Former Interior Minister Lays Out Future Strategy of the Reform Movement

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Former Reformist Interior Minister, Hojjat al-Islam Abdollah Nuri, in a meeting at his home with students from Eastern Azerbaijan, has said that “we must not wait for a miraculous event to change the atmosphere”. Numerous other Reformist-inclined activists were present at the meeting and asked questions surrounding the future of the Reformist movement and the best course of action and strategy for the future.

The Reformist daily Etemaad quotes Nuri as saying, “today for the creation of dynamic and effective relations between the Reformists and the general public, particularly with the deprived classes, their various issues and hardships must have priority over the special concerns of political activists, and more or less a comparable priority alongside these concerns. [This is] because the most basic concern and preoccupation of the Reformist movement is the destiny of the country and the people. Political and student Reformist activists across the country with the creation of a kind of camaraderie and accompaniment of the people can point out the roots of the economic problems, deprivations and backwardness.  The causes of the economic hardships and livelihood of the people must be clearly explained for society. Excessive emphasis regarding concerns it’s possible are not the first priority of the people causes us to be oblivious to the basic problems of the people and society. Our problems in truth are only a part of the difficulties of the whole of society and perhaps we don’t correctly perceive the depth of the problems and economic crises, because we were less amongst that segment of society and those individuals who were afflicted by these issues. This of course doesn’t mean that we must dilute our own concerns. Perhaps the objective is to make the public concerns of society a priority”.

Addressing the lethargy which has set into the Reformist movement since the post-2009 electoral unrest and the security forces clamping down on the movement, including the banning of two of its most important political groups, the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organisation and Islamic Iran Participation Front, Nuri said:

“If we feel that the Reformist movement is in a state of suspension, we must ask this question: who in the end must change this state [of affairs]? In my opinion no one except ourselves can do this and we must not wait for a miraculous event to change the atmosphere. Of course this issue is accompanied by many difficulties and hardships and many obstacles stand in the way, but it is important that we start and continue to move along this path with coherence and prudence, [and] distance [ourselves] from extremes…Provided that we take the real conditions into consideration and are not in pursuit of quick results our efforts with God’s grace will come to fruition”.

Regarding the Reformists stance ahead of the June 2012 Presidential election Nuri said:

“This issue is not the first priority of the Reformist movement. It is important that a modus operandi for cooperation and improving the atmosphere of political co-existence is reached. To help the correct and logical choice and preservation and protection of the national interests and demands of the people it is necessary activists, the elite, experts and all the people who believe the fundamental solution is a return to comprehensive reforms regarding political, economic, social and cultural difficulties, domestic and foreign, without emotions and on the basis of logic and a kind of transparency, partake in discussion and the exchange of views. In this movement, everyone in the form of active participation, and this participation must also be considered at the national level, meaning encompassing all the provinces and towns and not only under the consideration of a collection of activists in Tehran. The outcome of this participation and widespread dialogue can lead to the adoption of a comprehensive and final view [of the situation]”.

In this interview Nuri’s political acumen shines through. Firstly, because he recognizes, as have a number of high level Reformists, that the Reformist discourse had become elitist in demeanour and had distanced itself from basic ‘bread and butter’ issues. Similarly, he seems to acknowledge that the Reformist elite had in the past so entangled itself in obtuse intellectualizing that it had lost all connection to the poorer segments of Iranian society and their problems. His emphasis on ‘political moderation’ in view of the status quo also reflects his desire to avoid raising alarm amongst the Conservative establishment, so that the Reformists can once acquire some breathing room to resume some rudimentary political activities ahead of the June 2012 presidential election.

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Image via Etemaad