After Rohani’s Election: How Washington Should Engage Iran

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In the wake of Hassan Rohani’s victory in Iran’s presidential election, we offered a roadmap for genuinely constructive U.S. engagement with Tehran in an Op-Ed published in The Hindu (India’s third-largest English-language daily), see here, and, in revised form, in Huffington Post, see here.  As always, we encourage readers to leave comments on these sites as well as here.  We also append our piece below.     

What Rohani’s Election Should Mean for Washington

Friday’s presidential and local council elections in Iran show that the Islamic Republic is far more stable and politically dynamic than Western conventional wisdom commonly acknowledges.  Moreover, the election of Hassan Rohani—who headed the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council for sixteen years and was Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator with the West for much of that period—presents Washington with an opportunity, for Rohani understands the U.S.-Iranian diplomatic agenda in an existential, granular way.  If, though, the Obama administration wants to engage a new Rohani administration effectively, and to put U.S.-Iranian relations on a more positive trajectory, it will need to overhaul U.S. policy in four fundamental ways:  

First, Washington must accept the Islamic Republic as an enduring political entity representing legitimate national interests.  Virtually since the Islamic Republic’s creation out of the Iranian Revolution, American elites have declared it is an illegitimate order, so dysfunctional and despised by its own population as to be at imminent risk of overthrow. 

In reality, the Islamic Republic is a legitimate order for most Iranians living in Iran.  Its animating idea—the ongoing project of integrating Islamist governance and participatory politics—appeals not just in Iran, but to Muslim societies across the Middle East.  Despite decades of military, clandestine, and international economic pressure, it has achieved more progressive developmental outcomes—e.g., in alleviating poverty, delivering health care, expanding educational access, and (yes) improving opportunities for women—than the Shah’s regime ever did, and has done better in these areas than its neighbors (including U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and Turkey). 

The election of Rohani, a moderate conservative, hardly signifies a fundamental challenge to the Islamic Republic (despite the wishful thinking of some who overestimated the Green movement’s significance four years ago).  On the same day that Rohani won the presidency, conservatives took 70 percent of the more than 200,000 local council seats up for grabs across Iran.   

In short, the Islamic Republic isn’t going anywhere.  Even among Iranians who want the Islamic Republic to evolve significantly, most of them still want it to be, at the end of the day, an Islamic Republic of Iran.    

Washington needs to accept this reality if it wants to negotiate productively with Tehran.  Among other things, acceptance would mean calling off the “dirty war” America is conducting against the Islamic Republic—including economic warfare against civilians, threatening secondary sanctions against third countries in violation of U.S. WTO commitments, cyber-attacks, and support for groups doing things inside Iran that Washington elsewhere condemns as “terrorism.” 

When President Richard Nixon took office in 1969, believing it was strategically vital for America to realign relations with the People’s Republic of China, he ordered the CIA to stand down from covert operations in Tibet, and ordered the Seventh Fleet to stop aggressive patrolling in the Taiwan Strait.  Nixon did these things so that when he reached out diplomatically to the Chinese leadership, they would know he was serious. 

The Iranian leadership needs to see comparable steps from President Obama, rather than the farce of Obama’s “dual track” policy, whereby Iran is threatened with the “stick” of open-ended intensification in America’s dirty war if it won’t surrender its internationally-safeguarded nuclear program for the “carrot” of perhaps being allowed to buy airplane spare parts from the West. 

Second, Washington must deal with the Islamic Republic as a system, and stop trying to play Iran’s public against its government.  On a positive note, the White House press statement about the Iranian presidential election refers to Iran by its official name—“Islamic Republic,” something the Obama administration has refused to do since 2009.  But the statement does not congratulate Rohani; it congratulates the Iranian people “for their participation in the political process, and their courage in making their voices heard…against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment.”  Such a posture will not facilitate productive diplomacy afterf Rohani takes office.    

Similarly, Washington should stop looking for Iranian “moderates” who, by U.S. definition, are moderate only because American officials believe they might be willing to subordinate some of Iran’s sovereign prerogatives for more economic ties to the West.  The Clinton administration tried working around Ayatollah Khamenei and dealing only with reformist President Mohammad Khatami during Khatami’s first term.  A decade later, the Obama administration tried working around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and dealing directly with Khamenei.  Every time, the tactic fails—and will fail again if Obama repeats it on a newly inaugurated President Rohani.   

The Islamic Republic was designed to encompass multiple, competitive power centers—e.g., the Supreme Leader, the presidency, parliament.  As Leader, Khamenei has allowed three presidents—Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami, and Ahmadinejad—to pursue very different, self-defined agendas, but has also restrained them when he judged their agendas might weaken the Islamic Republic’s identity and long-term security.  Khamenei’s relationship with President Rohani is likely to play out in similar fashion.  

Washington does not help its cause by trying to manipulate one power center against another.  In Tehran, deciding to realign relations with America will take a consensus—a consensus encompassing both Leader and President.    

Third, Washington must recognize Iran’s legal right, as a sovereign state and as a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to enrich uranium under international safeguards.  As we wrote last month, “If Washington recognized Iran’s right to enrich, a nuclear deal with Tehran could be reached in a matter of weeks”; but “as long as Washington refuses to acknowledge Tehran’s nuclear rights, no substantial agreement will be possible.”  This will be no less true under President Rohani than it has been previously. 

There is a strong consensus in Iran—cutting across the factional spectrum, ratified by Ayatollah Khamenei, and supported by public opinion—that the Islamic Republic should not surrender its nuclear rights.  In this year’s election campaign, Rohani was criticized for his approach to nuclear diplomacy with the West; in 2003-2005, during Rohani’s tenure as nuclear negotiator, Tehran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment for nearly two years, and got nothing from the West in return.  Rohani—who holds advanced degrees in both Islamic law and civil law—vigorously defended his record, arguing that his approach helped Iran avoid sanctions while laying the ground for subsequent expansion of its enrichment infrastructure.  Looking forward, he explicitly committed himself to defending the Islamic Republic’s right to enrich.  There will be no nuclear deal absent U.S. acknowledgement of that right.   

Fourth, Washington must stop cooperating with Saudi Arabia and others to spread violent, al-Qa’ida-like Sunni extremism across the Middle East as part of an ill-conceived strategy for containing Iran.  This strategy is currently on display in Syria, where, from the onset of unrest in 2011, the Obama administration has sought to use an opposition increasingly manned and supported by foreigners to overthrow the Assad government and damage Tehran’s position.   The administration is now stepping up support for the opposition—saying explicitly this is intended to prevent Tehran and its allies from “winning” in Syria.

The Islamic Republic has demonstrated that it can be a constructive partner in fighting the spread of violent Sunni extremism.  By escalating the conflict in Syria, Washington will, first of all, enable the deaths of tens of thousands more Syrians; it will also—as it has done before (e.g., in Afghanistan and Libya)—incubate a long-term security threat to itself and to all countries with an interest in Middle Eastern stability.  The only way out of the Syrian conflict is serious diplomacy that facilitates a political settlement between the Assad government and its opponents.  Iran is critical to achieving this.      

If Washington really wants better relations with Tehran following Rohani’s election, the course is clear.       

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

 

53 Responses to “After Rohani’s Election: How Washington Should Engage Iran”

  1. Smith says:

    Obama does not have it in himself to do such things. Neither does any democrat. Only a Republican can pull these off. A republican with a brain. Indeed a rarity in history. As for Iranians, they will soon find out that US along with its puppets has waged a total war on the PEOPLE of Iran. Furthermore, The People of Iran will realize that this war can only be won if Iran becomes a global nuclear power with substantial home grown economic, technological and scientific capabilities. Even Nixon who had a brain, did not go to China before China had become a nuclear global power with substantial home grown economic, technological and scientific capabilities.

  2. Nariman says:

    Excellent. Well said and thank you.

    Obama will show again that he is NOT A LEADER and he has been installed at the white house to execute a policy toward US world hegemony where NO ONE WILL ACCEPT.

    Frankly, Obama is not interested in American interest, instead, he is for his OWN and his family’s interest, thus, he will sacrifices the interest of America and American people.

    He has been sellected by zionist bankers to wage war not to bring peace. To wage war, you need to demonize the target country and its leaders through LIES AND DECEPTION. Of course you need gullible people, inlcuing liars pose as journalists, and phony ‘intellectuals’ to help you doing this task.

  3. fyi says:

    All:

    Again, not everyone in US is a jingoistic fool – they have good people (who are powerless).

    http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/06/18/the_best_defense_interview_armitage_on_pakistans_tactical_nukes_afghanistans_future

  4. James Canning says:

    I think the political stability etc etc in Iran, shown by the recent election, is a good thing.

