E. V. DUNAEVA, Candidate of Historical Sciences, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
IRI Keywords:. conservatives, reformers, political system, M. Ahmadinejad, protest movement, parliamentary elections
Socio-political processes in the Middle East have undergone dramatic changes over the past year, which have added negative dynamics to their content and significantly affected the overall situation in the region, which has a pronounced geopolitical significance. Serious progress, which owes its origin to the strong desire of the Arab peoples for social justice and democratic reforms, one way or another leads to increased tension and instability throughout the region and increased external interference.
Against this background, it is especially necessary to highlight Iran, which is going through a difficult period in its history, both due to specific domestic political circumstances and under the influence of the nuclear factor. It is attracting additional attention to the region from the world's leading powers, who are hell-bent on preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear State, even though the country's ability to reach the threshold level is still completely unclear.
In Iran itself, a complex struggle is being waged between different social forces, political elites, institutions and parties, which in its highest manifestation boils down to the rivalry of conservatives and progressives for power, but in fact is much deeper and sharper than it may seem from the outside.
The "Arab Spring", the maneuvers of the United States, Israel's intentions, the Syrian dynamics, the Shiite factor and the escapades of regional competitors-all this can not but affect the internal political situation of Iran. Meanwhile, the country and its religious and political establishment are already engaged in a struggle with many unknown and highly uncertain moves and decisions that could ensure Iran's proper place in the regional hierarchy.
FROM INTER-FACTIONAL TO INTRA-FACTIONAL STRUGGLES
The March-May 2012 elections (2 rounds) to the Parliament (Assembly of the National Council, or Majlis) reflected the specifics of Iran's political system and the balance of power in the domestic political arena.
Iran is an Islamic Republic, but the system of government combines religious and democratic principles. According to the country's Constitution, the highest official is the religious leader (rahbar). At the same time, there is a principle of separation of powers, which function under the control of the leader.
Legislative power is represented by a unicameral Parliament, which is elected every 4 years by direct universal suffrage. However, candidates must be allowed to participate in the election campaign and its results approved by the Supervisory Board , a special body that confirms the compliance of decisions taken by the parliament with the norms of Islam. Through special commissions on the ground, he checks the reliability and religiosity of all candidates, assesses their loyalty to the Islamic revolution and, in fact, rejects candidates who are not pleasing to him for political views.
In the most difficult cases, the leader has the last word. Thus, during the last election campaign, the candidacy of the son of one of the ideologues of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah M. Motahari, known for his harsh criticism of the policies of M. Ahmadinejad and sympathy for the participants of the protest actions in the summer and autumn of 2009, was rejected. However, the intervention of Rahbar A. Khamenei helped to settle this incident, and A. Motahari was able to run for parliament.
Although this procedure allows religious organizations to influence the election results of a democratic body to a certain extent, at the same time, trends of various ideological orientations are represented in the political arena of Iran and in its parliament.
Even in the first post-revolutionary years, the clergy who came to power split into "right" and "left". Supporters of the former were called conservatives or fundamentalists, and followers of the second trend-liberals, and later-reformers. The confrontation between these two flanks has defined the political process in Iran for more than two decades.
The alternating dominance of representatives of conservative or more liberal orientation in different government bodies gave a certain balance to the entire system of power, although it potentially carried the following consequences:
elements of instability. In the most acute moments, the intervention of the spiritual leader balanced the situation. When the united front of reformist forces brought President M. Khatami to power in 1997, and then the Mejlis fell into the hands of his associates, the judiciary, the Supervisory Board and other structures were under the control of conservatives.
At the same time, fearing further evolution of the reformers towards democracy, they bet on a representative of the neoconservative movement representing the interests of Islamic radicals in the 2005 presidential elections, and thus secured his victory in the elections.1
After the election of M. Ahmadinejad, for the first time in the entire history of Iran, all the centers of power were in the hands of conservatives. It would seem that the current situation should have led to the further strengthening of the Islamic regime and the consolidation of the camp of right-wing forces. In fact, the transfer of all power into the hands of conservatives, contrary to logic, led to an increase in the processes of stratification within the conservative camp and the separation of the most pragmatic groups from it.
