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Will A New Parliament Change Iran For Better? Insiders Are Pessimistic

Iranian lawmakers holding pictures of slain Iran's Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani as they chant 'death to America', during a parliament session in Tehran, January 7, 2020

Amir Mohebbian, a prominent analyst in Iran, says the young conservatives who have won the parliament are more likely to serve the interests of the country's rulers than trying to meet the demands of the people.

Expressing his views about the future of politics in Iran and the role of the new parliament in an interview with reformist newspaper Arman Melli on Monday May 11, Mohebbian says: "Because of understandable reasons that have their roots in Iran's political history and the nature of power in this country, all political groups align their agenda with the will of the ruling power” rather than the people.

"Both conservatives and reformists in Iran have failed to see the real demands of the people. As a result, the people have turned their backs to them," he said.

Meanwhile, Ali Motahari, an outspoken Iranian lawmaker warned the country's hardliners, including the Guardian Council members who barred him from running for parliament, that the young members of the new parliament will not obey the party line.

Ali Motahari who says he was disqualified by the Guardian Council before the election in February because of his criticism of powerful hardliners, warned them that their dream of having an "obedient Majles" will not come true.

Conservative political analyst Amir Mohebbian.
Conservative political analyst Amir Mohebbian.

Explaining the impact of the takeover of the legislative body by conservatives Amir Mohebbian, who is a conservative himself predicted, "This can certainly bring about some changes, but what they do will not necessarily improve the situation", in comparison to the performance of the current parliament with its reformist-moderate majority.

Mohebbian does not believe that the newcomers can improve the country's situation: "I do not see any change of approach [to domestic and international policies] among the new MPs in comparison to their predecessors. They will try to make a fuss in the short run, but they will calm down soon because their behavior has no sustainable political backing," as serving the people's interests is not on their agenda.

Asked whether the new Majles would decide to pull Iran out of the nuclear deal with the world powers or whether it will impeach Rouhani, Mohebbian said: The new Majles has two options: It can either follow the path of the current Majles and drown itself in political games and hate-speech, or it can try to put the country back on the right track. I hope that the latter would be the case, but my pessimism leads me to believe that the former option is more likely to occur."

On the other hand, "The current administration (president) has turned everyone against it. No one will mourn for such an administration. This situation encourages everyone to attack the administration, unless the President would accept to play the part of a victim and bow in the hope of ensuring a silent survival by not causing much trouble in its final days," he said.

Mohebbian added: "Although the reformists might encourage Rouhani to resist, but he will prefer his own interests to standing by the promises he made to his supporters."

Asked about his views on Ahmadinejad supporters, Paydari Front and Pro-Qalibaf neoconservatives, Mohebbian said: "All of them want to take over political power, but they do not know what they are going to do next."

He said this is evident in the way all three groups, that collectively hold the majority in the Majles, are competing with each other over winning the post of the speaker of parliament.

Mohebbian said "Ahmadinejad is more focused on the people, but his supporters wish to take advantage of his social capital among the underprivileged people. As soon as they take over, they will distance themselves from Ahmadinejad and throw stones at him," stressing that "The smaller they are, they will throw bigger stones."

On the Paydari Front members, Mohebbian said: "They are obedient soldiers who are focused on the interests and ideas of powerful people. Their main characteristic is anger and bad temper as well as radicalism. However, I doubt that the Majles will put them in a position of power. If they do, the reality of politics in Iran will silence them although at times they can make the arena of politics turbulent."

Meanwhile, the press on Monday quoted a conservative former lawmaker Shamseddin Hosseini, a figure close to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as having said that some of the new lawmakers are going to settle their accounts with President Hassan Rouhani’s administration.

Speaking of the former mayor of Tehran Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf (Ghalibaf) and one of the leading contestants for the post of Majles Speaker, Mohebbia believes, "Qalibaf, has too many die-hard outspoken enemies among both conservatives and reformists. We need to see how he controls himself in the middle of sham fights at the Majles."

Mohebbian also explained his views about some of the older politicians. On the future of outgoing Majles Speaker Larijani and his clan, Mohebbian said, "They are too deep-rooted in the system to leave the scene altogether. They will move from one basket to another."

On the other hand, "Ahmadinejad can get very close to red lines, but he never crosses them. He is well-connected to the people and does not care about what others say about him. He tries to determine his own future but I doubt if he could succeed. Nevertheless, he can surprise everyone. His story is one to continue."