  5. James Canning says:

    Nariman,

    Obama continues to be reluctant to get involved militarily in civil war in Syria. Which is a good thing?

  6. James Canning says:

    Smith,

    Nixon went to China in 1972 to gain cover for pulling all US troops out of South Vietnam. China did not have to have nukes to be able to provide that cover.

  7. James Canning says:

    I again recommend James Blitz’s comments in Financial Times online June 18th: “Why the UK is highly unlikely to arm Syrian rebels”.

  8. kooshy says:

    “As Leader, Khamenei has allowed three presidents—Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami, and Ahmadinejad—to pursue very different, self-defined agendas, but has also restrained them when he judged their agendas might weaken the Islamic Republic’s identity and long-term security.”

    According to Iran’s constitution that is what the Leader’s job is, most Iranians (accepting constitution of IRI) fully trust ayatollah Khamenei’s judgment, considering the circumstances in this past 24 majority of Iranians believe he has done a very good job balancing, guiding and safeguarding Iran and Islamic revolution through this tough times, when there have been multiple wars, regime change, and direct foreign threats in and around Iran in this past 24 years.

    One should also keep in mind when ayatollah Khamenei becomes Leader of Islamic revolution of Iran he was rather a low ranking Shieh cleric stepping in place of one of the highest ranking Shieh clerics in history; he was chosen and voted in with the job of safeguarding Islamic revolution and Iran, not an easy task for rather a young cleric seating in place of Imam Khomini, one would need a lot of courage to do that. Being able to achieve his task in this last 24 years without allowing loss of an iota of Iran’s Internal, external and international rights including safeguarding peoples vote, keeping Iran away from wars waged around Iran, mending off external and internal enemies of Iran and balancing different factions of the system who may want to eliminate system’s republicanism, and having enough time to surround yourself with Persian poets, this all it was not and is not an easy task nor anyone claims this was a one man task but it was a task possible only by a wise realistic guiding leader who loves Iran. I salute him.

  9. Nasser says:

    As I said earlier the overarching theme I picked up from Western media was that the Iranians are hurting from Ahmedinejad’s policies and are crying uncle. The hostile Arab media is much less sophisticated in their propaganda, they simply spew hatred and their overarching theme seems to be that the elections are a farce and all power resides with the dictator, Khamenei.

    Views from Iran’s Arab foes:

    http:// alhayat.com/Details/524899

    http:// alhayat.com/Details/524897

    (I wanted to post some other examples but they were so poorly written and the lies in them were so ridiculous that they were difficult to read LOL)

  10. fyi says:

    James Canning says:
    June 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Mr. Obama is the man whose government’s policies brought US and Iran to the verge of war last Spring (2012).

    He is the man whose government is arming jihadists/takfiris to wreck Syria, a country that has done nothing against the United States, in fact, had helped US.

    And now we should be grateful that he is reluctant to order US Armed Forces to directly attack Syria?

    Is he a Roman Imperator and Congress is abdicating the responsibility – under US Constitution – to declare war?

    One could pray to the Almighty that the degeneration has not yet led to more death and destruction but one has no need to express gratitude to Mr. Obama for that.

  11. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    June 18, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    “One could pray to the Almighty that the degeneration has not yet led to more death and destruction but one has no need to express gratitude to Mr. Obama for that.”

    The reason for more death and destruction not yet happened is mostly because of other nations that hold nuclear weapons (China, Russia, India, Pakistan and North Korea). Out of them Russians and Chinese are the most important. If these nations did not exist; US, Britain and France will push the other races to complete slavery. Let’s thank Almighty for having given us these nations that till now have balanced out the beasts.

  12. Nasser says:

    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/06/congress-iran-election-rouhani-skeptical-sanctions.html#ixzz2We7LVpM9

    – An excerpt: (“US pressure is just beginning to pay off,” Deutch said. “We shouldn’t be willing to give up on the pressure” just because the new Iranian president sounds less bellicose than the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.)

    – Boy are these “moderate” Iranians and expats in for a disappointment. Here’s to hoping some of them learn their lesson this time.

  13. M. Ali says:

    The most amusing thing about anti-Iranian analysis on Rohani’s election is how they claim that people voting for Rohani were actually voting against Khamenei and the IRI by extension. Don’t these people stop to think for a second that out of 8 candidates, ROhani was the only cleric, and when HE got the votes, thats sort of a vote for Iran’s Islamic nature.

