Years after ex-president Mohammad Khatami was barred from media and public appearances, his camp has found a way to communicate his messages to the public.
Online media, including Rouydad24 website on September 7, quoted reformist academic Fayyaz Zahed as saying that Khatami told him in a recent meeting that "Reformism does not mean opposition to the Islamic Republic system." Fayyaz said that Khatami is still preoccupied with the idea of reforming the Islamic Republic.
Iran's reformists and their de-facto leader Mohammad Khatami, who has never announced himself as a leader, fell out of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's favor long before the end of Khatami's presidency [1997-2005]. However, Khatami was forced into isolation after the disputed re-election of conservative candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 and the ensuing protests.
Since then, Khatami's presence was limited to rare appearances in rare electoral events and in YouTube videos where he called on voters to take part in elections. Even this worked against him when in the 2016 parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections the list he advocated included several ultraconservatives with a reputation as thugs.
Meanwhile, the extremely poor and counter-productive performance of the reform faction in the parliament between 2016 and 2020, put the final nail in the reform movement's coffin as many reformist analysts have observed in numerous articles since 2020.
This, along with disqualification of reformist candidates by the Guardian Council, brought their share of the votes in the 2021 election to a humiliating 3 percent.
Reformist academic and political activist Fayyaz Zahed
Fayyaz Zahed quoted Khatami as saying that "Iran's reformist are not in a position they deserve to be. They need to revise their ideas in many areas including their relations with the people. Khatami has also said that reformists need to re-organize."
According to Rouydad24, Zahed was in a meeting with Khatami on September 3 when they discussed current affairs and the reformists. Fayyaz said that "Khatami's main preoccupation is preserving the Islamic Republic." He said Khatami is loyal to the regime and feels indebted to the regime and the legacy of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.
This has been an important dividing issue in recent years among Iranian political activists at home and abroad. Those favoring regime change argue that Iran’s reformists wrongly think that the clerical-military system can be reformed, and Khatami is in fact the leader of this faction.
Khatami stressed on the rule of law within the Islamic Republic in his meeting. He said that Islam cannot support despotism, Zahed observed and added that Khatami still believed in his theory of dialogue among civilizations.
Oddly enough, Fayyaz said he is not allowed to share Khatami's ideas about reformists' political activity! He only explained that Khatami believed that reforms were the least costly way of correcting governance in Iran.
Other reports on Wednesday indicated that the regime under Khamenei was not even prepared to accept moderate conservatives such as Former President Hassan Rouhani. One report observed that the ultraconservative-dominated parliament still openly brands the Rouhani administration as the culprit for the current economic crisis in Iran. This is an accusation also made several times by President Ebrahim Raisi and his vice presidents and cabinet ministers.
The report observed that although some reformist figures such former vice president Es'haq Jahangiri have become more vocal recently, Iran's conservatives are quick to respond with more accusations, calling on former officials to keep their mouths shut.