What Happened in Iran?


Originally written on June 13, 2009.

So what just happened in Iran? The question underlies the anticipation that the media has pitched recently thrusting an aura of reformist movement under the leadership of Mousavi. There is no doubt that the sheer volume of people gathered chanting pre-election support for Mousavi was enormous. Although it is not unprecedented since Khatami’s election campaign in 1997 is said to have larger popular support, this time the green wave produced an effusive optimism of reform as if Iran’s social transformation was a matter of few days. Despite the promise, the hope collapsed and shattered in utter dismay as Ahmadinejad’s winning was received by the Supreme Leader’s blessings.

There was much reason for such level of expectation. The world was waiting as it saw the unfurling of a new tone in electoral debate in Iran. With Obama’s words in Cairo offering dialogue with mutual interest and respect for the Muslim world, many determined that a reformist in Iran’s lead can pave a comfortable bargain for all. Iran’s election within one year of Obama’s accession to power just seemed the time might be ripe for things to fall in the right places in right time, at least to actualize a long lost hope for the Middle East.

In such ambiance, the green wave and Mousavi’s wise words played the right chord to replace the acerbic residue of Ahmadinejad’s leadership. After all, the world is tired of Ahmadinejad’s frenzied acts. It is true that as Iran came under spotlight during the election, much was rightfully anticipated as the sporadic coverage of the western media revealed. As if, Iran was all about Tehran! Neither Ahmadinejad’s nor Mousavi’s actual breadth of support was perceptible in the western press.

In media, the conventional appearance of men and women supporting Ahmadinejad looked insipid in contrast to the pictorial shots of women in stylish attire with sunglasses and head-scarf exhibiting dire support for their green reformist. Although the juxtaposition had a partisan tone, the green hype among the youth in Tehran hid well the fact that Iran is beyond the northern affluent neighborhood of Tehran. The wonted Islamic identity is quintessentially entrenched in Iran from the 79’s revolution. Moreover, it is the ordinary people what matters in election and as long as you can woo them with free potatoes and low interest rate plundering oil revenues, things might work pretty well! Indeed it did for Ahmadinejad. At least, you can’t blame the rural Iranians for not having access to Facebook to join Mousavi!

That being said, it is inconceivable that Mousavi being an Azeri will lose in his bastion, Tabriz. Mousavi’s green promise undoubtedly succeeded winning million’s mind, almost in commensurate to Khatami fervor in 1997. Mousavi definitely was a prudent choice. A doubt would though persist that how much change he could actually bring weathering the conservatives- something that Khatami failed to do. Nevertheless, the West as well as the divided Arab League would have had reasons to ease in bringing peace in the Middle East. In addition, Israel would have to reason better in respect to the West’s interest which could furnish just result for Palestine.

So the question still begs for an answer. What just happened in Iran? Is it media hype or a massive rigging? Some election outcome insinuates that rigging is a high possibility but to what extent? Did the Supreme Leader eventually determine Ahmadinejad as the fait accompli leader against the peoples will? Or he is just an old chap, complacent in distance from embracing a reform and subject to Iran’s institutionalized revolution?

Whatever it is, Obama’s administration should not abandon a whit of honest effort in starting a dialogue with Iran.

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