IRAN: Former President Mohammad Khatami keeps the pressure on hard-liners
Mohammad Khatami, the soft-spoken former Iranian president who has come under criticism for not being brave enough in his rhetoric and actions, on Monday issued a polite but firmly worded rebuke of the current hard-line establishment.
Khatami's statement appeared to be a response to supreme leader Ali Khamenei's insistence that reformists like Khatami had forfeited their ability to participate in the country's political establishment by refusing to accept his divine ratification of last year's presidential elections.
Khatami also filled in some of the blanks in opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi's recent interview, forcefully slamming the foreign policy of the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"It is easy to create tensions in the world, but difficult to eliminate them," he said in an account of a meeting with students posted on his charity's website, Baran.org.ir (in Persian). "Detente requires courage and finesse, and the system has to take steps to that effect. We should not embark on adventurism in the world under pretext of having won so many enemies. We should hold back from speaking in a manner to inflict heavy costs."
But, like Mousavi, he failed to articulate a way forward, offering no specific on a course of action other than to say, “We have to mobilize our efforts.”
"Everyone may have had his own interpretation of reforms, but we mean reforms within the framework of criteria born out of Islam, the revolution and the nation's will," he said. "In the face of any possible deviation from Islam and Imam Khomeini's line, we have to give warning."
He continued, "Go and ask the former revolutionary militants if the ongoing conditions reflect what they were after. Ask them if these arrests, blame games, vendettas and the imposition of costs on the nation were what the revolutionary forces sought. If not, our conscience necessitates that we close ranks in order to improve conditions."
Though he failed to articulate any course of action, he urged supporters to remain steadfast.
"We should not retreat from our demands, and we should keep fighting even if certain groups beat us on the head," he said. "Unfortunately, certain hard-line groups in the society are opposed to any compromise within the society."
Photo: Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Credit: AFP/Getty Images