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Symposium on Iran and Policy Options for the Next Administration: Session One: Iran's Domestic Politics (Audio)

Speakers: Ali Ansari, Professor and Director, Institute for Iranian Studies, University of St. Andrews
Farideh Farhi, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, University of Hawaii
Presider: Lee Cullum, KERA-TV (PBS)
September 5, 2008

Despite a sagging economy and a public that has grown weary of the ruling regime, Iran's conservative camps retain a firm grip on power nearly three decades after the Iranian Revolution. Farideh Farhi, an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, said at a CFR symposium on U.S. policy toward Iran that the next U.S. president should prepare to negotiate with an increasingly fractious camp of conservative Iranian lawmakers. But Ali Ansari, professor and director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of St. Andrews, said conservative infighting has not impacted the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader ability to influence the domestic agenda. The last decade has seen “the exponential growth of the leadership office,” Ansari said. “What you see is the growth of this shadow government, or this revolutionary government as oppsed to the orthodox republican organs of government, and they’ve started essentially to take over.” An examination of Iran’s budgets offers evidence. For instance, Ansari said, recent governmental spending on welfare organizations increased by 3.2 percent while spending on religious foundations more than doubled. “When you have that shift in financial wealth …it shows where the balance of power is going,” he said. “The leader is now taking on the role essentially as a monarch.”

This was part of the Symposium on Iran and Policy Options for the Next Administration, which was made possible through the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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