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Iran's 'second-generation' Reformists off to shaky start

A new group of Reformists has aligned to form a political faction that attempts to capitalize on the Reformist platform without repeating what they view as the original Reformists' mistakes.
Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami speaks with Reuters correspondents in Tehran January 22, 2008. Khatami has withdrawn his name as a candidate for the upcoming presidential election. Khatami, who served from 1997 to 2005, oversaw a thawing in Iran's ties with the West. Those relations have since sharply deteriorated under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is expected to seek a second four-year term.  REUTERS/Caren Firouz/Files (IRAN POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTXCU5T

The latest chapter in the ongoing power struggle between Iran’s various political factions is the formation of a new Reformist group called Neda. The faction could be the much-needed impetus for the Reformists’ return to the political arena; however, ranking Reformists remain skeptical. By vowing to get closer to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the group could open some breathing room for Reformists, while at the same time disenfranchising the more radical elements of the Reformist camp.

The nascent group, which announced its decision to officially become a political faction by submitting a request to Iran’s Interior Ministry, consists of a 12-member founding board, under the leadership of Sadegh Kharazi, a seasoned diplomat and adviser to former Reformist President Mohammad Khatami. The majority of members belong to the youth wings of banned Reformist groups such as the Islamic Iran Participation Front, a political faction credited as the most dominant force within the 1997 Iranian Reform Movement, and the Organization of the Mujahedeen of the Islamic Revolution, a small, influential political faction. The prominent members of these groups were arrested and the factions were banned following the disputed 2009 presidential election.

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