  14. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    kooshy-jan,
    Excellent point. The Supreme Leader has been a great blessing for Iran. He has steered the ship through this extremely difficult era with great skill, wisdom and akhlaq.

    He has taught Iranians how to be members of this budding Islamic society and polity and he has taught the Muslim of the world how to revitalize Islamic civilization.

    His achievements are on par with that of Imam(r).

    In terms of political tendencies I think it would be appropriate to call the Supreme Leader a “moderate conservative”.

    In fact Roahni is the president that is the most similar to the SL in terms of political views and temperament- compared to the others in his time as SL.

    Let’s not forget they are/were both members of Jame Rohaniyat Mobarez political party and their strategic personality was shaped by the war.

    All things that makes one hopeful for the near future.

  15. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Ahmadinejad meets Rohani to congratulate him in person and to discuss transition.

    Wish Khatami had done that eight years ago.

    The friendly body language speaks a thousand words.

    http://rajanews.com/detail.asp?id=160526

  16. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Supreme Leader congratulates nation and soccer national team.

    http://farsi.khamenei.ir/message-content?id=22959

  17. Don Bacon says:

    Washington professes three main problems it has with Iran, and these form the basis for sanctions. They are: nuclear program, human rights and terrorism — “Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”

    Your engagement roadmap only includes consideration of nuclear but not the other two.

  18. nico says:

    Bussed in bassiji

    Intersting comment about Rohani line being similar to Khamenei.

    Do you think it is possible Rohani would become the next SL ?

    Not that I hope it will happen anytime soon.

    But if I remember well, Khamenei was elected president befor being SL.

  19. Nasser says:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0618/Syrian-rebels-cling-to-enclave-in-eastern-Lebanon?nav=87-frontpage-entryNineItem

    An excerpt: “We will never make peace with Hezbollah,” says Abu Mohammed. “We will never forgive nor forget. They have killed our people. Even after Assad is gone, we will continue to go after the Party of the Devil. I would release four Alawite prisoners for the pleasure of killing one Shiite. They will remain our enemy forever.”

  20. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Guardian Council confirms election results.

    http://farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13920329001319

  21. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    nico,
    Rohani is 64 years old, SL is 72 years old, way too early to talk about “the next SL”.

    You know these akhunds, they last forever…mashallah!

    Remember SL was 48 years old when appointed.

    Appointing a younger faqih worked well, Assembly of Experts will probably look to do something similar next time…inshallah many, many years from now.

  22. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    If Iran were friendly toward Israel, how much noise and smoke would we see emitting from Washington, about “human rights” in Iran?

  23. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    Interesting piece by Barbara Slavin that you linked. She quotes Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: “We need to . . . help our allies to see the light that a nuclear Iran will destroy the US and will destroy Israel.”

    Amazing. Or maybe not? She is an aggessive neocon warmonger, and keen on sanctions against Cuba and Iran. And she is Jewish, and from Florida.

  24. James Canning says:

    Smith,

    You apparently are not aware of the giant prisons run by the Soviet Union? Of the tens of millions of Russians and Chinese that died, due to policies of Communist governments of USSR and China?

    You have a great deal of difficulty comprehending that Russia and China both want Iran to stop enriching to 20 percent.

  25. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The Financial Times reports today that Parliament is unlikely to allow British military support for the insurgents in Syria. A good thing, surely.

    Has the US shipped weapons to the rebels in Syria?

    I of course would prefer that Obama simply say the US is not willing to send weapons to the insurgents in Syria.

  26. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    June 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    My understanding is that the sentiment in UK – across political and scoial spectrum – is adamantly against intervention in Syria.

    But Mr. Cameron and Mr. Hague will nevertheless continue with their policy of arming the anti-government forces.

    They have no other policy choices.

  27. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    June 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    It is irrelevant what British people think. The order has come from the Queen. The peasant prime minister has to carry it out. This is what a dictatorship does. The same dictatorship responsible for hundreds of millions of dead humans and billions of enslaved human beings over the past 400 years. Shamelessly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFJ0fdvKlQQ

  28. fyi says:

    Nasser says:

    June 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    This is all a good things; that Sunni Islamism has been exposed for what it is – a virulent form of extreme sectarianism with nary any positive program.

