If you gave any attention to the recent Presidential elections in Iran, you might have thought that a new age of prosperity and friendship may be starting between our two countries.
In a country that has never had a fair or free election, any result that emerges must be viewed skeptically. It seems as though our media has thrown caution to the wind and decided it’s better to be overly optimistic and irrationally exuberant than to carefully examine the facts at hand.
In Iran, the President is merely a figurehead; the real power lies with the nation’s religious (and political leader), the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. New President Hassan Rowhani can make no policy decision that might actually make an impact, unless it’s first been approved by the Ayatollah. The very fact that Rowhani had the opportunity to be a part of the election process was first approved by the Guardians Council, which is controlled by (you guessed it) the Ayatollah.
The truth of the matter is that each of the eight candidates was handpicked by the Guardians Council specifically because the Ayatollah would be happy with any one of them as President!
Even the White House got caught up in the media’s Iran optimism:
“Shortly after moderate cleric Hasan Rowhani was declared the winner, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. congratulated Iranians for their courage in voting. He said Iranians were determined to make their voices heard despite the limitations the ruling government imposed on the political process. The election “took place against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly,” Carney said in a statement. He added that despite those obstacles, “the Iranian people were determined to act to shape their future.””
How about some information about who Hasan Rowhani is? He has been on Iran’s Supreme National Security Council since 1989, was the chief nuclear negotiator from 2003 until 2005 and he agrees with the current administration’s position on Iranian nuclear power. That is hardly the resume of some kind of reformist outsider, but maybe the Ayatollah’s personal feelings could show that Rowhani is a reformer.
A vote for any of these candidates is a vote for the Islamic Republic & a vote of confidence in the system & #election mechanism 4/6/2013
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) June 15, 2013
I guess not.
The government put up eight candidates that it found more than acceptable and told the people to vote for their favorite. They included seven men who were openly hostile to the West and who could all be characterized as “close” to the outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Only one of the candidates was viewed as a “moderate” or “reformer” – and surprise! — he’s the one who got elected.
I think the bigger story here is the fact that the moderate reforming Rowhani “only” got 50% of the vote. What the vote tells me is that about half of the voting public in Iran want a hard-line, conservative and extremist as the figurehead in their government.
The reality of the situation is this: the media and the Iranian people have just been rickrolled by a government that has been manipulating their own people for years. Hasan Rowhani is just a different brand of the same flavor condiment that Ahmadinejad was.
Hasan Rowhani is exactly the candidate the government was hoping would win the entire time.