Monday, February 22, 2016

IRAN POLITICS - Choosing Next Supreme Leader

REMINDER:  Iran today is a Theocracy, government by religion (where religious law trumps all civil law).  As I understand Iranian politics the current "Guardian Council" has veto power over laws, which would include WHO can be selected.

"How will Iran choose its next Supreme Leader?" PBS NewsHour 2/19/2016


SUMMARY:  Iranians will go to the polls next week to choose a new Parliament, as well as select the council that will in turn choose the country's next Supreme Leader after Ayatollah Khamenei's death.  But how will the recent nuclear deal with the U.S. affect voting?  William Brangham talks to NPR's Steve Inskeep, who has just returned from a research trip in Iran, for more on the political scene there.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  The signing of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran was supposed to begin a new era of relations between Iran and the West.  The deal would free Iran from decades of crippling economic sanctions, while giving the West some confidence that Iran won't be able to develop a nuclear weapon.

Many in the United States, however, remain wary of Iran's intentions, including virtually all the Republican candidates running for president.  They all vow to renegotiate the agreement.

But what is happening inside Iran?

National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep is just back from a reporting trip, and he joins me now.

Steve, welcome back.  And welcome to the show.

STEVE INSKEEP, NPR:  Thanks.  Glad to be here.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  The nuclear deal has been signed.  Iran is freed somewhat from these sanctions.

What is it like there?  Are things getting better for Iranians?

STEVE INSKEEP:  No, not in day-to-day life, not yet.

In fact, in talking with people on the street, which I find to be one of the most productive things to do when traveling to Iran, I find a lot of pessimism.  People have gone through years of economic suffering.  Many people have disagreed with the political direction of their government.

And even though things are moving, in their point of view, in a more optimistic direction, it's very slow.  And of course it's too early to see any concrete economic results from the end of sanctions that just happened a few weeks ago.

There was a time when people were saying just the anticipation of the end of sanctions was improving Iran's economy, but that seems not to have trickled down to ordinary people.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  But I don't understand.  Rouhani was elected in no small part to eliminate sanctions, to improve relations with the West, to try to make the economy better.  Is this the sense that it's not happening fast enough or not enough?

STEVE INSKEEP:  That is exactly right.

There is this residue of support for Hassan Rouhani.  I even found people in centers of support for the prior president, who was very different, who said, yes, I support Rouhani.  I'm with Rouhani.

But I think more liberal people or Western-facing people who want much greater openness, who want much greater change have been disappointed not to see more.

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