Monday, July 03, 2006

Institutions Without Productivity

Davoud Hermidas Bavand, Rooz Online:
The leader of the Islamic regime recently formed the Foreign Relations Council of Iran, which has led to varying interpretations and analysis of its role and composition. Some have said that the council can play an effective role in the foreign policy formulation of the country. Experience and history, however, say something else. Other similar organization have existed such as, the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and International Studies (of IPIS), Center for Strategic Studies connected to the State Expediency Council, the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies affiliated to the Foreign Ministry, and the Center for Strategic Studies connected to the Majlis (Iran’s Parliament). These are all operational organizations. In addition, there is also the Supreme National Security Council of Iran. But the decision making process in Iran is not such as to allow these centers to exert an effective influence over actual decisions or events. The final official decisions that emerge do not conform to the findings and proposals of these centers. The most these groups accomplish is to hold seminars and reports. And what they end up with are simple proposals.

The only unique feature of this new body is that the members that have been selected to comprise its management are equally divided between the ideologues and fundamentalists. But even this does not mean that the center will have an effective impact on the foreign policy of the country.

The actual wording of the leader regarding the formation of this center is to ‘assist long-term decision and search for new horizons in the foreign relations of the Islamic Republic.’ This clearly suggests the ‘assistance’ type of work that is expected of it, not actual decision-making or any executive functions. READ MORE

So even though the leader is free from responsibility, decisions are made under his supervision. Just as even the Supreme National Security Council acted differently from the views of the president during Mohammad Khatami’s presidency.

This is why the question really becomes why add another advisory body?

In the new correlation of power in Iran, this center will pin those that have been named to this center from the ideologue circles against the fundamentalists. So this is just an external manifestation of the new power arrangement that has been made, and decisions will continue to be made elsewhere in view of the new power realities in Iran.

Dr Davoud Hermidas Bavand is a university professor at various institutions of higher education in Iran who has also worked at the UN’s International Law Commission representing Iran.