Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Eeee-rahn, Numbah One

The iron cleric is now blinking. Get hot water quick.

Iran's Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Somethin' Somethin' Khamenei has agreed to a partial re-count of disputed ballots in Friday's divisive elections, although he ruled out an annulment of the vote.

Despite the Ayatollah's celestial right to govern, the presidency of Iran is far from unimportant. It is a critical part of the "managed democracy" that the ruling clerics have used to govern Iran for the last three decades. Khamenei himself is a former President. The job is important enough to have brought millions of Iranians to the polls on Friday, and thousands into the streets afterward — both supporters of the apparent loser--reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi--and members of the radical volunteer paramilitary forces who support the reelected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But the system is tricky. It actually allows the Supreme Leader to present different faces to the world. While he has strongly backed Ahmadinejad, for example, Khamenei also for a time designated one of the president's key pragmatist critics, Ali Larijani, as the point man in negotiations with the West over Iran's nuclear program.

I wonder, though, if the Obama administration wouldn't be under extreme pressure should Mousavi, the reformist, moderate candidate emerge victorious, while Iran's hard line regarding nuclear weapons is still maintained?

In dealing with Ahmadinejad, the administration has been able to gather international support and put enough pressure on Iran to at least soft-arm them into minute concessions. In the political milieu, we need to have a clear, defined enemy at the helm over there in order that we shine as the world's democratic example. And as all political establishments aim for status quo, I am suspicious of the United States' desire to truly oust Ahmadinejad.

In every fairy tale there is a clear good guy and there is a clear bad guy. Mir-Hossein Mousavi would muddy-up the equation enough to cause the administration severe migraines.

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