From the first days of the new president's coming to power, some moderate conservatives (traditionalists) she began to express dissatisfaction with his radical statements, excessive populism and ill-considered actions, considering them not in the interests of the country's development. Soon there was a tendency to concentrate power in the hands of extreme right-wing forces and squeeze moderates out of the administrative and administrative apparatus.
As the President strengthened his position in the center and provinces, he sought to limit the power and influence of the first generation of revolutionaries, reduce the presence of clergy in the executive branch, and reduce their role in the country's economy by creating a new business elite. The promotion of IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) personnel in the state apparatus and other government structures, as well as the promotion of companies created around IRGC structures, caused concern not only among Ahmadinejad's political opponents,but also among the clergy. 2 This line of the president led to increased interference of the security forces in the political life of the country, which Imam Khomeini warned about in his political will.
At the same time, Ahmadinejad demonstrated his intention to expand his rights as head of the executive branch and weaken its control by the Mejlis and other government structures, which met with opposition from traditionalist conservatives who were unwilling to give up their positions. In 2008, when they took over the leadership of the Mejlis, they increased their criticism of the President's domestic and foreign policies and tried to take control of the Government's activities.
The lack of flexibility in international affairs and intransigence on the issue of the national nuclear program led to the introduction of sanctions by the international community (starting in December 2006) against Iran, which could not but contribute to the deterioration of the economic situation. At the same time, the Government developed plans to withdraw subsidies for goods and services and introduce targeted financial assistance to the population. And this threatened to increase the prices of water, electricity, gas, gasoline, bread, etc.and stimulated inflation. Despite the Mejlis ' lack of proper cooperation and its harsh criticism of such policies, the President went ahead with these extremely unpopular measures.
Although the traditionalists opposed Ahmadinejad's decisions, they were nevertheless loyal to the spiritual leader A. Khamenei, who openly declared his support for the president, and expressed confidence in him in the 2009 elections. During the run-up to the presidential election, there was a certain consolidation of conservative traditionalists and radicals around the figure of Ahmadinejad, due to fears of sharing power with reformers. This provided him with a second victory in the elections.
REFORMERS: ATTEMPT TO RETURN TO POWER FAILED
The reformist wing, which was in power in 1997-2005, was completely ousted from all power structures. Its leaders tried to regroup forces and achieve unity of opinion, but faced a number of organizational difficulties, which arose both due to disagreements on further tactics and personal ambitions, mainly between former President M. Khatami and Chairman of the Mejlis M. Karubi, who founded the new People's Trust party.
With the goal of regaining the confidence of the people in the 2009 presidential election, the reformers invited former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has spent the last 20 years away from active political life in the country, to participate in the election campaign. He was also supported by pragmatists who broke away from the conservative camp, behind which stood such a well-known political figure as Hashemi Rafsanjani. Some of the clergy, who were critical of Ahmadinejad, sided with the reformist candidate.
Mousavi's supporters were in favor of strengthening the foundations of the republican system in the country while preserving the religious element in it, for the further development of democracy and political liberal reforms. They were supported by representatives of the middle urban strata, mainly students and scientific and cultural intelligentsia. In the economic sphere, these forces supported the policy of more active development of the private sector, expansion of the privatization process, supported the creation of a government made up of professional managers, and reoriented foreign policy - the development of broad international relations, primarily with Western countries.
The election campaign, which was characterized by an unprecedented increase in the activity of the population and the sharpness of political struggle since the 1979 revolution, led to a split in society into two large groups-supporters of M. Ahmadinejad and his opponents (followers of Musa-
vi). The country has not faced such a confrontation of political forces for more than 20 years. After the presidential election, a deep political crisis broke out, the consequences of which have not yet been eliminated and have a huge impact on the political life of the country.
