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.
What 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 â€“ 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.