UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 23, 2009

IRAN ELECTIONS CONT'D. . .

Aljazeera - There are some powerful elements among the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - the all-powerful army created by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 - who are sympathetic to reformists including Mousavi. Moreover, the sheer size of the opposition and the bloodshed on the streets of Tehran may convince some senior commanders that they do not want to be involved in the continuing bloodshed in any way. They well remember how the Shah's powerful army collapsed because of the disobedience of the soldiers who refused to follow the "shoot to kill" orders. . .

A more serious challenge comes from some senior clerics in Qom, the seat of Shia Islamic theology and jurisprudence where all major seminaries have been traditionally located. Senior ayatollahs, some of whom are members of the Assembly of Experts – a clerical body charged with the selection of the Iranian supreme leader and supervising his performance – have expressed serious concern, publicly and privately, about the current events. . .

Some senior clerics such as Ayatollah Sane'i, Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani and Ayatollah Mousavi Ardabili – the latter being the Islamic Republic's former chief justice - are concerned that the Islamic state is under threat, and if the government authorities do not treat people with dignity, the Islamic system will collapse and the argument of those secular elements in the Iranian society who believe Islam and democracy do not agree, will prevail.

From their point of view, this is the most serious threat the Islamic state has faced since its foundation in 1979. They believe the long-term interests of the Islamic state must be preferred over the short-term interests of government authorities.

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri - a dissident senior cleric who used to be Ayatollah Khomeini's designated successor in the 1980s and has a strong following in Isfahan and Qom - has vigorously condemned the authorities for their crude behaviour towards the protesters. He even issued a religious decree declaring the killing of protesters "forbidden".

Esam AL-Amin, Counterpunch - More than thirty pre-election polls were conducted in Iran since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his main opponent, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, announced their candidacies in early March 2009. The polls varied widely between the two opponents, but if one were to average their results, Ahmadinejad would still come out on top. However, some of the organizations sponsoring these polls, such as Iranian Labor News Agency and Tabnak, admit openly that they have been allies of Mousavi, the opposition, or the so-called reform movement. Their numbers were clearly tilted towards Mousavi and gave him an unrealistic advantage of over 30 per cent in some polls. If such biased polls were excluded, Ahmadinejad's average over Mousavi would widen to about 21 points.

On the other hand, there was only one poll carried out by a western news organization. It was jointly commissioned by the BBC and ABC News, and conducted by an independent entity called the Center for Public Opinion of the New America Foundation. The CPO has a reputation of conducting accurate opinion polls, not only in Iran, but across the Muslim world since 2005. The poll, conducted a few weeks before the elections, predicted an 89 percent turnout rate. Further, it showed that Ahmadinejad had a nationwide advantage of two to one over Mousavi. . .

Ahmadinejad is certainly not a sympathetic figure. He is an ideologue, provocative, and sometimes behaving imprudently. But to characterize the struggle in Iran as a battle between democratic forces and a "dictator," is to exhibit total ignorance of Iran's internal dynamics, or to deliberately distort them. There is no doubt that there is a significant segment of Iranian society, concentrated around major metropolitan areas, and comprising many young people, that passionately yearns for social freedoms. They are understandably angry because their candidate came up short. But it would be a huge mistake to read this domestic disagreement as an "uprising" against the Islamic Republic, or as a call to embark on a foreign policy that would accommodate the West at the expense of Iran's nuclear program or its vital interests. . .

The U.S. has a legacy of interference in Iran's internal affairs, notably when it toppled the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953. This act, of which most Americans are unaware, is ingrained in every Iranian from childhood. It is the main cause of much of their perpetual anger at the U.S. It took 56 years for an American president to acknowledge this illegal act, when Obama did so earlier this month in Cairo.

Therefore, it would be a colossal mistake to interfere in Iran's internal affairs yet again. President Obama is wise to leave this matter to be resolved by the Iranians themselves. Political expediency by the Republicans or pro-Israel Democrats will be extremely dangerous and will yield serious repercussions. . .

1 Comments:

Blogger Tom said...

Interesting take on the election. Video: Iran Election Questions: Noam Chomsky's Speculation

June 23, 2009 6:41 PM  

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