The opposition did not recognize Ahmadinejad's victory. The protests were suppressed by law enforcement forces and members of the Basij movement*. Unjustifiably harsh actions of the authorities during the dispersal of demonstrations and repression of the reform camp caused an increase in discontent with pro-government forces and a new round of protests, which received an active response from the Iranian diaspora abroad and, in particular, the Western media. Starting from the autumn of 2009, the line of cooperation between the foreign opposition and the domestic one, which was trying to form a "green movement", became more and more active.
As the protests escalated, slogans began to appear in the columns of demonstrators directed against the basic principles of the structure of power in Iran and the spiritual leader. This development of events caused discontent among the broad masses of the people, which was manifested during demonstrations organized in support of A. Khamenei and the Islamic Republic. Representatives of the "greens"also took part in them.
Many Iranians supported the speeches of Mousavi's supporters, as they associated his coming to power with some liberalization of public and political life, but within the framework of the Islamic republic. Seeing the possibility of turning this movement into an anti-Islamic one, they distanced themselves from the"rebels". In the West, attempts were made to portray the Green Movement as a pillar of the Iranian anti-Islamic opposition based abroad, and it was linked to the possibility of a coup in the country3.
This protest movement, in fact, has not received an ideological and clear organizational form and can only be considered as a social movement against Ahmadinejad. It did not become widespread, could not become comprehensive, and stopped at the stage of protest actions of the urban intelligentsia and students, because due to certain features of the economic and socio-cultural development of the country and existing restrictions in society, it was not able to attract representatives of other social groups to its side.
The government managed to completely take control of the opposition camp. Attempts to revive the protests in the winter of 2011 and 2012 were unsuccessful. With the exception of one large-scale demonstration in Tehran in support of pro-democracy movements in Arab countries in February 2011, no other actions were organized.
The repression of reformist leaders, the closure of representative offices of their organizations and information agencies, and accusations of attempts to carry out the "velvet revolution" and regime change put on the agenda the question of preserving this trend in the domestic political arena.
Currently, the reform movement is experiencing a severe crisis. The aggravation of internal contradictions between the various currents of this camp actually led to its split. Radical groups that have not yet recognized the results of the presidential election are positioned by the authorities as rebels. Their support by the Iranian emigration, which supports the overthrow of the regime, only adds to the perception of these individuals as enemies of the Islamic Republic.
After the events of the summer and autumn of 2009, the very concept of "reformism" became associated with anti-state and anti-Islamic activities among a part of society. At the same time, it is impossible to talk about the complete eradication of this ideological trend. There seems to be an increased interest in the ideas of deepening democracy and implementing political and social reforms in the Iranian society.
In these circumstances, the most significant figure of this ideological trend is M. Khatami. The former president, understanding the need to restore the positions of progressives, calls for a review of the strategy of action, to break all ties with emigration, to separate from the extremely radical elements that pose the main threat to the continuation of the political life of this ideological trend, and, relying on the positions of moderate reformism, to try to return to the political arena. At the same time, it is under-
* The Basij, or Militia, is an acronym for the "Destitute Mobilization Organization" created at the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) to provide basic military training to the civilian population. Currently, members of the Basij movement, both boys and girls, undergo special military and ideological training and form the reserve of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
emphasizes that reformers remain loyal to the ideals of the Islamic Revolution, the principle of "velayat-e faqih" * and the country's constitution.4
NEW TRENDS IN AHMADINEJAD'S POLICY
Although the political elite in power managed to put a barrier to the protest movement by force, it was impossible to prevent the development of the process of separation of forces, which covered almost all strata and groups of the population. The processes of confrontation within the conservative camp have also intensified.
After the election of Ahmadinejad for a second term (2009-2013), his intentions to concentrate more and more powers in his hands in order to control all power structures in the future became even clearer. Relying on the support of a significant part of the country's population - residents of rural areas and representatives of the new urban strata - recent migrants, part of the clergy and representatives of the IRGC, he purposefully and steadily went to his goal.
The president's policy of turning Iran into a regional power that will be able to resist any forces and threats and influence global processes has been a red thread of his policy since the first days of coming to power. To achieve these goals, the emphasis was placed on the development of science, new technologies, primarily nuclear, and military programs.
