The coming year is expected to be a trying year for the Iranian government, in both of elected and non-elected parts. I wanted to document and list some of the most important challenges that the Iranian government shall face in the coming year here. Here is part I.
5. Presidential Elections in the US: Ironically the presidential election in the US might prove to be more important for Iranians, than their own. An election with an outcome that many now find as fixed, but with a very important uncertainty factor: With G. W. Bush as the president, will the neo-conservatives still rule? Or will it be the middle of the way conservatives that take over again. For Iranian conservatives [hardliners, fundamentalists, you name it... ] either case shall be a very important sign: These are the people who can easily ride the waves: either war or diplomacy and they seem to be prepared for both. Projecting a majority in the parliament and the president in their hands, they are expected to show a unified approach to Iranian foreign policy towards the US.
6. Egyptian Visit: During Khatami's rule[?], Iranian foreign policy enjoyed a better relationship with the Arab countries, especially the fiefdoms of the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia, and even Jordan. The latest change came when finally, the conservative [that says a lot!] city council in Tehran, decided to change the name of "Khalid Eslambuli" [Assasinator of Sadat, late Egyptian president] street in Tehran to Intifada! [ People in Tehran are already predicting that the name of this street might change to "Jerusalem" in the near future, while people would still go about and call it by its old name Vozara!] Many are contemplating this to be a part of a more general trend in which Iran wants to be considered in league with Arabs when it comes to the peace process in the Middle East. The usual stance up to now, has been that of a lone third voice reiterating the illegetimacy of the Israeli state as a matter of principle. The first big challenge along this path is the expected visit of the Egyptian president Mobarak: A figure subject to the continual ideological damnations in Iran since he came to power. [Apparently the Egyptian side has already postponed it.]
7. Al-Qaede members: What is going to happen to all those al-Qaeda "captives" now being held in Iran, with their estimated number ranging between 300 and 600? The Americans decided to keep all the al-Qaeda prisoners of war from Afghanistan in the Guantanamo Bay prison, in a very secluded manner. That caused international and internal criticism of US in violation of the International law, however apparently the al-Qaeda captives in Iran have failed to find such good attorneys and have simply become a wild card for the Iranian Military to play every now and then. There is also sporadic news of high ranking al-Qaeda officials travelling in Iran, seeming to be causally connected to terror attacks in Iraq.
8. Nuclear Programme and the Iran-EU relationship: Iran's declaration of violation of its promises on its nuclear programme came synchronized with the stabilization of the occupation of Iraq. After a period of internal struggle [which many projected to be pointless, in fact in these matters according to constitution, the leader has the final say] Iran finally accepted to allow for tougher and random inspections of its nuclear facilities, inspections that could possibly cover everywhere in Iran. This time European Union started the aggressive dialogue, which was a sign that, EU despite being soft on human rights issues in Iran, is very concerned about her safety when it comes to nuclear weapons and possible use of them by terrorist groups. It still remains to be seen what actually comes of these inspections and dialogues, an ongoing story for some time...
9. Iraq's situation: Unfortunately for the Iranian government many of the elements that they believed first that would support them, including major Iraqi Shi'e clergy have turned their backs to them. The Iranian influence in Iraq is still very strong, and many fear that this influence can still affect the election results and the new constitution. Many Iraqis are optimistic about how their country is going to be governed in the near future. Some even expect a modern constitution and a free election supervised by the occupation forces. Challenged already on all borders by the American presence in Afgahnistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Persian gulf, the conservatives in Iran would never risk direct actions but their intrigues shall continue for some time.
I should also apologize for the disconnected nature of this post. Half of it is not my fault anyway!