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DATE=2/3/99 TYPE=ENGLISH PROGRAMS FEATURE NUMBER=7-31376 TITLE=REVOLUTION AND REFORM IN IRAN BYLINE=JUDITH LATHAM TELEPHONE=619-3464 DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=AL PESSIN CONTENT = (TAPE CUTS IN AUDIO SERVICES) INTRO: IRAN'S ISLAMIC REVOLUTION WILL BE 20 YEARS OLD ON FEBRUARY 11, AND CELEBRATIONS IN IRAN HAVE ALREADY BEGUN. THE ANNIVERSARY COMES AS MODERATE POLITICAL FORCES UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF PRESIDENT MOHAMMED KHATAMI [HOH-TAH-MEE] CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE FOR INFLUENCE AGAINST CONSERVATIVE MUSLIM CLERICS, WHO REMAIN FIRMLY IN POWER. V-O-A'S JUDITH LATHAM HAS TALKED WITH SEVERAL EXPERTS ABOUT THE POLITICS OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION, 20 YEARS LATER. HERE'S ___ WITH A REPORT. TEXT: IRAN'S ONGOING POLITICAL EVOLUTION HIT A NOTEWORTHY MILESTONE IN THE RUN-UP TO THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY. UNDER PRESSURE FROM THE PRESIDENT, THE DIRECTOR OF IRANIAN INTELLIGENCE OPENLY CONFESSED THAT MEMBERS OF HIS MINISTRY WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR FIVE MURDERS. THE DEAD WERE CRITICS OF THE MUSLIM CLERGYMEN WHO RULE IRAN. IT WAS A MOMENT OF POLITICAL VICTORY FOR PRESIDENT KHATAMI'S REFORMISTS. THOMAS STAUFFER, AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS WRITINGS ON IRAN, SAYS THE UNPRECEDENTED CONFESSION IS PARTLY THE RESULT OF GROWING PUBLIC PRESSURE FOR MORE PLURALISM, BEYOND WHAT THE RULING CLERICS CURRENTLY ALLOW. TAPE: CUT ONE -- STAUFFER (0:17) "THE PRESS IS SURPRISINGLY FREE. THE COUNTRY BY THIRD WORLD STANDARDS IS SURPRISINGLY DEMOCRATIC. AND THE FACT THAT [PRESIDENT] KHATAMI WAS ABLE EVEN TO MOVE IN THE DIRECTION OF CALLING THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE TO ACCOUNT IS ITSELF SYMPTOMATIC OF THE IMPROVED DEMOCRATIC BALANCE IN THE COUNTRY." TEXT: MR. STAUFFER SAYS 20 YEARS AGO SUCH AN ADMISSION WOULD HAVE BEEN UNTHINKABLE. BUT THE REASON FOR THE CHANGE IS CLEAR. IN 1997, PRESIDENT KHATAMI WAS ELECTED ON A REFORMIST PLATFORM WITH MORE THAN 70 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. WITH SUCH LARGE NUMBERS, HIS SUPPORTERS ARE INEVITABLY CREATING PRESSURE FOR CHANGE. IRANIAN HISTORY PROFESSOR EVAND ABRAHAMIAN (AIR-VAHND AY-BRAH-HAY-MEE-YAN] OF THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK SAYS PRESIDENT'S KHATAMI'S HANDLING OF THE ASSASINATION INCIDENT REFLECTS A DELICATE BALANCING ACT. TAPE: CUT TWO -- ABRAHAMIAN (0:29) "IF HE CAN PUNISH SUCH ACTIVITIES AND CLEARLY SHOW THAT THIS IS NOT TOLERABLE BEHAVIOR, AND IN THE PROCESS BRING THE IMPORTANT MINISTRY OF INTELLIGENCE UNDER HIS OWN CONTROL OR [THAT] OF THE PEOPLE HE TRUSTS, THAT WOULD SERVE TWO FUNCTIONS. ONE, IT WOULD PROTECT HIMSELF POLITICALLY. IT WOULD ALSO SHOW TO THE PUBLIC, THE CONSTITUTENCY THAT VOTED FOR HIM, THAT HE IS SERIOUS ABOUT PROTECTING INDIVIDUAL LIBERTIES." TEXT: PUSHING AGAINST THE REFORM MOVEMENT ARE THE MUSLIM CLERICS WHO FOLLOW AYATOLLAH KHAMENE'I, THE GUARDIAN, OR SUPREME LEADER. THEY HOLD THE BULK OF POLITICAL POWER IN IRAN THROUGH THEIR CONTROL OF FINANCES AND THE MILITARY AND POLICE FORCES. AND THEY ADHERE TO THE ISLAMIC TEACHINGS OF MODERN IRAN'S FOUNDER, THE AYATOLLAH KHOMENI. THE DIRECTOR OF THE FOUNDATION FOR IRANIAN STUDIES IN WASHINGTON, D-C, MAHNAZ AFKHAMI [MAH-NAHZ AF-KAH-MEE] SAYS THAT LIMITS WHAT PRESIDENT KHATAMI CAN DO, IN SPITE