In his second term as president, Ahmadinejad became even more active in promoting this project. At the same time, a nationalistic trend has emerged: the achievements of the Iranian civilization prevail over Islamic values. In order to modernize the country, Ahmadinejad is following the path of economic liberalization, using, on the one hand, market mechanisms, on the other - providing, as far as possible, social support to the poor. He tries to take control of foreign policy activities, initiates new ideas in cultural policy. The President travels a lot around the country, holds government meetings in the most remote and economically backward provinces, regularly meets with the population, listens to their complaints and wishes, and directly allocates funds for necessary needs. Such populist measures contribute to maintaining its rating.
At the same time, in the last two years, political figures from the conservative camp have begun to talk about the president's reorientation, his departure from the positions of Islamic radicalism, the emerging trend of excommunicating clergy from power, and the campaign "Islam without clergy".5
Some traditional circles are particularly irritated by the president's condemnation of the use of force to maintain Islamic traditions in wearing women's clothing and behavior in public places, or his support for youth music culture, the widespread involvement of women in the work of top state bodies, and the emphasis on Iranian national traditions to the detriment of the Islamic component. Concern is expressed about the possibility of a change in the country's foreign policy course due to the desire of some of the president's associates to restore relations with the United States6, which seems unlikely due to his anti-Israeli and anti-American rhetoric.
In the light of the strengthening of the president's position and the desire to remove opponents from the political scene, the campaign against Hashemi Rafsanjani and the departure of this influential politician from the post of chairman of the Council of Experts**should be considered. Although he retained the leadership of another state structure , the Council for Determining the Appropriateness of Decisions***, the influence of this body declined during the years of Ahmadinejad's presidency.
When solving his tasks, the president comes into conflict with the Mejlis, ignores its decisions, and sometimes even the instructions of the Supervisory Board and even the leader himself. He is described as the most independent and unpredictable president from Rahbar.
CONFLICT AT THE TOP OF POWER
The actions of the chief executive, which can be seen as an attempt to establish a new political elite and correct the Islamic image of Iran, are opposed by most of the conservative camp, which controls the other two branches of government - the legislative and judicial.
The chairman of the previous (8th Mejlis) A. Larijani, who is connected by family ties with the highest clergy of Qom, the most important religious and political center of the country, is to some extent opposed to Ahmadinejad. The Mejlis and the Government fail to reach an understanding.
The relationship between these two structures turned into a confrontation. Contradictions between the main institutions of state power were manifested not only in criticism of each other's positions, but also in non-fulfillment of decisions, inconsistency of actions, attempts to interfere in the affairs of other bodies. Growing disagreements within the political elites led to the formation of two different approaches to the development and implementation of foreign policy, which contributed to the aggravation of Iran's international isolation.
At the same time, the political establishment did not openly advertise the existence of internal contradictions. But the highest Shiite authorities have repeatedly issued fatwas, I condemn-
* "Velayat-e faqih" - the board of the faqih, or Islamic jurist. According to Shia tradition, during the period of the hidden imam, the authority of the head of the Muslim community is assigned to the most respected faqih. According to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the faqih, also known as the rahbar, is the highest state person who unites spiritual and secular power.
** A special body of the highest level of power that elects the spiritual leader, supervises and regulates his activities, and considers possible amendments to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is directly elected every 8 years. The absolute majority of the members of the Council of Experts are representatives of the highest Shiite clergy.
*** A body in the structure of state power, established in 1989, with the functions of an advisory council to the spiritual leader. It is designed to determine the appropriateness of decisions taken by legislative bodies and resolve conflicts between the Supervisory Board and the Parliament. The members of this council are personally appointed by the spiritual leader for a five-year term.
These are the actions and statements of Ahmadinejad and his inner circle.
After several major scandals involving the president's staff, as well as his attempts to infringe on the rights of Rakhbar, A. Khamenei expressed his dissatisfaction with the president's actions.7 Taking advantage of the situation, the parliament initiated the question of possible impeachment of the president. However, the intentions of some political forces to remove Ahmadinejad and his supporters from power were not crowned with success.
