Pulpit Bulls

Policy, Politics, and What's In Between

Iran’s “Election” the Beginning of the End?

Posted by Eric on June 14, 2009

As you have no doubt heard, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has “won” a second-term in the Iranian “election” held Friday. While reformist candidate Hossein Mousavi was able to win the young and urban votes, Ahmadinejad did much better with the fraudulent and stolen votes. Mousavi should push harder for these oft-neglected groups of voters if he decides to run again.

Anyway, Iran isn’t much of a democracy so it shouldn’t really be expected that they would have much of an election. And they sure didn’t! The main question Americans are probably wondering is what this means for US-Iran relations.

There’s long been disagreement as to the exact power the Iranian presidency holds, with some suggesting that the role of president is largely symbolic and the president acts more or less as a puppet of Supreme Leader Khamenei.  However, this election really tests that hypothesis: either Ahmadinejad is powerful enough to steal an election or else the clerics think that the presidency is a powerful enough position that they need to make sure the election is stolen.

We are now seeing a tumultuous and unpredicted backlash among the Iranian population in the type of protests previously involving American and Israeli flags being burned, now directed towards the Iranian political elite. Steve Clemons speaks with an unnamed Iranian expert who thinks things will get bloody:

My contact predicted serious violence at the highest levels. He said that Ahmadinejad is now genuinely scared of Iranian society and of Mousavi and Rafsanjani. The level of tension between them has gone beyond civil limits — and my contact said that Ahmadinejad will try to have them imprisoned and killed.

Likewise, he said, Rafsanjani, Khatami, and Mousavi know this — and thus are using all of the instruments at their control within Iran’s government apparatus to fight back — but given Khamenei’s embrace of Ahmadinejad’s actions in the election and victory, there is no recourse but to try and remove Khamenei. Some suggest that Rafsanjani will count votes to see if there is a way to formally dislodge Khamenei — but this source I met said that all of these political giants have resources at their disposal to “do away with” those that get in the way.

He predicted that the so-called reformist camp — who are not exactly humanists in the Western liberal sense — may try and animate efforts to decapitate the regime and “do away with” Ahmadinejad and even the Supreme Leader himself.

This is really significant. A couple days ago experts were discussing the future of Iran-US relations in the context of either a second-term of a firebrand conservative president or a first-term of a more moderate reformist president. Now future relations hinge on a real time shakeup of stability and whispers of revolution. This is big.


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