In a speech at Tehran University, former President Mohammad Khatami urged the students to be patient in their expectations of the new administration and warned them that there are forces inside the country who are hoping President Hassan Rouhani will fail in his international and domestic goals.
“Don’t imagine that the administration can come to work and whatever it wants to do, it can,” Khatami said to the students. “There are many things it cannot do. One has to take into consideration the possibilities and obstacles, and judge realistically.”
Khatami, who faced great political difficulties from hard-liners when he attempted to implement reforms as president from 1997-2005, said, “When I put myself in the place of the officials today, I can understand how many heavy difficulties they have. There are many difficulties and abundant expectations, and there are people with either good will or ill will who fuel these expectations. But we have to see in the field of action what can be done and within that, what is a priority?”
“This administration does not have a halo,” Khatami said, referring to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claims that a “halo of light” surrounded him when he approached to podium to speak at the United Nations General Assembly. He continued, “It cannot miraculously solve every problem overnight. We should not fuel the expectations on the administration.”
On Rouhani’s attempt to ease tensions with the West, Khatami said, “The administration does not want to trample the principles and interests of the nation, but when it wants to deal with the world in a more logical manner, there are people and officials who make noise and exert pressure. This is a need for our society: If we want to create some movement in our society and make affairs better, we have to lessen the pressure to an extent, and not increase it.”
Khatami also warned the students that some are seeking to separate Rouhani from those who supported him in the elections. He added, “We have to understand that we are not traveling on smooth or straight ground.”
During his presidential campaign, Rouhani had said that he would ease tensions with the West, improve the economy and put an end to the security atmosphere that had become prevalent in the country after the contested 2009 elections and the mass arrests that ensued.
Rouhani’s administration has been attacked — albeit mildly when compared to the hard-line attacks of the Reformist era — for his outreach to the West, particularly the United States. Supporters of the administration and many who had supported him from the Reformist camp also expected the house arrest of Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hussein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard would come to an end. Adding to the criticism, Rouhani’s administration has still been largely been silent on the Oct. 24 attack on Mousavi’s daughters by security agents and his justice minister, despite having previously made statements that the administration would not interfere in the case of the house arrests.
The former president also addressed the fact that many had hoped that on Edi-e Ghadeer Oct 24 a large number of political prisoners would be released. Based on conflicting statements from the administration and the judiciary, there appears to have been a behind the scenes battle in which the judiciary won out, delaying or altogether canceling any releases of high profile political prisoners.
Khatami added at the end of his speech, “The president should also not forget his words and fail to act upon the promises that he made. We want the system to be successful, for the people’s problems to be resolved in a free atmosphere, for everyone to have an active presence and, God willing, with everyone’s help, the problems to be resolved.”