The Iranian Parliament recently attempted to impeach President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country's legislative body has revealed. They
were blocked by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who exercises total control
over the country's political institutions. According to the Wall Street Journal,
the Parliament had accused Ahmadinejad of "illegally importing gasoline
and oil, failing to provide budgetary transparency and withdrawing
millions of dollars from Iran's foreign reserve fund without getting
parliament's approval." Despite this, Members of Parliament have begun a motion to openly debate impeaching Ahmadinejad; they have 40 of the required 74 votes to move forward. Here's what this means and what experts say
about Ahmadinejad's--and Iran's--future.
- Part of Backlash Against Subsidy Reductions The Wall Street Journal's Farnaz Fassihi writes,
"The moves against Mr. Ahmadinejad come as the regime faces domestic
pressure over his plans to gradually eliminate subsidies for fuel, food
and utilities from an economy strained by a string of international
sanctions over Tehran's controversial nuclear program. Authorities have
tightened security and arrested members of the opposition to prevent
riots and uprisings in response to the subsidy cuts, which economists
say will drive up inflation."
- The Underlying Political Battle in Tehran Time's Joe Klein explains,
"The most interesting political struggle in Iran isn't between the
Green movement reformers and the conservative establishment. It's
between conservative principalists like Ali Larijani, the speaker of the
Majlis (the Iranian parliament), and hyper-conservatives like President
economic dispute is the most important: the hyper-conservatives, led by
Ahmadinejad have been spending most of the oil revenues to bolster
Iran's poor, which is the source of Ahmadinejad's popularity (I still
believe he might have won the election, if the votes had actually been
counted). The principalists want to invest the oil revenues in building a
stronger infrastructure and a more diverse, advanced economy. With
Iran's economy weakening even before the latest round of U.N. sanctions,
and really suffering now, there will have to be restrictions on the
vast system of government subsidies--on everything from bread to
gasoline--that has kept the working poor afloat.
- After-Shocks from Green Movement Protests? The New York Times' William Yong calls
this "a sign that internal fissures that developed between the
Ahmadinejad government and conservatives in Parliament during last
year’s wave of protests have yet to be closed. ... During the protests
last summer over the disputed election that kept Mr. Ahmadinejad in
office, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and a leading
conservative, was critical of the government’s heavy-handed efforts to
suppress the demonstrations."
- Wide Mistrust of Ahmadinejad as Iranian Economy Buckles The Daily Beast's Reza Aslan writes,
"No one trusts the president on economic matters any longer, not after
his constant and deliberate misrepresentations of the country’s economic
situation. Responding to the rosy government statistic about the health
of the economy that Ahmadinejad continually touts as proof of his
economic stewardship, the Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi spoke
for most Iranians when he said the government figures 'contradict what
people see with their own eyes.' Last September, Rafsanjani publicly
rebuked Ahmadinejad for continuing to treat the sanctions that are
devastating Iran’s economy as, in his words, 'a joke.'"
The Sanctions Are Working The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan puts it plainly: "Part of the mess is due to Ahmadinejad's dictatorial floutng of
parliamentary prerogatives; but part is also due to the remarkably
successful sanctions regime Obama relentlessly put together."
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