    Likely, the Sunni Majority countries with Shia and other minorities will start experiencing severe social and political problems as a conssequences of events and sentiments such as those.

    But beyond today’s events, I think one has to think out to the future. I think the Shia Doctors of Religion and the Shia Political Leaders must articulate a credible approach to treatment of religious minorities.

    Specifically, I think it will be a good idea for them to develop a legal theory for existing off-shoots religions of Islam:

    -Druze
    -Alawite
    -Alevi
    -Yazidi
    -Babi
    -Bahai
    -Ahmadi
    -Sikh
    -Ali-Allahi

    These communities must be reassured that there is a way for them to live in security within the Shia Islam – regardless of the specific of their religion.

    Years ago, there used to be Sikhs in Zahedan, just like there are now Sikhs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There must be a way to address their concerns as well as others like them who left Islam – or so they have thought.

  29. James Canning says:

    Smith.

    You think the Queen of England is a “dictator”? Amazing.

  30. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    David Cameron agreed not to have Britain supply weapons to the Syrian rebels, without prior approvval from Parliament.

    James Blitz says Parliament very unlikely to permit this.

  31. fyi says:

    Smith says:

    June 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    No, that is not true.

    The Monarch has very little executive power left; she still can create titled individuals but there is nothing that she could do if Parliament took that away from her or gave itself the power of creating them.

    The sentiment in UK could be very important; it was decisive in ending slavery and later, in ending the genocide in Congo being conducted by Belgium.

    One could only hope that the UK government falls because of its Syrian policy.

  32. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    They fear the MB more than anything else

    UAE charges 30 suspects with coup plot linked to Muslim Brotherhood

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/uae-charges-30-suspects-with-coup-plot-linked-to-muslim-brotherhood/2013/06/19/9124c06e-d8db-11e2-b418-9dfa095e125d_story.html

    UAE puts 30 on trial over alleged Brotherhood activities

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/85a6d398-d8e6-11e2-a6cf-00144feab7de.html#axzz2WhaxPBUB

  33. nico says:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/05/20/washington-signals-dollar-deep-concerns/

    About Gold manipulation, USD, US foreign trade trade unbalance, the QE and the impossible and untenable economic equation with current job offshoring related to USD reserve status as well as WTO rules.

  34. nico says:

    http://www.goldminerpulse.com/v/shanghaiGoldExchangePhysicalDelivery.php

    “The above graph of monthly gold delivery from vault demonstrates very clearly, what many have expressed repeatedly on sites such as KingWorldNews, that the COMEX is a paper gold market while the SGE is a world class market for physical gold delivery.”

    What is noticeable :
    – The trend dramatically accelerated from 2011and the COMEX is becoming irrelevant and near non existant.
    – The manipulation of the price of gold is obvious. Within such active market it should raise dramatically.

    Well the real productive economy is in China and Asia, while the financial ponzi scheme economy is in the US.
    It seems we are one crisis away from the demise of the USD as a the world reserve currency.

    It is quite logical, the USD wlrld reserve status is coming from the Brettonwood agreement when the US where the main economic power by a wide wide margin but above all the main consumer and dealer of commodities in the world.

    China is today the main dealer and consumer of commodities in the world.

  35. BiBiJon says:

    Syria?
    ======

    G7+1 (no, it ain’t a Gillette razor) had one purpose: cower Putin. For some strange reason, Putin cowered the others.

    The final communique said nothing about “Assad must go,” nor did it definitively blame the Syrian government for use of chemical weapons, indeed it only refered to it as “reported use” of such to be “objectively” examined. But, it did condemn the sectarian Takfiri ideology of the insurgency. And called on the the good and the ugly to gang up on the bad.

    You’d think when the game is over, the game is over. Well, you’d be wrong. The Guardian knows no limit to lame manipulation. Here’s the headline:

    “Vladimir Putin may allow Assad to go if power vacuum in Syria is avoided”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/18/putin-assad-power-vacuum-syria

    Read it if you must. But the most solid, concrete expression you’ll find is:

    “British are hopeful”; “British officials believe”; etc.

  36. kooshy says:

    Bussed-in Basiji says:
    June 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    “U.S. to launch formal peace talks with Taliban
    …and then mysteriously…
    State Dept denies reports of US-Taliban talks”

    Even more mysteriously a reporter (Michael Hastings) who exposed the Obama surge fallacy by interviewing the General in charge (McChrystal) of that surge, Mr. Hasting dies of car accent (car hitting a tree and burst in fire) burns just days before talks with Talaban gets started, he dies of burn in a car accident in central LA his body was discovered by police beyond recognition, but we know its him who was in the car accident. Who was the one that Gav government slathered in hide park Dr. Kelly?

    “Hastings, who was also a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, is best known for his 2010 Rolling Stone cover story, “The Runaway General.” The story is credited with ending Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s career after it revealed the military’s candid criticisms of the Obama administration. Hastings quoted McChrystal and his aides mocking Obama administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, over their war policies.”

    “Los Angeles police and the coroner’s office had yet to confirm Hastings was the victim of the 4:25 a.m. accident in which the vehicle crossed a median, hit a tree and burst into flames, charring the body beyond recognition, the Los Angeles Times reported.”

  37. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    As you probably know, most elevations to the House of Lords are the result of nominations put forward by leaders of the several political parties.

  38. Nasser says:

    fyi says: June 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Thank you very much for your comment.

    I have a few questions regarding the specifics of your post:

    – I didn’t understand whether you advocated a fatwa to be extended to these (or some of these) communities that will recognize these peoples as legitimate Muslims? – In the same manner a fatwa was extended to the Syrian Alawites.
    – Or did you mean that Iranian and Shia authorities should simply advocate for freedom of worship human rights protection for various minorities of the region?
    – Do you think the Iranian state will eventually accommodate the Bahais?
    – I am afraid I am very ignorant about the Sikh religion but I didn’t realize they were ever considered Muslims by anyone or that they themselves regard themselves as Muslims as say the Ahmadis do.

  39. fyi says:

    Nasser says:

    June 19, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I meant that Iranian and Shia authorities should simply advocate for freedom of worship protection for various minorities of the region.

    This was done in practical terms by Ottomans and Mughals – perhaps their historical records could be searched for their legalistic reasonings and then grafted back into Shia Irani Doctrines.

    The late Sheikh Fadlollah Nouri used to make the distinction between citizen of Iran and inhabitants of Iran. By citizens he intended only Muslim Iranians; inhabitants were everyone else including Bahais, Jews, Christians.

    In regards to Bahais in Iran, I do not know. They are concieved to be too much of a threat – in contrast to the Kurdish Yazidi/Devil Worshippers.

    You need to find an Ayatollah that could make distinctions analogous to those that Sheikh Fadlollah could and make it stick.

    Sikh Religion is neither Muslim nor Hindu – a lot of their holy book is actually Persian mystical poetry written by various Sikh gurus. Sikhs believe in one God and consider themselves to be soldiers of God; they do however believe in transmigration of souls (as far as I know).

    But then, so do Alawites, Alevis, and even Rumi; evidently certain verses of the Quran could be interpereted so!

    But my intention is really to point out that given the religious diversity of the area between Hindkush to the Mediterranean sea, orthodoxy – based on either Shia or Sunni practices and regulations – is unsupportable.

    I mean, consider the Ahamdis is Pakistan or the Alevi in Turkey or the Bahai in Iran.

    These people feel threatened by Islam – Sunni or Shia does not matter – and I am suggesting a method be found to accomodate them in order to increase state cohesion as well as to minimize discord.

  40. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    fyi, Nasser,
    Iranians will never “accept” Bahais- didn’t do so during the Qajar era, Pahlavi nor during the IRI. Better they go to Haifa…and then get bombed by Hezbollah…inshallah!

    Unlike other countries, in Iran some of these mentioned groups are so marginal as not to warrant any need to pay attention to them.

    The best solution is if they gradually migrate to their real promised land- the west. Many have done that.

    Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians are protected under sharia and the Iranian constitution and have guaranteed seats in the Majlis.

    Many of them also fought in the war and some were martyred.

    The Supreme Leader regularly visits their families just like he does the families of the Muslim martyrs.

    Sikhs are a special case in Iran. There is a Sikh temple in Tehran and around 5000 Sikhs in Iran, most with Indian passports but some got Iranian passports before the revolution.

    Again not large enough to warrant attention by the Iranian authorities- nor by the Indian authorities for that matter.

  41. fyi says:

    Bussed-in Basiji says:

    June 20, 2013 at 2:48 am

    You have to look beyond Iran and consider a situation in which Shia have to deal with Ahmadis, Alevis, Alawite, Druze, Hindus etc.