Manifestations of the Conflict between Reformists and Conservatives in Iran 28 Apr 2016
by The ECSSR

The scale of protests heightened among the intellectual elites and the political reformists in Iran due to the blatant interferences of the revolutionary guard in political affairs. In this regard, a protest letter was sent by Iranian intellectuals to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denouncing the meddling of military officials in politics.

The letter was signed by more than 300 university professors from 72 universities expressing their rejection of the interference of some officials from different military apparatuses, notably the revolutionary guard, in internal and external political affairs. These interferences surged with the signing of the nuclear agreement with international powers few months ago. Since then, criticism directed at the revolutionary guard has been recurrent. The academic petitioners voiced support for Rouhani and his foreign Minister Jawad Zarif who played a key role in securing the political and diplomatic breakthrough that helped Iran polish its image, but they severely decried the campaigns staged by the supreme leader and the conservatives against reformist figures. They denounced the extremists represented by the revolutionary guard and its leader Mohammed Ali Jaafari who kept slamming the nuclear deal as a “humiliation” of the Iranian people.

The position of Iranian academics has always been at odds with conservative figures who are set on maintaining the grip of the supreme leader and the extremist wing allied to him. The Iranian academics also reflect the rift in the Iranian public opinion regarding the so-called “Islamic revolution” and its history. The intellectuals’ outcry is also indicative of an increasing popular dissent against the hegemony of conservatives. The letter in question could also be considered as a call to review the concepts associated with the Iranian revolution in as far as it represents an attempt to reconsider the revolutionary terminology which is no longer in tandem with the modern age and the requirements of coexistence and openness.

The letter is a call for political change and also a protest over the difficult economic conditions of the Iranian people. It shows that overcoming internal crises, requires national concord and a broader national dialogue in order to promote morals in Iranian domestic politics. Thus, the academics’ call comes at a time the Iranian military institution is witnessing disagreements within its leadership. These disagreements were voiced recently by Iranian army commander Atta Allah Salhi, who pointed out indirectly to the hegemony of the revolutionary guard over military decision-making by sending Iranian forces to foreign fronts without the army’s consent.

The content herein does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the ECSSR