OF HIS POPULARITY. TAPE: CUT THREE -- AFKHAMI (0:44) "THE WAY THE CONSTITUTION IS STRUCTURED IS SUCH THAT IT DOES NOT ALLOW VERY MUCH FLEXIBILITY. THERE IS REALLY VERY LITTLE THAT CAN BE DONE TO BRING THE COUNTRY CLOSER TO WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT AND WHAT THE MORE REFORMIST GROUPS WANT, EXCEPT TO BREAK THE STRUCTURES, THAT IS TO BREAK THE FUNDAMENTAL RULE OF THE "VALI," OR THE GUARDIAN. EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE "VALI," WHICH IS THE GUARDIAN OF THE PEOPLE, AND HIS POWER COMES FROM GOD, NOT FROM THE PEOPLE, AND HE HAS THE FINAL SAY. AND THERE IS REALLY NO WAY THAT ONE CAN MAKE ANY SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES WITHOUT BREAKING THE UNDERLYING STRUCTURE, DOING AWAY WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF THEOCRATS, INSTEAD OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE." TEXT: NO ONE EXPECTS THAT TO HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY. BUT PROFESSOR EVAND ABRAHAMIAN (AIR-VAHND AY-BRAH-HAY-MEE-YAN], OF THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, SAYS IT MAY NOT BE VERY LONG BEFORE THE REFORM MOVEMENT CAN TRANSLATE ITS POPULARITY INTO AT LEAST SOME MORE POLITICAL POWER. TAPE: CUT FOUR -- ABRAHAMIAN (0:51) "WHEN YOU GET A LANDSLIDE VICTORY LIKE 70 PERCENT OF THE ELECTORATE SUPPORTING YOU, THAT GIVES A GREAT DEAL OF LEGITIMACY, ESPECIALLY SINCE THIS IS A REVOLUTION BASED ON POPULAR SUPPORT. IN TERMS OF INSTITUTIONS, IT OBVIOUSLY DOES NOT HAVE THE STRENGTH OF THE CONSERVATIVES WHO CONTROL THE JUDICIARY, THE SUPREME COURT, THE COUNCIL OF GUARDIANS, THE REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS. BUT IT'S STILL EARLY TO JUDGE THE LONG-TERM STRENGTH OF THE LIBERALS. AND WHEN THE NEXT "MAJLIS" [PARLIAMENTARY] ELECTIONS COME IN TWO YEARS TIME, THAT'S WHEN OF COURSE THEY WILL TRY TO CHANNEL THEIR POPULAR SUPPORT INTO AN INSTITUTION, THE "MAJLIS," IN WHICH CASE OF COURSE THEY WOULD CONTROL NOT ONLY THE PRESIDENCY BUT ALSO THE LEGISLATURE." TEXT: THE UNITED STATES HAS EXPRESSED INTEREST IN IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH PRESIDENT KHATAMI'S GOVERNMENT, PARTICULARLY ECONOMIC RELATIONS, IN PART TO BOLSTER HIS REFORM MOVEMENT. BUT PROFESSOR ABRAHAMIAN SAYS THE UNITED STATES NEEDS TO BE CAUTIOUS IN ITS SUPPORT FOR MODERATE FORCES IN IRAN. TAPE: CUT FIVE -- ABRAHAMIAN (0:47) "I THINK THE BEST THING THE U-S CAN DO IS KEEP ITS DISTANCE FOR THE TIME BEING. ESPECIALLY NOT TO BE TEMPTED TO TRY TO IMPROVE TRADE AND ECONOMIC RELATIONS. THIS COULD BE MISUNDERSTOOD VERY BADLY IN IRAN, BOTH BY THE PUBLIC AND BY THE DIE-HARD CLERICS. BY THE PUBLIC, IT WOULD BE MISSUNDERSTOOD, IN THAT THEY WOULD SEE THAT THE U-S IS ONLY INTERESTED IN THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR AND IS NOT INTERESTED IN QUESTIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS. FOR THE DIE-HARD CONSERVATIVES, IT WOULD ACTUALLY PROVIDE THEM WITH THE AMMUNITION THAT WE CAN ASSASSINATE THE PRESS AND AT THE SAME TIME STRETCH OUT A HAND TO THE WEST FOR ECONOMIC TRADE." TEXT: PROFESSOR ABRAHAMIAN AND OTHER EXPERTS BELIEVE THE MOST HELPFUL THING THE WEST CAN DO TO SUPPORT THE FORCES OF REFORM IN IRAN IS TO ENCOURGE NON-GOVERNMENTAL ELEMENTS, BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY, THAT ARE PUSHING FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. -0- 03-Feb-99 8:44 AM EST (1344 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .