Ahmadenijad’s Re-election on the Ropes?

In Foreign Affairs, politics on June 11, 2009 by Editor Z

Iranian’s Presidential election is scheduled for Friday. The incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is known for his provocative speeches and frequent statements denying the validity of the holocaust, and anti-western rhetoric. Up until recently he was thought to coast to re-election, as many Iranians who although have drifted from the authoritarian theocratic views of the Ayatollahs, the restrictions on participation with those opposed to the extremely conservative religious order have left the political discussion altogether.

But given his bombastic rhetoric and the dismal state of the economy, as well as his behavior have made the Islamic revolutionary populist’s re-election a challenge, as he now faces three other rivals chief among them ex-President Mir Hussein Moussani.

Ahmadenijad’s rhetoric and campaigning has grown increasingly strange and erratic. Recently it was said that Ahmadenijad was attempting to buy votes with potatoes and a video was recently uncovered that shows the Iranian President saying that at his 2005 speech at the United Nations a number of people claimed to see a halo around him (if this is true he was likely standing in front of a lamp). Now there is speculation that a reformist tide could sweep Ahmadinejad out of office and open the doors to relations with the West.

Now the campaign has gone to the streets. Ahmadinejad defeat is by no means a sure thing, nor will the nation’s nuclear program be likely to cease; but right now for Europe, America, and more moderate elements in the region anything is likely better then the cantankerous actions and embarrassing diatribes of Ahmadinejad.

This from the New York Times (H/T: Andrew Sullivan):

Mr. Moussavi and his supporters seem unbowed by these sorts of accusations though. Chants of “Death to America” at rallies for Mr. Ahmadinejad this week were answered by chants of “Death to the Taliban — in Kabul and Tehran” at a rally for Mr. Moussavi. The candidate’s articulate and engaged wife has even been compared with America’s first lady (though, when asked this week about her role in her husband’s campaign, she stated simply: “I am not Michelle Obama”). On the streets of Tehran, and on Flickr, the opposition leader’s green-clad supporters have been seen waving posters of him bearing the promise, in English, of “a new greeting to the world.”

That last slogan makes it clear that Mr. Moussavi shares more than just a middle name with the new American president. Mr. Obama’s speech in Cairo last week was called “A New Beginning: Engaging With Muslims Worldwide,” and throughout his own campaign, Mr. Obama argued that his country needed a new leader who could abandon the confrontational foreign policy of the previous administration. Looking at the size and intensity of the demonstrations by his supporters in Tehran this week, it is clear that Mr. Moussavi has convinced some Iranians that their time for change has come, too. On Friday we will find out if a majority of the country’s voters feel the same way.

UPDATE (6/11/09 1:36PM/ET)-
MJ Rosenberg at TPM reports that despite the constant railing of neoconservatives against the fanatical rhetoric of Ahmadinegad and claims that he is a danger to the state of Israel as well as the broader world, in the Iranian election many western neocons who were the minds and cheerleaders behind the invasion and nearly seven year military occupation of Iraq are quietly rooting for the man who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map to get re-elected, as he now finds himself an embattled incumbent.

The idiotic and self-serving rationale behind this is that if a more moderate reformist takes power (though the nation’s nuclear program as well as the nearly three decades old theocratic form of government would still remain in place), the west and Israel will be unlikely to take harsher action (including military action) against Iran.

Now it is unlikely and unforeseeable that Iran, whose national motto is basically death to America would capitulate to American and European demands or even take a more amicable approach to them. However as I have said previously anything is a marked improvement over the incumbent. Once again this is the neocons, stuck in their own utopia and willing to say or do whatever it takes to get the United States into a third war. That is except actually turn their words and disheveled illogical academic theories placed on display in the planning stages of the occupation and invasion of Iraq by actually fighting in a war. But hey in that school of thought peace is war.



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