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The Jehoshua Novels


March 2nd: Iran Goes To The Polls

Iranians are voting in their parliamentary elections right now in a contest that the moderate Green Movement has boycotted over the house arrest of many of the movement’s leaders – leaving the contest between hardliners and even-more-hardliners. After I recently admitted my ignorance as to what was really going on in these elections, Cheryl Rofer and JPD came through with some great backgrounders, which you can read here, here, here and here. As I read it, low turnouts or obviously made-up high official voting figures may well spark a new round of protests but in any case infighting between the various conservative factions will intensify in the run-up to next year’s presidential alection. All of this, of course, will affect how Iran deals with the West and thus the likelihood that the pro-Israel drive for war will succeed in its aim. I’m hoping Cheryl or JPD will be able to give us some analysis when the results are announced.

6 comments to March 2nd: Iran Goes To The Polls

  • Cheryl Rofer

    I’ve mostly been tracking is Iran’s nuclear program and international reaction to that. What some of that material I’ve been supplying Steve says is that 1) a big turnout is very important to the regime to demonstrate its legitimacy both internally and externally and 2) don’t expect any surprises in who wins. From the reports I’ve seen so far, it’s clear that they’re putting a lot of work into point 1.

    So I’m far from an expert on this, but I’ll see what I can do.

  • JustPlainDave

    Parisa Hafezi & Zahra Hosseinian | March 3 | Tehran

    Reuters – Iranians wrapped up a parliamentary election likely to reinforce Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s power over rival hardliners led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    Iranian leaders were looking for a high turnout at Friday’s poll to ease a crisis of legitimacy caused by Ahmadinejad’s re-election in 2009, when widespread accusations of fraud plunged the Islamic Republic into the worst unrest of its 33-year history.

    Iran also faces economic turmoil compounded by Western sanctions over a nuclear programme that has prompted threats of military action by Israel, whose leader meets U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House on Monday.

    The vote in Iran is only a limited test of political opinion since leading reformist groups stayed out of what became a contest between the Khamenei and Ahmadinejad camps.

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    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • JustPlainDave

    Parisa Hafezi & Mitra Amiri | March 3 | Tehran

    Reuters – Iran, under intense Western pressure over its disputed nuclear programme, on Saturday declared an initial turnout of 64 percent in a parliamentary election shunned by most reformists as a sham.

    Iran’s Islamic clerical leadership is eager to restore the damage to its legitimacy caused by the violent crushing of eight months of street protests after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a 2009 vote his opponents said was rigged.

    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who endorsed the 2009 result, has since turned sharply against Ahmadinejad. Some early results from Friday’s vote suggested the divisive president’s supporters were losing ground in the 290-seat parliament.

    His sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad, failed to win a seat in their hometown of Garmsar, the semi-official Mehr news agency said. Elsewhere, Khamenei loyalists appeared to be doing well.

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    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • JustPlainDave

    Hooman Majd | March 2

    NYT – THERE’S an old saying, attributed to the British Foreign Office in colonial days: “Keep the Persians hungry, and the Arabs fat.” For the British — then the stewards of Persian destiny — that was the formula for maintaining calm; it still is for Saudi Arabian leaders, who simply distribute large amounts of cash to their citizens at the first sign of unrest at their doorstep.

    But in the case of Iran, neither America nor Britain seems to be observing the old dictum. Keeping the Persians hungry was a guarantee that they wouldn’t rise up against their masters. Today, the fervent wish of the West appears to be that they do exactly that. Except that the West is doing everything in its power to keep the Iranians hungry — even hungrier than they might ordinarily be under the corrupt and incompetent administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    It is no surprise that the March 2 election — Iran’s first national poll since the disputed one of 2009 — was held without any excitement on the part of middle-class voters or the participation of liberals opposed to the regime. Such candidates have been systematically eliminated from the political scene, accused of being Western stooges or traitors.

    Western sanctions, once “targeted” and now blanket, are turning into a form of collective punishment. They are designed, we are told, to force the Islamic government to return to the nuclear negotiating table. Western politicians also seem to believe that punishing the Iranian people might lead them to blame their own government for their misery and take it upon themselves to force a change in the regime’s behavior, or even a change in the regime itself. But as the old British maxim recognized, deprivation in Iran is a recipe for the status quo.

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    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • JustPlainDave

    Marcus George | Dubai | Feb 29

    Reuters – As international pressure mounts on Iran over its disputed nuclear program, the leadership is seeking to bolster support with rousing revolutionary rhetoric.

    State-run newspapers, websites and television channels talk incessantly of plots by Iran’s “foreign enemies” to bring the Islamic Republic crashing to its knees.

    Official media is doing its best to get people behind Friday’s parliamentary election — a ballot from which most pro-Western reformist parties have been banned.

    Much scorn is poured on the United States, an enemy of Iranian revolutionaries since a 1953 coup ushered in the U.S-backed Shah’s rule, which ended in 1979.

    “U.S. dreads turnout in the elections,” said a headline on Press TV, an English-language state television channel and website.

    State broadcaster IRIB has shown old footage of young conscripts fighting in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. The pictures were followed by an interview with a patriotic Iranian urging people to vote.

    “Any vote cast at the ballot boxes is a punch in the eye of the enemy,” he says.

    The enemy in general is a mixed bag of the United States, Israel, European powers, and Gulf-led Arab states opposed to Tehran.

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    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • JustPlainDave

    Parisa Hafezi & Hashem Kalantari | Tehran | March 4

    Reuters – Loyalists of Iran’s paramount clerical leader have won over 75 percent of seats in parliamentary elections, a near-complete count showed, largely reducing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a lame duck in a contest between conservative hardline factions.

    The outcome of Friday’s vote, largely shunned by reformists whose leaders are under house arrest, will have no major impact on Iran’s foreign policy including its nuclear dispute with the West. But it will give Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s camp a significant edge in the 2013 presidential election.

    The widespread defeat of Ahmadinejad’s supporters was likely to erode the authority of the president, under fire from Khamenei’s allies for challenging the utmost authority of the supreme leader in Iran’s multi-layered ruling hierarchy.

    With 90 percent of ballot boxes counted, Khamenei acolytes were expected to occupy more than three-quarters of the 290 seats in the Majlis (parliament), according to a list published by the interior ministry.

    In the race for the 30 seats in the Islamic Republic’s capital Tehran, a Reuters tally of unofficial preliminary returns showed Khamenei supporters had taken 19 and pro-Ahmadinejad candidates the rest.

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    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

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