Index

DATE=2/27/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=IRAN'S NEW LOOK NUMBER=5-45528 BYLINE=ED WARNER DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The reformers swamped the conservatives in Iran's recent parliamentary elections. But President Mohammed Khatami cautioned Iran would not change its goals, no matter what other nations may want. V-O-A's Ed Warner reports that theme was echoed in a Washington conference in which participants said the reformist victory will change the politics of Iran, but not necessarily its dealings with the outside world. TEXT: New parties, new platforms, new faces. That is how Suzanne Maloney summed up the recent reformist victory in Iran's parliamentary elections. She noted its size was stunning, continuing a democratic trend in Iran: // MALONEY ACT // The vote tallies that we are seeing so far very much mirror the tallies that we saw in the 1997 Presidential elections and in the elections for Islamic Councils - essentially city councils - that were held for the very first time a year ago in March. What we are seeing over three- years and over three elections, the Iranian people - 70-percent of them and more - have consistently voted in favor of change and in favor of reform. // END ACT // At a meeting of Washington's Brookings Institution, Iran analyst Maloney said a wider freedom has accompanied the elections. Iranians can say things in public that would have landed them in jail a few years ago. Their hard-fought political campaign differs little from one in the west. But Suzanne Maloney added that reformers are divided on various issues and therefore may not present a united front: // MALONEY ACT // This grand rainbow of reformists includes people who have fairly technocratic views of what the economy should be, which means a fairly strong private sector, a small public sector. It also includes people who have old-fashioned leftist views of the world and favor a much more active state sector in which the government takes a very direct role for the security and economic fortunes of the general public. So I think you are going to see a lot of internecine warfare. // END ACT // The new reform parliament is still only part of the government, cautioned Louisiana State University Political Science Professor Mark Gasiorowski. He noted considerable power remains in the hands of the clerics: // GASIOROWSKI ACT // The conservatives still do control a lot of important institutions: the security forces, the radio and television media. To a large extent, they control the national security council, which plays a major role in foreign policy, and even still today much of the judiciary. // END ACT // For that reason, said Professor Gasiorowski, the reformers must move with caution to avoid a backlash that could even result in a coup. The fate of Iran is yet to be decided. Professor Gasiorowski expects some degree of economic reform. Cultural change should also continue as women are freed from clerical restrictions. Foreign policy is another matter, said the professor. The United States insists on progress in three areas: terrorism, the Middle East peace process, and weapons of mass destruction. But Iran will follow what it considers its own national interest: // GASIOROWSKY ACT // Iran lives in a very dangerous neighborhood. The Pakistanis now have nuclear weapons. Who really thinks Iraq will not have them in 10- years? The Israelis, of course, have nuclear weapons and long-range strike aircraft. The U-S fleet in the Persian Gulf probably has nuclear weapons. Essentially, all Iranians feel that they need strong defense, and weapons of mass destruction as a deterrent force make a lot of sense. // END ACT // Professor Gasiorowski said Iran's reformers are not that concerned with foreign relations and have ambivalent feelings about the United States. (SIGNED) NEB/EW/RAE 27-Feb-2000 13:55 PM EDT (27-Feb-2000 1855 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .