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Hardliner: Iran Enemies Back Reform

February 2, 2000

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ A leader of Iran’s hard-line conservatives was quoted Wednesday as saying that Iran’s enemies want reformists to win in crucial Feb. 18 parliamentary polls.

``Western-intoxicated intellectuals penetrated the constitutional movement under the pretext of reforms and deviated it from it’s path,″ outgoing Parliament Speaker Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri was quoted as saying by Mosharekat daily.

``The enemy today is pinning hopes on the upcoming legislative elections and is seriously wishing to see reformists win the vote,″ Mosharekat quoted Nouri as saying.

Iranian hardliners consider the United States their country’s main enemy.

Nateq Nouri, 56, recently said that he was quitting the legislature to serve in the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A pro-reform deputy from the Majlis, or parliament, said the conservatives have lost hope of maintaining their narrow majority in the outgoing Majlis.

``The very fact that Nateq Nouri is not contesting the elections is a manifestation of defeat and disappointment on the part of the right-wing faction,″ Elyas Hazrati was quoted as saying by the Kar-o-Kargar daily Wednesday.

Nateq Nouri was a candidate in the 1997 presidential elections and was supported by the ruling clerical establishment. He was beaten by reformist Mohammad Khatami, who was an outsider.

The Feb. 18 elections promise to be a battle between reformists allied with Khatami and hard-line clerics, who have lost ground since Khatami took office in 1997, but who still hold a slight majority in the Majlis.

The outcome of the elections will determine the future course of reforms launched by Khatami’s administration.

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