Friday, June 17, 2005

"Hold the boos for Khatami"

In today's edition of the International Herald Tribune, a lucid and dispassionate assessment of Khatami's tenure as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Excrept:

Hold the boos for Khatami
By Ray Takeyh, International Herald Tribune

FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2005

WASHINGTON As President Mohammad Khatami of Iran prepares to leave office, his tenure is routinely being described as an utter failure.

Khatami neither realized his goal of ushering in an Islamic democracy, nor did he succeed in normalizing relations with the United States. As with most things in Iran, however, the reality is much more complex than a cursory look would indicate. A judicious assessment of Khatami's tenure would give him credit for some major accomplishments.

Despite the power of hard-line clerics and Iran's factionalized politics, Khatami managed to engineer a transformation that no previous politician or movement had achieved. The reformers' electoral triumphs realigned Iran's politics by making the public the indispensable actor of the nation's future.

The hard-liners may have imprisoned reformers and shuttered newspapers, but they could not prevent the Iranian people from asserting their rights and demanding a voice in the deliberations of the state. They could send vigilantes to break up student demonstrations, but they could not long constrain the restive ambitions of Iran's post-revolutionary generation, who make up 85 percent of its population.

Khatami's advocacy of civil society and rule of law led the Iranians to believe that they have rights that cannot be infringed. Should the political process remain unresponsive, this sentiment is likely to assert itself through protest and defiance.

To read the full text of the article, click here.

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