The spiritual leader, who obviously did not start the anti-presidential campaign without his consent, preferred not to deepen the split between the political elite and society in the face of increasing political and economic pressure on Iran from the West and the expansion of the protest movement in the Middle East. Accusing external enemies of inciting internal contradictions, he called on the Government to continue working and interact with the legislative power8. However, even the intervention of the spiritual leader did not prevent the parliament from calling the president to account before the deputies for the first time in the entire history of Iran.
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS: ELITE STRUGGLE ESCALATES
Disagreements between the President and the Government, on the one hand, and the Mejlis, the judiciary, and religious authorities, on the other, grew as the election of a new parliament approached. Each of the conflicting parties linked their settlement to the results of the parliamentary elections and obtaining support from the absolute majority of new members of the Mejlis. A victory in these elections would pave the way for victory in the 2013 presidential campaign.
Representatives of the traditional clergy and moderate conservatives have taken a course to limit the number of supporters of the president in the future parliament. To succeed in this mission, it was necessary to strengthen the unity of the conservative camp, divided into pragmatists, traditionalists and neoconservatives. The main emphasis was placed on restoring the traditions of conservatism, relying on the two main religious organizations that actively participated in the political life of the country in the 1980s and 1990s - the Society of Struggling Clergy and the Society of Teachers of the Kumsky Theological Center, which developed the Charter of conservatives. This document was supposed to be the ideological basis for the formation of a united front.
Despite numerous attempts to reach an agreement, as well as the mediation of religious societies and Shiite authorities, it was not possible to gather all the forces into a single bloc. The radicals took the path of forming their own coalition and came out separately from the United Front of Conservatives.
The pragmatists, or reform conservatives as they are known in Iran, who also oppose Ahmadinejad, have formed a separate coalition. Their goals are to strengthen the Islamic regime and the "velayat-e faqte" principle, improve the Iranian economic model within the framework of the 20-year plan for the development of the Iranian economy (2005-2025), and strengthen Islamic principles in the cultural and social life of the society. They are committed to developing constructive and mutually beneficial relations with all countries, first of all, the Western countries.
Thus, the election campaign turned into a rivalry between different trends of the conservative camp.
It is necessary to recognize that attempts to rank political forces based on their views in the context of the Iranian reality are quite a difficult task. Most of them do not have clearly formulated action programs. Their positions are often adjusted depending on the situation and tactical goals.
Since, with the exception of a dozen parties and organizations that are constantly engaged in political activity, most associations are activated only during election campaigns and unite in pre-election coalitions, it is possible to assess their views only by monitoring the reactions of group leaders to certain events.
Moreover, extremely conservative approaches in the socio-cultural sphere or foreign policy can get along with liberal approaches in solving economic problems.
New organizations are constantly emerging whose positions are identical to the existing ones, but the ambitions of their leaders hinder their rapprochement. The rivalry of these associations does not reflect the struggle of ideas, but only demonstrates the fragmentation of the political elite, its internal contradictions and ambitions, often based on subjective likes and dislikes.
Given that Iran has not yet developed a system of parties in its modern sense and lacks the experience of many years of party struggle, the public evaluates mainly not the programs and slogans put forward by the parties, but the persons who represent them. It is on the authority, popularity, abilities and capabilities of their representative that most organizations rely during election campaigns.
The nomination of candidates from almost 20 associations of conservative and more liberal orientation in the last elections is an indicator that the policy of uniting all trends and groups in order to consolidate the new Mejlis was not crowned with success9. The conservatives ' attempts to rely on organizations that were active on the eve and in the first years after the revolution, and to restore the role of these parties of the clergy in society, ended in failure. It has become clear that the political processes in the country are increasingly influenced by new forces and new factors that require the departure of old forces and the renewal of traditional political institutions.
Considering that the future development of the country will largely depend on the results of the Mejlis elections, the religious and political leadership has launched extensive propaganda in an attempt to mobilize the maximum possible number of supporters.
