Monday, June 15, 2009

Post-Poll Iran: Chaos and Confusion

Ever since the results of the Iranian Presidential elections have been out, there has been total mayhem in Iran. The re-election of Hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has literally brought the entire Iran on a violent standstill where the supporters of Ahmadinejad’s defeated rival Mirhossein Mousavi took to the street and clashed with police as well as with the supporters of Ahmadinejad. The capital city Tehran and several other cities have turned into battlegrounds between the protestors and the police.

Moderate ex-premier Mousavi cried foul over election irregularities after Ahmadinejad won by almost 63% of the vote. He warned of the “dangerous scenario” the vote had created, as some of his protesting supporters were beaten up by the police.

On Sunday, Ahmadinejad gave a victory speech to tens of thousands of his supporters who gathered at the capital’s Vali-e-Asr square. Ahmadinejad described the elections as clean and fair, and dismissed complaints by defeated candidates as “sour grapes.” He also mentioned that there would be no change in Iran’s nuclear policy and warned any country that attacked Iran with dire consequences.

Ever since the election results have been declared, the situation in Iran is getting worse day by day. The situation only got more complicated when the all-powerful supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed Ahmadinejad’s victory as a “feast.” This single remark dashed the hopes of the moderates to the ground and clearly showed who the high command of the nation was in support of.

What is most noteworthy is the way the government has reacted to these protests. The police went out of its way to detain the protestors. In the various clash between the police and the pro-Mousavi protestors, many people including women and children have been injured. Journalists who were filming the incidents were briefly detained by the police. And mobile phone messaging was blocked in an apparent attempt to stifle one of the main communication tools of the Mousavi supporters. Till now it is reported that the police have detained more than 100 reformers, including the brother of former President Mohammad Khatami.

Ahmadinejad’s victory has left the Western powers in a not-so-happy state of mind. Among all the Western major powers, France has come out with the strongest statement where it mentioned that the shaping of events in Iran is “not good news for anyone.” French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said that the repression of opponents was closing off dialogue.

But the worst affected among all the Western powers was the United States. Ahmadinejad’s victory has complicated matters for the Obama administration’s engagement plans with Iran. But experts also hinted out that there could be no reversal of the new US policy towards Tehran. It was hoped that a moderate President in Tehran might have helped cement better ties with the US. But now that Ahmadinejad is back in power, the US plans to engage the Iranian government “whether it is led by one faction or the other.” For this, the US will have to keep their fingers crossed!

Today Iran’s condition has huge global implications. Apart from the jinxed nuclear policy controversy, the question of oil is also a big matter. One over which Washington has allegedly its eyes on for a long time. The return of the hardliners is an implication that radical liberal reforms might still elude Iran for some time now. But we surely hope that Iran’s conditions change for the better as soon as possible. If not for the world, then at least for its people.

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