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The Closing Window of Opportunity in Iran

As the post-election opposition violence in Iran becomes more intense Top Iranian leaders, including President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamani are warning outside countries not to meddle in Iranian internal affairs regarding the crackdown by Iranian police and Republican Guard paramilitary units. Iranian President Ahmadiniejad had kept silent following his remarks made right after the elections, when he compared the then mild protests to “disagreements made by people leaving a stadium after a football match”.

Iran electionsThe events transpiring in the capital during the past few days have gone far beyond “football match disagreements”, and eyewitnesses there are saying that at least 13 people have been killed and scores injured and arrested, including opposition leaders like Mir Moussavi himself . Police and Republican Guard units have been stationed en masse at locations where opposition rallies had been schedules to be held; and use of tear gas and water cannon were reported to have been used against the protestors – as well as live ammunition.

Foreign journalists who had been covering the events, and had a relatively freehand at the beginning of the protests, are now forbidden to report or film any of the violence without receiving official “permission” from governmental authorities. All that appears to be left are personal cell phones and video cameras of Iranians themselves; but even these are less capable of recording ongoing events as wireless phone and satellite networks are being jammed or closed down altogether by the government.

Foreign governments, including the U.S. Administration, have been issuing strong condemnations of the Iranian government crackdown that has included Republican Guards going past crowds on motorcycles and hitting people with weighted anti-riot batons (photo). Many protestors outside Iran are calling on the U.N. to take some form of action against Iranian government; which probably would be just about effective as it was during the Chinese government’s crackdown on student protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. Besides, what can the U.N really do, except to authorize more economic sanctions against the regime, which up to now have had very little effect?

What these events are telling the world is simply that the Iranian people, especially the young, educated ones under 40, have simply had enough with living under the edicts of the Mullahs, especially the draconian leadership of Ahmadinejad; who on more than one occasion has almost admitted that he is ready to sacrifice at least a third of his compatriots to possible annihilation should he launch a nuclear or chemical weapons attack against Israeli or American targets. Most of these young Iranians have few or no personal animosities toward either “the Great Satan” (USA) or “its Zionest proxy” (Israel). Which brings us to the point of this article, in that the rebellion these Iranian young people are making, could either result in the creation of an entirely new order in their country – with a disbandment of Iran’s nuclear armament ambitions (nuclear power for peaceful means is not a problem); or, cause a descent into an “Apocalypse Now” syndrome that will end up with disastrous results – for both their country and others as well.

The “Green Rebellion” window of opportunity can either be slammed shut or thrown wide open, with obvious benefits to all.

No Change For Iran – Mousavi Contests Election Results

No sooner had incumbent Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared himself victorious in last Friday’s election, his challenger, Mir Hossein Moussavi cried “foul” at the results of the balloting which gave Ahmadinejad 62.5 % of the total vote. Mousavi, a former Iranian president during the 1980’s and who ran under a campaign of economic and social reform, claimed that many election precincts were “managed by untrustworthy monitors”, and many of his supporters rioted in the streets of major cities afterwards.

News in Stories: Iran Elections Boston GlobeSince foreign observers were banned from the actual balloting, there’s no telling what really went on, and many people who stood in long lines for hours at polling stations; and even had their thumb ink dyed when they did get to vote, may have had their vote discarded during the actual counting period once the polls closed. An amazing 85% of the country’s eligible voters went to the polls in an election which had culminated weeks of intense campaigning by supporters of both candidates in a contest that was really a referendum on Ahmadinejad’s handling of the country’s economy, now experiencing 30% inflation and more than 17% “official” unemployment. Many Mousavi supporters were dissatisfied young Iranians, especially academics who can’t find decent jobs after completing university studies.

