Saturday, June 25, 2005
The mayor of Tehran won Iran's presidency in a landslide yesterday, using support from the country's ruling clerical hierarchy and its vast military to restore total control of the government to Islamic fundamentalists and end an eight-year experiment in reform....
Voters divided by class and ideology had gone to the polls in a battle for Iran's future, with many poor favoring the fundamentalist mayor who has vowed to end corruption and bring back revolutionary fervor. More affluent and liberal Iranians had regarded Rafsanjani, a centrist [Huh? Only compared to the guy who won. - ed.], as the last hope for reforms.
After being roundly rebuffed by voters in the past two presidential elections, conservatives regained control by painting the reformist camp represented by outgoing President Mohammad Khatami as corrupt, ineffectual and out of touch with ordinary people.
They were also helped by a trend among many opponents of the Islamic republic's religious elite to reject reform as impossible in a country where the constitution gives the unelected supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, control of the main levers of power, including the judiciary and the armed forces.
The hard-liner's victory would appear to rule out any early improvement in relations between Iran and the West, and could increase chances of confrontation with the United States over the country's nuclear program, which Ahmadinejad has praised.
In many cases, a defeat in a context like this could lead to rejectionism and even insurgency by the defeated. Unfortunately, it may well be that the hard-line position in Iraq is the populist one, even if its election victory is built on an entirely unreprepresentative foundation. Populists are particularly good at fending off civil resistance to their rule.
This election also forecloses Western options in its dealings with Iran. The problem with Iran's nuclear weapons programs is not that Iranians or even Muslims per se will control the launch codes, but that people who specifically advocate war with the United States and Israel by suicidal means will control the launch codes. A moderate government bent on rolling back the power of the mullahs and building a consumerist economy in Iran would have been deterrable as all governments who look to the future are. Unfortunately, our enemies inside Iran have consolidated their control. Any failure of the new government will morph into rage at the United States, and pressure will increase on the West to do something about it.
Bloggers: Help remind the international media to ask the hard questions!
We can talk about this until the cows come home.
On the otherhand if you actually want to do something in the Iranian peoples' struggle for freedom:
Dr. Zin of Regime Change Iran needs evdryone's assistance!