Well, among other things, they allow former leaders to travel freely, involve themselves in international conferences, and engage in non-official diplomacy that bolsters the standing of their country.
Iran’s government, it would seem, is not a smart one:
Moderate former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has been barred from traveling abroad, the pro-reform Parlemannews website reported on Thursday.
“Mohammad Khatami was barred from leaving Iran to attend a conference in Japan,” an unnamed source told the website. The source did not give details.
“Khatami was supposed to leave Tehran for Japan Thursday night … to take part in a conference on nuclear disarmament in Japan.”
There was no immediate comment from Iranian authorities, or from Khatami’s allies.
Never mind that allowing Khatami to travel to a conference focusing on nuclear disarmament might have helped Iran make the case against international sanctions the United States seeks to impose upon it for its defiance of the international community on the nuclear issue.
Of course, we all know the reason for this travel ban:
Khatami publicly backed moderate defeated candidate Mirhossein Mousavi during the country’s disputed June presidential election, which reformists said was rigged to secure hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election.