Saturday, June 25, 2005

The popcorn you are eating has been pissed in. Film at 11.

By now it's unlikely that anyone will not have come across the news regarding the Iranian election results.

It's a pretty queer result. I'm not sure what explains it, to be honest, though various things spring to mind as possibilities.

1) The version being offered by the Beeb, Reuters etc is that "it was the economy, stupid."

2) In spite of the pleas of their leaders, the reformists were simply not prepared to come out and vote for Rafsanjani, even to prevent a greased-up fascist monkey-boy taking over the shop - no French-style "Better a crook than a fascist" manoeuvring here.

3) It was a straight up fiddle on the part of the powers that be.

4) The reformist pro-Western movement within Iraq either a) has been oversold by exile groups with their own agenda to credulous Westerners who believe it because it's what they want to here or b) is only part of a more complicated situation in which there is a significant but largely silent demographic group [possibly a rural/urban split] that is anti-reform and has previously received insufficient acknowledgment in Western calculations.

I really don't know.

Roger Simon has been rather strident for my tastes over the past months but I think his irritation here is justified:

The New York Times seems to accept that Iran had a real election and that the "reform movement" was actually a reform movement, not another branch of the Mullachcracy. I don't know the extent that they are incorrect (there are nuances, of course), but not to explore this strong possibility--and that the entire election was a charade--strikes me as the sloppiest of reporting... and almost willfully shallow.

The turnout was rather low - especially in comparison with the first round. But in spite of having gone over things like the Iraq election with a fine toothcomb (reasonably enough) very few print media sources seem to be prepared to entertain the notion that a) the election was, in fact, broadly seen as illegitimate by a large swathe of the public or that b) the whole thing may actually have been a gigantic setup. Instead it seems to be pretty much a given that it was perfectly legitimate and representative. This is annoying, may well not be justified and, if not justified, does a disservice to the people within Iran who feel screwed over and oppressed by their government. Greater breadth would have been more balanced, more useful and more professional.

On the other side of the fence, the Counterterrorism Blog is pretty solidly of the view that my Option 4 is closest to the mark:

From the same crowd who promised us Iraqis dancing in the street and welcoming us as liberators, another cornerstone of the neocon delusional reality has crashed back to earth. I refer of course to Iran's election yesterday, which provided a relatively unknown hardline fundamentalist a decisive victory with over 60% of the vote. Last Monday I appeared with Daniel Pipes on the MSNBC show, "CONNECTED". Pipes described Iran as a place where most of the people are pro-US. Pipes and other neo-con luminaries, such as Michael Ledeen, have pushed the nonsense that Iran is filled with a bunch of neo-westerners eager to throw off the shackles of Islamic extremism. Whoops! Yesterday's election confirms that the force of Islamic fundamentalism remains very strong in Iran.

I think there may be a greater or lesser degree of truth in this. That said, it fails to take into account the collapse in turnout and it seems to me there remains a large number of questions that need answering before formulating anything concrete..

UPDATE: Daniel Nexon also wonders what the heck is going on.


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