Iranian ex-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani Dies Aged 82

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Scepticalscribe, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #1
    The death - as a result of a stroke - has been reported of the former President of Iran, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

    A subtle and sophisticated political leader, seen as a "pragmatic conservative", and a natural practitioner of the arts and artifices of politics and power, Mr Rafsanjani was regarded as a moderate within the administrative, political and power structures of post revolutionary Iran.

    He served as President of Iran between 1989 and 1997 (and was succeeded by President Khatami, a moderate) but was subsequently defeated by Mr Ahmadinejad when he sought to run again in 2005.

    More recently, he has been viewed as a warm supporter of the current relatively reformist President of Iran, Mr Rouhani.

    Personally, I regret the passing of any leader who has been known to hold moderate views, that is, moderate views of the kind that might infer that the world is a somewhat more complicated place than some sages, prophets and indeed economists and pollsters might suggest, and that, as consequence, those who are of the opinion that alternative paths to salvation might possibly exist need not necessarily be slaughtered for so speculating.

    RIP Mr Rafsanjani.
     
  2. thewitt macrumors 68020

    thewitt

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    #2
    The President in Iran has virtually no power, under their Constitution. He's a diplomatic figurehead without policy control.

    The Supreme Leader controls foreign and domestic policy, the military, security and intelligence forces, television and radio, and he alone can declare war or peace.

    He alone appoints and dismisses judges and seats half of the 12 member Council of Guardians, who determine who can run for public office.

    The President controls economic policy, where it doesn't conflict with any of the items above.

    The Ayatollah is the true leader in Iran.
     
  3. phrehdd, Jan 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017

    phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #3
  4. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #4
    He was a pistachio farmer, if I recall correctly.
     
  5. LizKat macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    ... consider what the OP actually wrote about Rafsanjani. In fact he was a moderating influence on Iranian politics and he will be missed by reformists.... and by those in the West who hope to see Iran evolve eventually into a more constructive regional player. The role of former president in Iran does carry some weight in formulation of policy by the clerics (assuming one doesn't mess up as Ahmadinejad did), and Rafsanjani's private remarks to the ayatollahs likely helped make the Iran agreement with the west more palatable and therefore possible.
     
  6. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    LizKat, I fear by responding that I'll appear overly critical of your post or you, yourself. That will not be my intent. I'll say that he was not a "moderate" by OUR working definition and certainly was not desiring to do anything with the West other than to further Iran's advantage when and where possible under the final rule of the ayatollahs and their interpretation of how Iran was to follow the Qu'ran. Liz, do you have any experience in the Middle East or near by such as Iran? Were you around with the times of Iran previous to the ayatollah regimes as Iran's real rulers? If not, then I urge you to get more data on exactly just how "moderate" this individual was within Iran including treatment of non-muslims, his take on how arabs are beneath Iranians in every way possible and of course, his intense hatred towards both Jewish people and some native religions such as Zoroastrian (think Freddy Mercury).
     
  7. sorcery macrumors regular

    sorcery

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    #7
    I would say he was moderate in comparison to other Iranian political figures in the region, not in comparison to their peers in the western world. Having lived and worked in the region, for forty years, I did notice that the middle class, university educated, Iranians to be a lot less xenophobic or tribal than their Arab, Afghan or Pakistani counterparts.
     
  8. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Much of that might be due to the time of the Shah which generated secular values, promoted education and was "Western" friendly. I am sure someone will comment on the negatives of the Shah but the point remains that the more tolerant and open minded Persians/Iranians come from that time and NOT from the new closed system of the ayatollahs.
     
  9. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #9
    The Shah effectively replaced a democratically elected government. He was friendly toward the West, because we effectively put him there. It's weird to commend that sort of behavior, which ultimately backfired. It's effectively the West's fault that the Ayatollah is in power today. I suspect it'll eventually fade, because it's a mismatch. Their population doesn't seem incredibly religious, yet they have strong theocratic elements in their government.
     
  10. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #10
    I did not speak of how the Shah rose to power but what happened during his reign. Every modern advance came with the Shah. As for his undoing, that was indeed the fault of the West. They let the Ayatollah remain free outside of Iran to do the muslim rally for a revolution a la jihad (sound familiar?) and as well Jimmy Carter didn't have the experience or brains to understand the ramifications of allowing the Shah to fall. Thekev, I appreciate your comment and civil response here. Just forgive me if I appear overly pragmatic when it comes to matters of that region.
     
  11. Scepticalscribe, Jan 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2017

    Scepticalscribe thread starter Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #11
    Some interesting posts: Thank you, @LizKat and @sorcery, for your comments, and thank you, too, @phrehdd for your posts.

    Now, as to personal knowledge of this world: I have worked in a number - four to date - of Muslim countries - which range from the truly dystopian to those that were once secular and have been blinking as they emerged from civil wars - or revolutions - into a changed world; come to think of it - all four have had revolutions, wars, civil wars, and have experienced peaceful - and exceptionally non-peaceful - as in revolutionary - regime change.

