservative daily newspapers.
“He says we are not at war with Israel. Then who is killing our nuclear scientists? Who is stopping us from selling our oil? He just wants to be popular with America. He thinks he’ll win a Nobel Peace Prize like Obama.”
There is certainly no chance of that now.
• Brendan Daly is a pseudonym to protect the reporter against government reprisals.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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