Thursday, June 11, 2009

Will It Make A Difference If Ahmadinejad Loses? (Updated)

According to Con Coughlin--executive foreign editor of the Daily Telegraph in London and the author of "Khomeini's Ghost: The Iranian Revolution and the Rise of Militant Islam"--it really doesn't make a difference who wins Friday's election:
Thus, for the past two elections to the Majlis (the Iranian parliament) the Revolutionary Guards -- who are controlled directly by Mr. Khamanei -- have carefully vetted all the candidates to ensure only those with the right revolutionary credentials are allowed to stand.
Now the regime, in the form of the Guardian Council, which is charged with upholding the tenets of Khomeini's revolution, has employed the same tactic ahead of the presidential election: Of the original 475 applicants only four candidates have survived the cull. All of them have revolutionary credentials beyond reproach.

There is of course the 52-year-old Mr. Ahmadinejad. He is widely expected to win re-election.

Mohsen Rezaie, 55, is a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards. He is subject to an international arrest warrant issued by the Argentine goverment in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires which killed 85 people and injured 151.

Mir Hossein Musavi, 67, is a conservative hard-liner who served as Iran's prime minister under the Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s and frequently clashed with Khamenei, then the president of Iran, over various issues including improved relations with the U.S.

Finally there is Mahdi Kharroubi, 72, a former speaker of parliament. He enjoys the distinction of having been a close confidant of both Khomeini and Mr. Khamenei.
Hizbollah's loss in the Lebanese elections will not restore stability to that country, but the fact that they did lose gives hope for the future--something that we will not have about Iran regardless of who wins.

It will just give Obama someone else to talk to.

UPDATE: Regarding Mousavi, whom the media regards as a moderate, Michael Ledeen writes that Mousavi is a less than charismatic man; it is his wife who is dynamic--speaking in public about reform. Ledeen then asks:
What does it all mean? The (for the moment, at least, largely unanswerable) questions are fascinating and important:

— Why hasn't Supreme Leader Khamenei shut her up?

— Would a Mousavi presidency matter anyway?

— Would Mousavi's opponents accept his "election" (Iran has circuses, not real elections, and cheating is not only easy but part of the circus)? Or would they take to the streets?

— Would Mousavi's supporters accept his defeat? Or would they take to the streets? Hell, they have already taken to the streets . . .

Ahmadinezhad seems to be in real trouble, and some of his supporters appear to have rallied round Mohsen Rezai, the former Revolutionary Guards commander.
Iran seems to have wanted to make Lebanon more like itself. How ironic if in the end Iran becomes more like Lebanon.

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