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Monday, March 16, 2009

Iran: The sooner the better

What if a country held an election and only one candidate came out to play? Alleged 'moderate' Mohamed Khatami has withdrawn from Iran's election, leaving current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the only candidate for the country's June election. At least for now. Khatami claims that he will back another candidate who will eventually run against Ahmadinejad. According to Iran expert Meir Javedanfar that candidate is Mir Hosein Mousavi. According to Javedanfar, Mousavi is a much less controversial candidate than Khatami, who is seen as a polarizing figure.
Mousavi, like Khatami, is a reformist. However, there are two clear differences between them, based on their background.

One is the fact that compared to Khatami, his relationship with Khamenei is better. We should not forget that when Khamenei himself was president (1981-89), Mousavi was his Prime Minister. The two had a close eight-year working relationship. If elected, Mousavi would be able to open more doors than Khatami. The Supreme Leader will be more sympathetic to him. This would deter conservatives from creating too many challenges for him.

Secondly, those within the conservative movement who are leery of Ahmadinejad will have an easier time voting for Mousavi than for Khatami. In other words, Mousavi will be better at stealing votes from Ahmadinejad and building a viable electoral coalition.
Javedanfar goes on to describe areas in which Mousavi would differ from Ahmadinejad in policy. Here are three important areas he cites:
The Nuclear Program

The president is not in charge of the nuclear program. However, if elected, Mousavi could give the reformists a stronger lobbying position with the Supreme Leader. He could urge him to suspend uranium enrichment, or to show flexibility, if that is what he sees as critical and necessary in order to save the economy and to bring Iran out of isolation.

However, if Mousavi feels that Iran is close to the bomb, and the economic and diplomatic price is worth paying, then he may refrain from calling for more compromise.

Negotiations with the United States

It is quite likely that Mousavi would back talks with the US, as means of enabling Iran to break out of international isolation, and to help consolidate Iran's position in the Middle East.


Mousavi will be a far less controversial figure. This is an easy task, as compared to Ahmadinejad, who by comparison makes everyone else seem less contentious. If elected, it is very likely that we will see an end to questions about The Holocaust, and statements calling Israel a "dirty microbe."

However, like any Iranian president, he will support the Palestinian cause and condemn Israel's actions and policies towards Hamas and Hezbollah.

Although many Israeli officials will be relieved to hear an end to the insulting verbal attacks by Ahmadinejad, some could soon miss him. In the search for sticks, Israel, the EU and the US had to go to the United Nations Security Council. This was a long and laborious effort.

But Ahmadinejad, with his contentious statements and isolating rhetoric, was giving sticks away by the dozen, and for free. Mousavi's election could spell the end of such bargains.
Javedanfar also presents some poll results that have to make you wonder whether Mousavi has a chance of winning an election against Ahmadinejad. The answer appears to be "no." All of which leads Shmuel Rosner to push for the United States to get moving with whatever non-military action it wants to take against Iran now, and not wait for the results of June's election (Hat Tip: Martin Kramer).
So now it is quite clear: Ahmadinejad will be winning in Iran (in June). By the way, Israeli officials have been saying this for quite a while and never really believed that a "reformist" victory is in the making. If such victory is not in the cards, there's no reason to keep waiting with a US-Iran dialogue until after the election.
I don't think of this as holding talks with Iran. I think of it as convincing the Obama administration that there really is no effective non-military option that will prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons. And if we're going to have to go through that exercise, the sooner the better.


At 5:23 PM, Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

we have nothing to lose...

it's time to cause social unrest in iran...

arms, drugs & porn all need to be smuggled into Iran to destroy the islamic grip

those that see iran as a real threat need to start a humiliation of Iran and it's leaders by creating drawings, dolls & internet viral mpg's that mock and ridicule them...

They do not care about money or lives, they have an unnatural attachment to "honor" & "pride"

So use what the enemy gives you.... make fun of them...

At 8:43 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its illuminating Iran does not allow opposition even within the Islamist system. The ruling mullahs are not "moderate." Just the opposite and the sooner people accept it, the better off we'll all be in dealings with Iran in the months and years ahead.


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