Politics in the Middle East are approaching a critical point, and with the end of the Iran-Iraq war, leadership may be changing, a political expert said Wednesday.
Bill Miller, executive director of of the American Committee on U.S.-Soviet Affairs, spoke to a group of Brigham Young University students during Mideast Week, which is being sponsored by the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies."A revulsion about the Shah's regime brought (Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini) to power in the first place. The fact that the ayatollah came to power is an accident. It is not something that came from the root of the people," Miller said. "He became a symbol because there was an absence of other symbols. The Iran-Iraq war has destroyed whatever attraction he may have had to lead the nation, so what we have 10 years after the ayatollah came to power is really the end of that moment."
Policies and governments in the Middle East are changing at "breakneck" speed already, he said. Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat's recent attempt to visit the United Nations is a sign of that.
There may soon be a realignment of ideas in Iran, Miller said.
"What the Iranian people were seeking was a decent leader. What they got was worse than what they gave up," he said. "The possibility for new structuring, for new ideas that will present a better world are certainly among the possibilities those governments can face. The ayatollah magic is gone. His message has been discredited. He lost the war. In many ways, he's preparing to leave."
Before he became involved with American-Soviet affairs, Miller was staff director for three Senate committees, including the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Committee on Presidential Powers and Emergency Powers.
Miller was a Foreign Service representative in Iran from 1959 to 1964 and was sent to Tehran as a special emissary under the Carter administration during the hostage crisis.