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The Rise of Militarism in Iran

21 May 2005
There is a view now amongst Western writers and shared by some Iranian journalists that the actual issue behind the current presidential elections, and the recent parlamentarian elections, is the rise of militarism. Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute on Near East Policy, a right-wing think tank, writes: "Nearly all of the important political figures to date—reformers and hardliners alike—came from the 1979 revolutionary generation. By contrast, many of the hardliners elected to the Majlis last year were new political faces from the 1980–88 Iran-Iraq war generation (to which the rest of the candidates openly appeal)." William Samii discusses the same trend in the Weekly Standard. Indeed key political positions have already been taken over by members of the Revolutionary Guards. Last year, Ezatollah Zarghami was named chief of national television and radio chief, a key political position in Iran which, prior to Zarghami, was held by Ali Larijani, one of the key conservative presidential candidates this year. Furthermore, the closure of Iran's new international airport by the Revolutionary Guard, justified on the basis that the involvement of a Turkish consortium represents a threat to national security and prestige, has been viewed by many commentators as the Revolutionary Guards greatest demonstration of power. Particularly, given that the company which lost the contract bid to build the airport to the Turkish consortium allegedly has close ties to the Revolutionary Guards. Needless to say, the Revolutionary Guards have a favored candidate in these elections, Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad. Ahmadinezhad is supported by the Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran, a conservative party which dominated the recent parliamentarian elections by winning almost all of Tehran's seats. Assuming this trend to continue, one would expect that Iranian foreign policy begin to reflect current militarist perspectives in Israel This would mean the expansion of unilateralism, alarmism, political conservatism, and authoritarianism. Even where a reformist candidate were to be elected, given the limited powers allocated to the president, if the election were to demonstrate the infiltration of militarism in the conservative party, rather then pragmatism, it is more likely then not that Iran's economic and political reform process will collapse altogether.

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