VANCOUVER, March 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
The Iranians and millions of people across the globe are preparing to welcome Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on March 21, to celebrate the arrival of the Spring and face a new year ahead with the hopes of prosperity, peace and happiness for all.
In Iran, however, the occasion has found even deeper importance since the establishment of the Islamic Republic regime in the country 36 years ago, as the nation's aspirations for freedom and a better future have been stifled by the ruling regime's repressive domestic policies year after year.
Furthermore, the radical religious ideology that the Islamic republic leaders have followed towards Iran's neighbours has become one of the root causes of many of the calamities that the Middle East region is currently facing.
And as the negotiations between Iran and world powers to end the crisis over the Tehran regime's nuclear program reach a climax in the coming days, one can only hope that this year's Nowruz will be the beginning of a new era for the nation to celebrate its return to the international community, after decades of isolation and devastating economic sanctions.
However, given the nature of the ruling establishment in Iran, where the medieval powers of its religious supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei can overrule the wishes of the people, uncertainties still remain, as he has on more than one occasion shown his opposition to the decade long negotiations.
The issue becomes even more cause for concern, as Iran's political factions are engaged in an intense rivalry as to who should succeed Khamenei when he leaves the stage.
Suffering from prostate cancer, as widely reported in national and international media, Khamenei is effectively a political hostage to the whims of Iran's hardliners and the top brass of the Revolutionary Guard.
This week's election of the ultra-conservative 84-year-old Ayatollah Yazdi as the chairman of Iran's Assembly of Experts, is an indication that the hardliners in the country are still a major obstacle to the nation's peaceful transition to democracy and the rule of law.
The powerful religious body is tasked with choosing the next supreme leader, vetting legislative and presidential candidates, supervising elections and approving the bills passed in the Iranian parliament (Majlis), the very political domains that President Rouhani's government must reform to fulfil his election promises.
The self-declared reformist Rouhani has made the removal of the economic sanctions on Iran through a final deal on its nuclear program the main priority of his presidency. However, it is now clear that President Obama's administration has taken over the role of conducting the negotiations that aim to arrive at this deal, effectively establishing a certain diplomatic link with Tehran in the process.
The development has presented the Iranian leadership with a dilemma. For decades the clerical regime has sought its "legitimacy" at home and abroad from its "anti-Americanism".
As such the rapprochement with the US is seen by Iran's hardliners as a "capitulation" and abandoning the "principles of the Islamic revolution," thereby undermining the regime's "revolutionary" stance in the Islamic world.
At the same time the "open letter" by 47 Senate Republicans to Iran's leadership that threatens the annulment of any nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran once President Obama leaves office, can further be played into the hands of Iran's hardliners who are bent on derailing any agreement that gives Rouhani an upper hand over his conservative opponents.
However, although the prospect of a final nuclear deal still hangs in suspension, the Iranian people remain hopeful that the spirit and message of Nowruz will prevail in their new year and not be disrupted by those who want to impose their short sighted personal interests over the wishes of an historic nation of 80 million people for democracy and progress.
Behrooz Behbudi, email@example.com