Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iranian post election blues

The world watches as the election saga drags on in Iran.

If anything, it destroys whatever moral authority that the authorities might claim to have and makes it look something like the Myanmar junta. The authorities could have at least saved their credibility by recounting the votes, but their refusal to recount destroys most of their credibility.

But even then, it is difficult to say who would win even if this was truly an absolutely fair contest. The reformers have the support of the more liberal urbanites, while Ahmadinejad and the conservatives have the backing of the more conservative rural people.

Now the question is, what is Iran going to end up in? There have been 3 possible outcomes for this kind of revolution in the last 50 years:

- Military coup, like what happened in 1979
- A long standing urbanite vs rural tension like what is going on in Thailand
- The regime becomes a Stalinist kind of state.

Neither is going to happen anytime soon, but given another 10-20 years this could well happen.

The presence of a nuclear program, tension with Israel and the US only adds to the complications. The prospect for military conflict looms in the background. Who knows, the regime might even try playing brinkmanship to distract the populace from the political troubles.

How then? Nobody knows for sure. Naturally the international community hopes that someone with better priorities (economy > nukes) comes up, but from the looks of it not anytime soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Iranian elections

Now we have Mir Hossan Mousavi, said to be a reformist, vs Ahmadinejad, a ideologist. There are another 2, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezhaei, the ex IRGC chief, but these seem to be minor players.

From a Western and perhaps international standpoint, hopefully Mousavi or Karroubi wins and the ideologist rhetoric, belligerent stand and nuclear weaponeering will be reduced, and the economy will improve. As for China and Russia, its not immediately clear who they would support.

The problem is, nobody knows who is going to be elected, especially if the 2 major contenders, Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, have different power bases. Also, Mousavi and Karroubi don't exactly love the West either, as seen by their track record while in power.

The question of corruption also hangs over the election. With corruption being quite rampant in Iran, its not unlikely that someone's going to try to rig the election too.

Let's also not forget that the supreme leader, Al Khamanei isn't elected and isn't answerable to anyone.

So far, the international community has been shooting itself in the foot by using sanctions which affect everyone and not just the regime. This, in addition with historical hatred going back to colonisation and the Shah, means that Iranian attitudes towards the West may well be hostile.

Will international hopes then be justified that Iran's belligerent stance is going to decrease? Hard to say.