    Now, none of these were - or are - Middle eastern countries, but Iran would not view itself as 'middle eastern' either, not least because of the glories of its Persian past, or its allegiance to the Shi'ia school, or branch, of Islam.

    In recent years, a number of colleagues of mine have visited Iran, and all report that the society and political culture is a lot more complex, nuanced and subtle than seems to be readily appreciated in some western sources.

    Having said that, firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has taken a civil tone - and treated the topic seriously - in this thread so far. I appreciate that, and am grateful for it, especially given the intemperate tone in which much political discussion and debate is - and has been conducted on - these threads in recent months, some of which are an absolute disgrace.

    My own background is that of an academic historian and specialist in political stuff who has strayed into public service in recent years.

    Meanwhile, my comments about Mr Rafsanjani and his perceived moderation have to be taken in the context of Iranian society.

    Far too often, when commenting on countries with weak institutions, an ambiguous attitude to questions of what constitutes the rule of law, and what should be governed by the rule of law, a lack of democratic traditions (or, in the specific case of Iran under Mr Mossadegh in 1953, a country with strangled-at-birth democratic traditions), and a long history of autocracy or authoritarianism, we in the west all too often casually condemn them for not meeting our standards.

    The problem with this is two-fold: Firstly, and this point is not missed by many of those with whom we deal, negotiate with, and encounter in such countries - and who tend to view us as monstrous and outrageous hypocrites as a consequence, - we do not always adhere to those standards we claim to uphold and supposedly believe in ourselves - the absolute scandal of Guantanamo - among others - is an enduring testament to that.

    And secondly, it is fairer to judge these societies by the yardstick of their own history, recent and less recent, than by whether they adhered to our standards.

    Seeking to apply western standards to Iran is especially egregious as the west was thoroughly complicit in the disgraceful and shameful overthrow of one of the few leaders - Mr Mossadegh - who had ever been elected in a genuinely free and fair and democratic election in the Muslim world.

    By the standards of post revolutionary Iran, Mr Rafsanjani was a moderate, and that is something to be welcomed.

    With regard to the Shah, it is far too easy to lay the blame at the feet of Mr Carter; the picture is much more complicated than that, and goes back, firstly, to how the Shah came to exercise and hold power - this cannot be overlooked in the light of later events.

    At the time, - that is 1978-1979 - much western hope was centred on the 'moderate' secular opposition, individuals such as Mr Bakhtiar, and later, Mr Bani-Sadr. Hardly anyone foresaw that Mr Khomeini would emerge as the most powerful and influential individual in the country.

    Indeed, in a lesson we have failed to absorb - and learn from - on countless occasions - democracy as we understand it cannot take root in regimes where we have helped secular autocrats imprison, murder, or exile those who support democratic values, the rule of law and the accountability of state actors, and - because of this - that vacuum will be filled by the sole remaining outlet for dissent, which will often take the form of religious scholars who articulate opposition to a regime some have come to detest.

    The challenge for the Shah - and for anyone seeking to set about implementing social, cultural, economic and political change in such societies is to find a way for Islam itself to be seen as the engine for change, and being the means of managing change; otherwise, such social changes as occur - while benefitting urban elites, and the educated urban middles class - will be seen as imposed from 'outside', and rejected as such by conservative religious scholars, especially those with influence in rural parts of the country that still define their identity in terms of adherence to what they think is "tradition".
     
  12. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Scepticalscribe - we will disagree on some matters related to Iran and yes, I do blame Carter for a great deal of the problems with respect to a primarily Muslim nation being rallied (yet again) for yet another lower/lesser jihad call. - The very one that was instigated and put the banished Ayatollah in power. As for how culture must change - we look no further than the actual measured advances under the Shah (with or without the later years corruption). We may also see a parallel of the modernization of Turkey under Ataturk. Both the Shah and Ataturk "forced" modernization in their respective nations and some of it appeared quite contrary to du jour Muslim culture of their time. Education, infrastructure, modernization via technology, and the list remained long.

    Where you and I may agree is that often we would reflect upon our own society, traditional Western values and more when we engage in the use of certain words such as "moderate." Perhaps it would be wise to have included that Iran uses the word differently than we do and thus, not potentially mislead by omission.

    Speaking of culture relative viewpoints - I admit I consider none of the "leaders" of Iran to be moderate when they must submit to the will of ayatollahs and both continued a keen desire to destroy another nation (Israel), force strict Muslim cultural affectations upon its own people (a la their brand of Shariah) and more. Let's also consider they are all happy with the notion that a Jew and a Christian may normally vote but ONLY for a Muslim candidate. A Muslim may only vote for a Muslim candidate as well. Last - what we can agree upon is that he as pragmatic when it came to certain economic principles and strengthening of institutions that forced the military to remain subservient (remain powerful but unable to overthrow).
     

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