Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Manipulated Elections

No, I'm not talking about 2004 in the US. I'm referring to the US stance on the recent Iranian elections in which a relative unknown beat one of the political big boys of Iran. I watched the elections with some interest because of the current concerns that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons and the strident and militant language coming from the Bush Administration over this.

I decided to check out one of the regional news outlets to get a sense of how Middle East folks view the election of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Here's one take:

It may take some time before all the winners and losers in Iran's latest presidential election are identified. Nevertheless, it is already clear who the main winners and losers are.

The big winner on a tactical level is, of course, the "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei who had to wait more than 16 years to seize control of all levers of government and thus hope to exercise the near-absolute power that the Khomeinist Constitution grants him.

Now, this is pretty much what I thought, but my understanding of Iranian politics is woefully inadequate. The author of this article (Amir Taheri) lays out a very interesting analysis:

From a broader perspective, Ahmadinejad's election may well signal the beginning of the end for the domination of Iran by the Khomeinist mullahs. In recent years the mullahs have lost many positions of power to the military.

Today the military represent a majority of the provincial governors. Politicians with backgrounds in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard also form the biggest bloc within the Islamic Majlis (parliament). ...

The danger that Ahmadinejad faces is that he may get carried away by his own radical rhetoric and get the country involved in foreign adventures that it can ill afford. ...

His best bet would be to focus on the real domestic issues that have turned Iran into a ticking time-bomb. Corruption, which has run out of control in the past eight years, is not the only problem.

Unemployment is one of the key sources of resentment towards the regime as a whole.

So is poverty which, as Ahmadinejad said during his campaign, is much more widespread than it was before the Khomeinist revolution.

Two things occur to me:

First, Mr. Ahmadinejad is going to have his hands full if he intends to clean up the corruption which has been engendered by the mullahs, especially with respect to oil reserves.

Second, if in fact the Iranian military has managed to garner more power than the governing council of mullahs, the US would be well-advised to be more cautious in its mouthing off about how they intend to stop Iranian nuclear development, especially since China has already begun reaching energy agreements with Iran.

Now might be a good time for a little rational discourse amongst nations.


Blogger musalia said...

Hi there, Cabearie :), do you write fiction? That's wonderfull, I like writting too. an old alady with 58?!! never!
I'am from Portugal, Lisbon.

2:54 AM  

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