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February 28, 2016 8:43 pm

Iran Expert: Election Results Signify Victory of ‘Bad Over Worse’ (INTERVIEW)

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Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot. Photo: Wikipedia.

Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot. Photo: Wikipedia.

Because the Iranian elections were engineered prior to the day when they actually took place, the choice for voters was extremely limited, an expert on the subject told The Algemeiner on Sunday.

Pooya Dayanim, the California-based president of the Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee (IJPAC), was responding to the results of Friday’s elections for the Majlis (parliament) and Assembly of Experts, which are being touted in Western media outlets as a “victory for the reformists.”

Dayanim, an Iranian Jew who has lived in the United States for the past 31 years, explained to The Algemeiner that the two elections have to be broken down and analyzed separately.

“Those for the parliament can be construed as a victory for more pragmatic-minded candidates. However, even they have carefully not characterized themselves as reformists. Instead, they call themselves pragmatists or independents,” he said. “Furthermore, you have to realize that of the 3,000 candidates who applied to run for the 290-seat parliament, only 30 were approved by the Council of Guardians; the rest were disqualified for not possessing the necessary revolutionary credentials.”

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In other words, Dayanim said, “The Council of Guardians eliminated 99 percent of the reformist candidates — those openly identifying with Mohammad Khatami, the last reformist president, who was in office from 1997 to 2005. The people in the [President Hassan] Rouhani and [Khatami predecessor Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani camp, who refer to themselves as independents, pragmatists and deal-makers, are the candidates the media are referring to mistakenly as reformists.”

But, yes, he added, “It is true that they had a huge success in the parliamentary elections, managing to take all the seats in the Tehran province, the most liberal metropolitan province in Iran.”

Still, said Dayanim, “While there are elections in Iran, there is no freedom. Nor were any pro-democracy candidates even allowed to run.” Not only that, he added, but the massive crackdown on anyone opposing the regime has been severe during Rouhani’s tenure. “In fact, twice as many people were executed under Rouhani than under his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

Where the Assembly of Experts – the 86-88-strong body that appoints the regime’s supreme leader — is concerned, Dayanim said, “Again, while you can’t say that the reformists won, you can say that people aligned with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most hardline elements of the regime, with the strictest interpretation of Shiite Islam, lost.”

This becomes much more important, he said, “in light of the fact that the West has completely stopped supporting democracy and opposition groups in Iran, and has increasingly invested in the Iranian economy with the signing of the nuclear deal.”

This, he explained, “is one of the things that folks inside Iran discussed: that if they didn’t participate in the election, they might not have any influence at all. So, faced with the choice of bad and worse, they opted for the bad.”

The final thing Dayanim asserted was that most people outside of Iran, other than those actually studying it and who are aware of its internal workings, “do not grasp that only one third of the Iranian regime is run by elected officials – and even those are pre-screened by the revolutionary Council of Guardians – and the rest is run by shadowy figures.”

“The supreme leader still pulls the strings,” he concluded. “And when he dies, in spite of the outcome of these elections, the Assembly of Experts is going to pick someone just like him.”

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