December 22, 2006

Observations on the Iranian elections.

The Iranian elections, from the official newspaper:
"The massive, wise, powerful and praise-worthy turn-out of the Iranian people in the elections on December 15 was a real test of the country's religious democracy and a manifestation of the greatness of Islamic Iran," [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei] said....

"[The high voter turn-out] sent a message to the world that Iranians have bonded with the Islamic system and are determined to fulfill its goals," he added....

"The tricks played by the ill-willed failed vis-a-vis the divine will and vigilance of the nation. Another golden page was added to the epic on the faithful and revolutionary people.["]
The NYT:
“[President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] has been trying to make himself indispensable by the grandiose issues, but his fate is much more tied to these bread and butter issues,” said Vali Nasr, the author of “The Shia Revival” and a professor of Middle Eastern politics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. “It’s not a fall for Ahmadinejad, but it’s clearly a stumble; there is no momentum coming out of his election in 2005.”...

Reformist politicians beat hard-liners in at least five important city councils, including Kerman, Sari, Zanjan, Ahvaz and Bandar Abbas.

“I think the first message of people’s vote on Friday was that people still favor reforms,” said Mohammad Atrainfar, a reformist politician. “The second message was that populist appeals have failed.”...

“The significance of this election is that we now have a complete new alignment — the reformists, the Rafsanjani camp and the conservative bazaar elements,” said Abbas Milani, chairman of Iranian studies at Stanford University. “That is a de facto coalition whose purpose is to stop Ahmadinejad from doing further damage, both domestically and internationally.”

16 comments:

Tim said...

"The significance of this election is that we now have a complete new alignment — the reformists, the Rafsanjani camp and the conservative bazaar elements,” said Abbas Milani, chairman of Iranian studies at Stanford University. “That is a de facto coalition whose purpose is to stop Ahmadinejad from doing further damage, both domestically and internationally."

Wrong. The significance of this election is that we now have a complete suspension of disbelief by the willfully self-delusional in the West that truly democratic elections were held in Iran, and that the outcome represents a significant shift in Iranian policy.

What hasn't changed: The Mullahs are still in charge; they are busy beavering away on the bomb; they still support, organize and fund terrorism; Iraq, Israel and the US are still very much within their sights.

But it is critical to the worldview of so many that if only Bush and the US were more sensitive to the needs of other states, peace would break out all over the place...so they invest their hopes in the presumed rationality of the Iranian electoral system. Fools.

Derve said...

...so they invest their hopes in the presumed rationality of the Iranian electoral system. Fools

Right Tim.
Because we all know military intervention is the most effective means of reforming a country, eh?

Tim said...

"Because we all know military intervention is the most effective means of reforming a country, eh?"

Nice non-sequitur. Obviously you are well practiced at the art. The holidays must be especially painful for you.

Derve said...

No substantive response then?

Funny there's always a lot of discussing, joking, even learning around my holiday tables. Some people just eat the food and bitch, I suppose.

Cedarford said...

Tim, Derve is more "right" than you.

Iran is a limited democracy. Within the limitations they are currently under by clerical decree and by the extent of popular support for hard-liners, there is open debate and discussion on a wide range of controversial issues. If you visit Iranian blogs, you will be impressed by the extent and the sophistication of the dialogue.

Journalists and people from the West visiting Iran report life is far more open than in most Arab countries. They have some observations:

1. Disaffection with the hard-liners is very common, mostly over domestic issues like job privileges and corruption.
2. Americans are liked as a people, but most think Bush is an idiot.
3. Israel, KSA, and sunni radicals are detested.
4. Iran is one of the rare countries where there is longstanding ethnic harmony between the major groups - Persians, Azeris, Baluchis.
5. There is close to universal support for Iran's nuclear program, and many more reactors, as the Americans in the 70s set Iran on the path towards and trained the Iranians. Iranians all know that more than any other fossil fuel exporter that their fossil fuel supplies are limited. They have 30 years left of oil, a bit more of natural gas. But they have abundant uranium and want to transition to that.
6. Iran's military is modernized and now far better than any power in the region other than Turkey and - in just air and high tech - Israel's.

Any bombing by America, or any bombing by Israel with the USA held complicit to enabling Zionist aggression, would energize all democratic elements to agree with hard-liners that full war is needed and the Gulf shutdown of oil exports.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

Jeez what a load of pooh you guys are pedalling.

Who said anything about military action? How about we start with sanctions. Tim is right. The people in posititions of power have not changed, nor changed their minds. Instead we have newspapers spreading the good news that Ahmadjinedad is cripplled and so the West can go back to Britney's crotch. All is well.


