Monday, June 15, 2009
Iran Situation Hard to Read
President Ahmadinejad has been a worrying factor in Middle East and world politics, with his fishing in murky Iraqi waters; his determination to acquire nuclear weapons; and his rabid anti-semitism including his astonishing denial that the Holocaust ever happened(I always find this last opinion amazing to encounter). We have read many recent reports of Iranians, especially younger women and men, smarting under absurd civil rights curbs, often relating to sharia law. Homosexuals and aldulterers can be punished, sometimes with death by public hanging.
In the build up to the election the campaign was very lively with extraordinary televised debates witnessing Ahmadinejehad casting slurs on the wife of his main rival Mousavi. Opinion polls are notoriously unreliable in Iran but most commentators predicted a win for the challenger. Was this just wishful thinking? We are so used to experts predicting our elections that it's hard to digest, in the light of such analyses, the eventual 'outcome' of a 63% win for the incumbent.
I'm sure left of centre liberals like me were not alone in greeting the result with dismay and disbelief. 'Irregularities' were cited by Mousavi who has officialy challenged the result. But I have not seen any firm evidence in the press or elsewhere, of any vote rigging. I can well believe it happened- I feel sure the Iranian president's fanaticism and that of his supporters would quell any concerns they might have about violating their theocratic democratic procedures. It certainly seems odd that turnout was so amazingly high and that Mousavi almost failed to win his own area where his support is by all accounts solid. If there has been a rigging, it has been on a mega scale. But without firm evidence, all we have is this suspicion a fiddle has been perpetrated.
I see however that the resistance on the streets has not ceased and John Lines, on Radio Four's news this morning, reported a mood of defiant resistance among the nation's youth, including cries of 'death to the dictatorship'. Iraq might not prove trhe only country in this area to experience a tragic degree of blood-letting.