Everything has changed

Posted: June 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

UPDATE: I’m going on a vacation, so I probably won’t be posting for the next 10 days or so.

cross-psoted with FPW.

Let’s admit it – there is almost no reliable news as to what is actually happening in Iran. The pictures from the last couple of days don’t show the mass demonstrations of the first few days following the presidential elections. It seems that the number of protesters dropped from hundreds of thousands to just thousands and even hundreds. If this is so, it could be a bad sign for the reformist camp. On the other hand, the political heat is still on: Friday’s warnings from he supreme leader Ali Khamenei not only failed to calm the streets, but seemed to toughen the position of the reformist leaders – Mousavi, Karubi, and above all, Rafsanjani. Again, most of the political drama is probably happening backstage, so we can’t know anything for sure.

Western leaders – probably under public pressure – are starting to take a more committed stand on the reformists’ side. Germany’s Angela Merkel took a firm position in support of the opposition, but the UK government and the American administration still chose their words very carefully. As I wrote before, too-overt support statements could end up doing do more harm than good, but on the other hand, when Iranians are calling “death to the dictator”, the careful language of president Obama seems somewhat out of sync with his inspiring speech in Cairo.

One thing is very clear right now – the Iranian “Islamic revolution” model has suffered a tremendous blow. Even if the Iranian leadership can sort the mess without sharing power with the reformists (something which doesn’t seem very likely now), it is clear that the system as a whole doesn’t enjoy the legitimacy that everyone though it did. The Iranian leadership will have to be a lot more careful from now on, and concentrate on internal stability. It is not sure how much effort it will put on exporting the revolution, and on supporting Hamas and Hizbullah.

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Events in Iran might force Obama to change Middle East plans

Posted: June 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Don’t miss this excellent analysis by the BBC’s Jim Muir of the political situation in Iran (with notes on the growing protest’s implications on all key players).

Muir also makes an interesting point on the way the unexpected developments surrounding the elections have damaged President’s Obama’s plans to engage in a dialogue with the regime in Tehran.

For Mr Obama to have opened dialogue with Tehran under a credibly-re-elected Mr Ahmadinejad would have been difficult enough in US domestic political terms.

But American experts on US-Iran relations believe his task will be considerably complicated in Congress and elsewhere should the election be seen as rigged and the results imposed by repression.

The outcome has also played into the hands of Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government in Israel.

Under pressure to come up with what it regards as concessions on the Palestinian issue, Mr Netanyahu has tried to argue that priority should go to what he sees as the true threat to the region – Iran.

If the Iranian election crisis is not somehow defused, he will clearly find it easier to argue his case that “the biggest threat to Israel, the Middle East and the entire world is the crossing of a nuclear weapon with radical Islam” and that there should be “an international coalition against the nuclear arming of Iran”, as he said in his policy speech on Sunday.

Four more Years: Ahmadinejad Wins

Posted: June 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

cross-posted with FPW.

Events are still rolling in Iran, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared winner in the presidential elections, and there are no indications that the demonstrations of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s supporters can change that. Not with the supreme leader Ali Khemenei and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on the president’s side.

Here are some of my initial thoughts on the matter.

● Some people might see the election’s outcome as a blow for president Obama. This is true only to a certain extent. I don’t believe the American president was thinking that his speech in Cairo – inspiring as it was – will result in immediate political changes in the region. Things just don’t work this way, so we shouldn’t credit Obama for the success of the pro-western coalition in Lebanon, nor for the reformists’ failure in Iran.

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