Cedarford you don't need 2000 centerfuges to develop a nuclear power program.

Anonymous said...

I thought Ann made a lot of great points in this post. Not only is she a first class law professor, but she really knows her way around the Middle East!

Bruce Hayden said...

At first, it seems that reading Iranian elections is the sort of tea reading that we did trying to figure out changes in Politboro membership. But there did seem to be some important points in the NYT article.

"One, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, himself a former president, won an overwhelming victory to head the 86-member Assembly of Experts. While it has little day-to-day power, the assembly could end up choosing the next supreme leader, the religious figure whose word is virtually law."

This could be important from the theological/political point of view.

And, second, reformers were elected in some major cities, esp. in Tehran. Part of the frustration with the current leadership in Iran seems to be about corruption, and how the present system seems to encourage, and not discourage it.

I find the results somewaht enccouraging, esp. after the long discussion yesterday as to whether we have lost, are losing, are not winning, etc. in Iraq right now. With the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the fates of the two countries seem to be becoming ever more intertwined. It isn't just that Iran can screw stuff up in Iraq for us, but also that events in Iraq are having a, possibly major, effect on the Iranian population, as possibly shown in these elections in Iran.

Bruce Hayden said...

Color me naive, sceptical, or whatever, but I don't see sanctions working in Iran, esp. about their nuclear aspirations.

First, it is not clear how extreme they would have to be to work. Iran has a lot of pride tied up in this, and is presumably willing to endure at least some privation.

Secondly, this pride and nationalism is being used by those at the top to bring the country together behind them. Thus, arguably, sanctions would tend to reduce, not increase, the possibility for real political change in that country.

And, third, Iran has recently made it clear that it can screw up our plans in Iraq through its backing of some of the Shiite militias there. There is some indication that they can do a lot worse should they wish to. Indeed, it is plausible that the fairly high correlation between the recent Shiite on Sunni violence and political pressure on Iran because of its nuclear weaponry aspirations could very well be due to this.

Finally, as this election may have indicated, there is a real possibility that Iran may be moving slowly towards the Iraqi model of more secular democracy - and too much external pressure may reverse this.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

For those of you who beleive this election has any real meaning, read freedom houses 2006 assesment of Iran.

I'm not positive sanctions will work either. So what alternatives are their?

If there are none, then shouldn't we just abolish NPT?

Anonymous said...

I believe nuclear energy is a clean, safe way to solve America's dependence on foreign oil.

I also believe we must bomb the bejesus out of Iran if they continue to pursue nuclear energy.

Once we're done bombing, the War on Terror will have been won!

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

Doyle,

1. I agree, nuclear power is the most attractive, clean and safe source of energy. in the short term.

2.Only you and Derve have brought up the military option. Iran is not pursuing nuclear power. You don't need centerfuges to develop a power generation program. You also don't need specialized equipment to excavate bunkers hundreds of feet under ground.

Simple quetion Doyle, do you believe they are developing a weapons program?

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

I need to make a correction.

Above I stated you don't need centerfuges to develop a nuclear power program.

In theory this is true. In practice however, the centerfuge method is the most common and most economical.

What is in dispute is the number of centerfuges and IAEAs inability to inspect them.

A power only program requires lower grade enriched uranium than a weapons program. A difference that would surely leave its fingerprints on the centerfuges that create it. But alas we can only speculate because Iran refuses to reavel it's entire program.

downtownlad said...

Ahmadinejad is not even the one with power. It is the clerics. The President is actually a very weak political force in Iran. We've seen that previously when so called "moderate" Presidents win election and their hands are tied by the Senate.

So people who are acting like he is the next Hitler actually have very little knowledge of how the Iranian political system works.

Harry Eagar said...

What Tim said. Iran isn't a real democracy, any more than Turkey is.

Some of the other pro-Iranian comments are just bizarre, like Cedarford's revelation that ethnic harmony prevails. Tell that to the (largely suppressed) Baluchistan independence fighters. (A significant movement, in that Balochs are notoriously easy-going by Muslim standards.)

I believe one other person, besides Derve, has brought up military action, though he is not posting here. Name of Ahmedinijad. Versus Israel.

Balfegor said...

Re: Derve
Right Tim.
Because we all know military intervention is the most effective means of reforming a country, eh?


No substantive response then?

The substantive response is that sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. Whether it is in the case of Iran is open to debate. I happen to think it's not, in that particular case -- and most of the other posters here seem to agree -- but reasonable minds may disagree.

Duh.