Published: Tue, May 23, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

UAE minister sees chance for Iran to reset 'troubled' ties with neighbors

Together with that came unemployment and the slow pace of change.

"They are exhausted from 40 years of conservatives' management style", said Soroush Farhadian, a Tehran-based political analyst who backs reformists. Attempts were even made to fly more ballot papers to Istanbul, where voting was said to be 20 times higher than it was in the 2013 election. They choose mayors and decide on budgets and development projects, as well as oversee local cultural and religious activities.

In reality, Iran's election on Friday was a charade. The conservatives are animated by a desire to maintain their grip on Iran's state-dominated economy; a preference for pious managers over technocrats; aversion to globalism; a proclivity to align Iran with Russian Federation (and China) against the West, especially the U.S.; persistent pursuit of Shia power by expanding Iran's support for the likes of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah in Lebanon; antipathy toward cultural openness; and persistent misogyny. "Which is why the Saudis will be appalled that a (comparatively) reasonable Iranian has won a (comparatively) free election that nearly none of the 50 dictators gathering to meet Trump in Riyadh would ever dare to hold", he writes at the Independent.

Thousands of others gathered at Tehran's central Vali-e Asr Square, shouting political slogans and calling for the release of former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi; his wife, Zahra Rahnavard; and Mehdi Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament. In Tehran, for example, the reformist slate won every seat, ensuring that the current mayor - himself a conservative presidential candidate - will soon be out of a job.

Hakkı Uygur, head of the Ankara-based Center for Iranian Studies (IRAM) told Daily Sabah, "Rouhani will continue implementing his policies to open Iran up to the world and bring an end to sanctions. He also picked a rare public fight with hardliners close to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, angrily criticizing their favorite in the race, Ebrahim Raisi, a judge seen by reformists as representing the security state at its most fearsome". In April, the Trump administration certified that Iran was abiding by its obligations but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson added that a 90-day policy review would be undertaken in view of "Iran's alarming ongoing provocations".

This is certainly not the only way to interpret the election results.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps wields vast economic and paramilitary power within Iran and constitutes the vanguard of Iran's export of terrorism overseas. However, councils weren't implemented until reformist President Mohammad Khatami took power in the 1990s, following a series of riots across small towns and cities in Iran over local control. In Iran's theocratic political system, elections advance the interests of mullahcracy, not democracy. While authorities have blocked women from running for president, female councilors are common on municipal councils.

"The people know. That without competition on the basis of quality, not on the basis of political or security power, that our economy can not progress", he said. In 2016, there were 19 "incidents at sea" between USA and Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf.

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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