Sunday, June 14, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #31: Re-electing Ahmadinejad: Really, Iran?

File this under: Not a surprise at all.

In Iran, incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared himself winner of the recent election - noting a landslide victory, to boot - against leading rival, and last Iranian Prime Minister, Mir-Hossein Mousavi. On the other hand, Mousavi and his supporters suspect voter fraud in the electoral results.

The American press is (or was) hyping former Prime Minister Mousavi and his wife as an Obama-like team of positive change in Iran. (Both Obama and Mousavi even share cognate middle/second names.) Given the reputation of Iran for the past handful of decades, coupled with Ahmadinejad's totalitarian tendencies, along with the recent imprisonment of American journalist Roxana Saberi in Iran - I was hoping for a change in the Iranian government, too, in so much whatever semblance of democracy is allowed under that country's theocracy.

In any case, to this American outsider, the election zeitgeist of Iran feels more like 2004 America (but worse) than 2008 America. Yes, in hindsight, 2004's Bush re-election didn't bring about a feared American theology but rather an economic downturn that brings us to today's current situation. I'm just saying that this Ahmadinejad re-election essentially feels like what it felt like in November 2004 - voter fraud, fears of theocracy, a divided nation, an unknown future, etc. - albeit half a world away, in a culture that I do not fully grasp. (Then again, the United States of America is, in many regards, a sprawling country with regions and [sub]cultures that I don't fully understand right now, let alone back in 2004.)

News of riots and arrests, as well as a possible dictatorial backlash against dissenting voters, just adds to the volatility of the greater region. Iraq to the west has its own issues relating to the US-led invasion and war. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east have issues with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. (We also have to facetiously mention Turkey to the northwest getting its hoop dreams dashed by native son Hedo Turkoglu and the Orlando Magic's possible NBA Finals loss tonight.) Will there be a civil war in Iran, due to the outcome of this election and the consequences of the outcome?

If so, no matter the outcome, what about Persia?

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