An Iranian Lesson: How to Leave Office Unlamented and Unmissed…….


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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is gone, and nobody seems to miss him, except maybe Benyamin Netanyahu, and nobody seems to regret his departure, except probably himself.
I suspect that when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, departs he will be publicly missed, no doubt, and there will be public rituals of mourning. But the average Iranian will probably not care that much. A cult of personality is not usually encouraged in Iran, and it would be hard for one to take hold anyway. Probably the Islamic nature of the regime does not encourage personality cults, at least not lasting personality cults. After all, how can any person compete with God in people’s hearts and minds? Besides, there is surely a strong desire everywhere for change: a supreme leader lasting in office for life is the best protection against a personality cult. Just look at Bahrain: the most hated person is the prime minister who has been in office for 42 years. People get tired of the same old, same old, no matter how amenable and lovable that same old, same old is (FYI: Shaikh Khalifa Al Khalifa is not amenable or lovable, never has been).
In this there is also a lesson for Arab kings, princes, and shaikhs and assorted dictators and kleptocrats (is there any other kind?). The longer you cling to power and the office, the easier the people will breathe when you are forced to leave. The louder the cheers you’ll hear when you leave office (most likely involuntarily).