On the eve of the elections, the country's leadership was particularly concerned about the issue of voter turnout. A sharp decline in the number of people who came to the polls could jeopardize the very legitimacy of this campaign.
For almost 30 years, the country's political and religious leadership has demonstrated active citizen participation in numerous election campaigns as an achievement of Islamic democracy and a confirmation of support for the regime. Naturally, a boycott of the elections by some segments of society could indicate their refusal to support it.
Concerns were determined by several reasons. During all previous election campaigns, there was a fierce competition between representatives of the reformist and conservative flanks. Currently, the situation has changed. After the events of the summer and autumn of 2009, the very concept of "reformism" became associated with anti-state and anti-Islamic activities among a part of society. In such circumstances, even the remaining reformist forces in the country could not take an organized part in the election campaign, and this could lead to the non-appearance of their electorate. The lack of a political competitor for the conservatives turned the elections into a one-party election without an alternative, which called into question the democratic nature of the system and could also result in the loss of some of the voters.
The negative dynamics of the international situation in the region and the tightening of the sanctions regime have made it necessary for Iran to demonstrate the unity of the people and the authorities. Religious authorities of the country on the eve of the vote focused the attention of Iranians on the need to demonstrate a worthy example to neighboring Arab states and show the advantages of Islamic democracy.
It is obvious that the idea of promoting the Iranian model of state structure has resonated with some segments of society, who feel a certain superiority from the realization that Iran has become a pioneer on the path of building an Islamic republic. The idea of providing direct support to the Islamic forces in the Middle East, "who have risen up to fight despotism, Western influence and Zionism" and in this sense are the "successors of the Islamic revolution", as well as promoting the achievements of Iran in all spheres of life to a certain extent work to consolidate Iranian society.
Despite calls from external and internal opposition forces to hold protest actions and boycott the elections, the country's population responded to the calls of the leadership to show patriotic feelings, come to the ballot boxes and thereby demonstrate their support for the regime and "give a decisive response to the external enemies of the republic."
The turnout for the elections (64% of eligible voters) was one of the highest in the history of elections to the Mejlis. Such active participation of Iranians in the election campaign can rightly be regarded as a vote of confidence in the Islamic republic, a demonstration of support for the regime, an expression of confidence in the leader's policy, a response to external forces trying to discredit the Islamic republic, and as evidence that, despite the preservation of the protest potential in society, it is not yet ready Thus, the task set by the country's leadership to demonstrate the "unity of the people and government" to the external enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran was solved.
A convincing victory was won by moderate representatives who demonstrate loyalty to the ideals of the Islamic revolution, the principles of the Islamic republic, support the spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and critically assess the president's activities. The electorate preferred more liberal-minded candidates.
The reformers, who were afraid of not getting the approval of the Supervisory Board, refused to participate in the campaign under their own slogans. At the same time, some groups on the left of the political spectrum managed to get permission from the authorities and run their candidates for parliament. The main rivals of the United Front of Conservatives were Islamic radicals, who are in favor of strengthening statehood and Islamic principles in all spheres of public and economic life and are ready to continue supporting Ahmadinejad's policy if it is carried out in accordance with the Islamic paradigm.
The beginning of the work of the Mejlis of the 9th convocation in May 2012 and the election of A. Larijani as its head showed that the prevailing positions in its composition will be occupied by a faction of moderate conservatives, who have declared their readiness to put the government's activities under control. Since the current president does not intend to abandon his course and will retain his powers for another year, the confrontation between the authorities will continue, and in the near future the crisis at the top will not be resolved
it will succeed. Moreover, as new presidential elections approach, the confrontation will intensify. Both sides will look for opportunities to expand their social base, and new alliances and coalitions may be formed to this end.
ARE CHANGES COMING?
On the eve of the parliamentary elections in Iran, the possibility of making changes to the structure of political power was actively discussed. A. Khamenei, concerned about the confrontation between power structures and the unbalanced state system, and perhaps fearing the growing influence of pro-presidential forces, made a statement in the fall of 2011 about his intentions to make adjustments to the country's political system in the future in order to legally consolidate the control of the Mejlis over the president, giving parliamentarians the right to elect the head of the executive branch and turn the presidential republic into a parliamentary one 10. It became known that a commission of experts has already been established to study this issue in detail.