Ahmadinejad gave one of his usual long victory speeches on Saturday, and gave an even longer one on Sunday during a news conference where he compared the rioting to disturbances that occur “after a football match”. Football match indeed! The streets of Teheran were almost turned into a battle ground as many young protesters battled police and paramilitary personnel, and numerous vehicles and shops were set ablaze. Many of the protestors were arrested, and it was even rumored that Moussavi himself has been detained for questioning for his possible part in the rioting (and may even be under arrest). The protests, according to many observers, were nothing less than many peoples’ dissatisfaction with the way the country has been run under Ahmadinejad, and how Iran has become increasingly isolated by international sanctions due to the ongoing nuclear program; including Ahmadinejad’s tirades against Israel and his denial of the Holocaust.

News in Stories: Iran Elections Boston GlobeThe results of the election come to no surprise with Israeli leaders, and many even hoped that Ahmadinejad would win in order to continue international pressure against Iran, and especially it’s missile and nuclear enrichment program which is now said to have progressed far enough to have enough enriched uranium and plutonium for at least one if not two nuclear bombs. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to give a speech to the country Sunday night, which is said to be a response to both U.S. President Obama’s speech in Cairo, as well as the aftermath of the Iranian elections. Israel has been warned by the Obama administration not to try to “go at it alone” to take out Iran’s nuclear capability; and the country’s leadership is now fully aware that Israel’s current relations with the USA are a far cry from what they were during the Bush administration.

All in all, however, the violent protests which have occurred in many parts of Iran following the election may wind up being a “consolation prize” for Mr. Mousavi and his followers; and are an indication that all is not well in the country. There appears to be a strong “grass roots” movement that could decide it’s had enough with people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs.

GIANT HAT TIP: Boston Globe Iran’s Presidential Elections in Pictures

Lesser of two evils: Mousavi or Ahmadinejad?

46 million Iranians voted Friday in what was declared to be the first really contested election in that country since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that “lovely” man who continues to say that Israel is an “illegal” state and should be “wiped of the face of the map“, was opposed by former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, who presented himself as a “reformist candidate”, although he still backs his country’s nuclear program. What Mr. Mousavi may have meant as being “reformist” is probably similar to former president Mohammad Khatami, who was really one of the Mullah religious leaders, and said to wield the real power in the Islamic Republic, with people like Ahmadinejad only being front men.

Mahmoud AhmadinejadWhat all this means for Israel is that no great surprises were in store, no matter who would win, and that the anti-Israel rhetoric will continue, as well as the nuclear program, which went into high gear when Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005. Mousavi is even said to have begun the nuclear program back in the 1980’s.

Reform means a lot of different things to different people, especially in a country like Iran, where Sharia Islamic law is practiced to a large extent, although not to the extreme as it is in Saudi Arabia, or in the former Taliban controlled Afghanistan. What this means for Iranian women is that they are allowed to drive, not completely cover their faces (even a bit of fashion is permitted), achieve a higher education, work in most professions, and vote. The voting right by women was definitely exercised in the election, although the way many women exercised their vote was probably influenced by their husband or father (if they are not married yet). The Iranian legal system continues to try, and punish, both men and women according to strict Islamic law, meaning that people committing acts that are contrary to Islamic Law are often given the harshest punishment – including death.

It is well known that the real holder of the reins of power in Iran is the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is as bad or worse than the Ayatollah Hasni Komeni, who presided over the country following the Islamic Revolution.

Iran has a number of problems that should be dealt with by no matter who wins this election. These include a 17% unemployment rate, and an energy and industrial infrastructure that is in complete shambles. For a country with the world’s second biggest oil reserves (said to be anywhere from 14 to 25 %) it must import most of its refined petroleum products; and many Iranians still drive around old locally made versions of British Hillman Hunter automobiles from pre-revolutionary days. And at least half of the population is 27 years old or younger, making available careers for university graduates even scarcer.

In the end no earthshaking changes came about, as the “reform candidate” Moussavi didn’t win. As for people living in Israel, being prepared for the worst case scenario is a matter of acute reality in these current times.

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