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.

On the other hand, marketing some sort of agreement with Iran to the American and Israeli public – like the idea that Iran will become a threshold state, meaning one that has the nuclear technology and potential but not an actual bomb – would have been much easier if Mousavi was in power, and not Holocaust-denying-Ahmadinejad, with whom every deal will be labeled as a new Munich Agreement. But even here there is a positive angle: forming a moderate camp in the Middle East which will stand together against Iran’s influence – the thing Obama is trying to do – might be easier now, since the current Iranian president makes everyone in the region nervous, not just the Israelis.

● The demonstrations following the elections were the most notable outburst of the conflict between reformist and hardliners – which dominates Iranian politics – since the students protest in 1999. This is something we tend to miss. The other side is never a monolith, and sometimes internal political circumstances affect a country’s international behavior just as what we perceive as its long term strategic ambitions or interests. It is clear that the tension with the West played into the hands of Ahmadinejad, who claimed to have made Iran the region’s superpower and the center of the world’s attention. If some sort of pressure is to be applied on Iran as part of the effort to stop its nuclear program, its effects on the internal dynamics should be considered as well.

● The probability of an Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities remains very low. A week prior to the presidential elections, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, completely ruled out the possibility of an Israeli air strike. And Liberman is not known for his tendency to put out fires. It is said that Benjamin Netanyahu will dedicate a long section in his much awaited speech tomorrow to Iran, and I think he will try to send out the message that Israel is keeping all its options open, including the military one.

● Many people in the Middle East are looking east now – to see how the new American Administration – as well as the international community – deals with North Korea. If the effort to contain the threats posed by Pyongyang will be perceived as a failure, the Administration will have a much weaker hand when it tries to deal with Tehran – or with Jerusalem, for that matter.

● And Finally, upon entering his second term, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should send a bouquet of flower to one George W. Bush in Texas, for ridding Iran of its archenemy, thus ending their historic balance of power, allowing Teheran to set itself new ambitious goals in the region, and start an unconventional weapon race – something that the previous regime in Baghdad would have never allowed.

One Comment on “Four more Years: Ahmadinejad Wins”

  1. 1 Haya said at 12:35 pm on June 14th, 2009:

    Last point most interesting.