Less than a month since the formation of the national assembly to accomplish “national reconciliation” or “national rescue” and each of the two major political groups that have been the key actors in the country has presented its own plan and campaign for the eight Majlis elections in March 14, 2008, in the hope of wooing the public to vote for it. While many in the country looked up to the reformists to come up with a plan to instigate change in the country, they launched their “national reconciliation” initiative, hardliners are now trying to make a similar claim and portray themselves to be the force for national reconciliation.
The argument was that under the current grave conditions which are the results of Velayate Faghih (leadership b y a cleric) style management, the impotence and ineffectiveness of the government, lack of independence of the Majlis, Majlis deputies who represent the government rather than the public, inflation, unemployment, poverty, corruption, prostitution, etc, and even the possibility of another war, requires that a program aimed at the eight Majlis elections and the next presidential elections aimed at unseating Ahmadinejad’s administration could be the solution by reducing the unlimited authority in the country. There is evidence to suggest that the measures of a small group of conservative Majlis deputies suggests that at least a faction insides the hardline group is willing to stand next to the anti-dictatorial group, along with the reformist, side by side with a group of conservatives and moderates.
The fact is that the critical conditions and circumstances facing the country and the numerous warnings that have been made by individuals and groups across the Iranian political spectrum, have opened a national debate or discussions about the current grim conditions. Politicians and statesmen such as Khatami, Rafsanjani, Nategh Nouri, Hashemi Shahrudi, among others, have publicly joined this groups and warned of the dangers of the current course of events in Iran with national and strategic consequences, turning the issue into a “national rescue” mission.
At the other end of the spectrum, the hardline movement which planned and directed the para-military group that supports the current Administration, and which is fearful that the current political balance may change to its detriment, is attempting to hijack the “national reconciliation” initiative, using the national radio and television system, Friday prayer sermons, and other available public tools. The purpose of these groups is to survive the current and growing domestic opposition it faces, which primarily comes from the reformers and those advocating major fundamental changes in the political structure of the country. National reconciliation is usually a term used to after a revolution, a civil war or a brutal clash of forces which is rapidly and uncontrollably moving the nation towards a precipice. Sometimes it is also used against an imminent foreign threat. In the last decade, this notion was used in recent years was when the reformists in Iran won the presidential elections through Mohammad Khatami in 1997. But subsequent events such as unexpected response from the Supreme Leader and the hardliners, lead to the abandonment of this movement. Even the slogan of “Iran for all Iranians” did not succeed in its goal of mobilizing the masses against the encroachment or practices of the authoritarian hardliners. This initiative had true national objectives, while its ultimate goals were not confined to Iranians inside the country only and included all Iranians outside the country as well.
So at a time when the hardliners have launched their own initiative to confront the “national reconciliation” drive by the reformers, it is time for individuals and groups to welcome the reformers’ calls and join hands with them. They should ask who do they want to reconcile with and whether “national” means all Iranians or just a self-selected group. They should understand whether the interests that are being debated are personal and factional, or truly national.
Is it possible to call for “national reconciliation” while working to limit candidates to forthcoming elections through elected bodies? Is it possible to advocate “national reconciliation” while limiting the work of political parties and groups in disseminating knowledge and mobilizing the masses to remain politically active? Is it possible to talk of “national Reconciliation” while shutting down independent newspapers and arresting journalists and sending them to prison? Is it possible to call for “national Reconciliation” while imprisoning those who are active in defending human rights, the rights of the minorities, etc?
If all the hardliners want to do is use this slogan for propaganda and campaign purposes and change the political atmosphere, then it would be best if they left the nation alone to determine their goals and objectives and let them move on.