The implementation of such changes is possible only through a national referendum, which must approve changes to the constitution. Representatives of various political and religious organizations reacted differently to the leader's proposals. Opinions are expressed for and against reforms in this area 11. The very fact that the spiritual leader raised this issue indicates that the religious and political leadership is aware of the need for political reforms to preserve the stability of the regime. The main question is whether the processes will move in the direction of strengthening the religious paradigm and limiting democratic principles, or expanding the institutions of civil society.
Raising the issue of possible changes to Iran's political system, one should not lose sight of the fact that the role of the spiritual leader in society has increased since the events of 2009. A significant part of the country's population still sees Khamenei as a leader endowed with the highest knowledge and wisdom, a conductor of the ideas of justice, equality, and a defender of national interests. All political forces express their loyalty and loyalty to Rahbar. In recent years, the leader often appears in public, gives an assessment of events, delves into all problems and points out ways to resolve them, calls the parties to account, and levels out contradictions.
Despite the preservation of various centers of power and multidirectional political factionalism, it is the spiritual leader who, through dialogue with numerous structures, tries to bring them to a consensus and makes final decisions. The high authority of the religious head supports the stability of the internal political situation. Any attempts to amend the constitution of the country aimed at reducing his powers will not be understood by a significant part of society in the current conditions and will face tough opposition from forces associated with religious circles.
The internal political situation is aggravated by the pressure of external factors. The ongoing confrontation in the state structures hinders both sides from making drastic decisions, although the need to adjust the external and internal course of the Islamic Republic of Iran is recognized by all political forces.
The events of 2009, regarded in Iran as the most difficult period in the history of the Islamic republic, demonstrated the inevitability of a transformation of the current system of government. Although the opposition movement was crushed, the reasons that led to its emergence have not been eliminated. Socio-economic problems, despite the government's attempts to offset the impact of sanctions, are growing. The West, which has supported tougher sanctions by imposing an oil embargo, will continue to increase pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear program. However, it is impossible not to see that the continuation of such efforts may eventually lead to overexertion and exhaustion of Iran's forces and destabilization of the internal situation.
* * *
Instability in the Arab world was initially caused by internal political reasons, which, superimposed on a very destructive external factor, led to uncertainty in the situation in a number of States.
It seems that the examples of Arab revolutions against the background of increasing international isolation of Iran can cause a reaction of imitation and lead to negative consequences. Iran has a chance to prevent the development of events in this scenario. In the 33 years that have passed since the revolution, the Islamic regime has not only confirmed the possibility of its existence, but also demonstrated its ability to evolve and still retains the potential for further development within the framework of "Islamic democracy".
The question is whether the time allotted to Tehran by history will be enough to maintain a balance between national interests and the claims of the West.
1 For more information about the conservative camp's support for Ahmadinejad, see Esnaashri Sh. From Reforming Government to Islamic Government. Atai publishing Co., Tehran, 2007, p. 85 - 105.
2 See M. Kyarubi's interview with the BBC News Agency - http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/lg/iran/2010/07/100726 -110-karubi-interview-sanction...
3 The People Reloaded. The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran's Future. Edited by N.Hashemi and D.Postel. Melville House, Brooklin, New York, 2010.
5 www.seratnews.ir/fa/47376; www.bbc.co. uk/persian/iran/2011/12/111 219 - 123-majlis9th-... ; www.khabaronline.ir/ 188712; www.khabaronline.ir/news-154486.aspx
6 www.irdiplomacy.ir. 18/12/2010
7 www.khabaronline.ir/157094.aspx; www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/2011/05/110528 - 110-attacs-o...
9 For a list of coalitions and organizations that have run for the parliamentary elections, see: www.etedaal.ir.233H/aspx
11 Подробнее см.: www.etedaal.ir/news/15636/default.aspx; www.asriran.com/fa/185894
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