Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iran’s Elections: Why Arab Leaders Want Ahmadinejad to Win

Iran’s presidential elections are scheduled for June 12. Although yet to formally declare his candidacy, incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is fully expected to seek re-election. While the “Principalist” coalition thus seems settled on fielding a single candidate, the contest to head the “Reformist” list has proven much more dynamic.

Long assumed to be Ahmadinejad’s primary rival, former president Mohammad Khatami abruptly announced his withdrawal from the race so as not to split the vote between himself and the other reformist candidates – influential and popular former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi. Additionally, Khatami felt conservatives would be more likely to vote for Mousavi than himself.

“Rest assured that Mousavi will recruit a remarkable percentage of votes from the other side. I have reports that some conservatives will not vote for me and this guy [Ahmadinejad], but they would definitely vote for Mousavi,” he said.

By all measures, it was a selfless act to limit the chances that Ahmadinejad would be re-elected. Karroubi, under increasing pressure to likewise withdraw and unite reformists behind Mousavi, has declared he will remain in the race to the end.

Although it is true the final say in all of Iran’s political affairs rests with Ayatollah Khamenei, this does not make the position of president inconsequential, as the spirited campaign and endorsement or repudiation of candidates by influential persons bear witness. The choice of president is a reflection of the Iranian people’s will which, in turn, influences how Khamenei decides on important matters of state.

Indeed, the issues in the upcoming election are far-reaching and indicative of the great challenges Iran will face in the coming years. They include the effect of falling oil prices and double-digit unemployment and inflation; the need for civic reform; the role to be played in Middle East affairs, especially as it relates to Palestine and support for groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah; the ramifications of a possible rapprochement with the United States and obviously, the question of nuclear development.

The election will be closely watched in the Arab world, especially in countries exhibiting the most animus toward Iran, namely Egypt and Saudi Arabia (the latter broadly representative of the Arab Gulf nations with the exception of Qatar). One would surmise that they are hoping for a reprieve from Ahmadinejad’s bellicosity, as are many Iranians. That is, for a less controversial and more pragmatic, diplomatic and soft-spoken leader like Khatami (were he still in the race), Mousavi or Karroubi instead.

That however, is certainly not the case. What these nations’ rulers fear most is the election of a leader with exactly these qualities, regardless of who it may be.

In recent years, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and now Morocco have found comfort in laying blame for their domestic and regional woes on Iran and their (perceived) allies. The fiery rhetoric of Ahmadinejad, whether pertinent or not, has undoubtedly helped bolster their case.

This has taken shape in many forms, including accusing Iran of “cultural infiltration” as Morocco has recently done, importing the “Shiite ideology” to Egypt, and “interfering” in the internal affairs of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The latter is meant to redirect attention from a purely domestic issue – the fallout from longstanding discrimination against Bahraini and Saudi Shia Muslim citizens – abroad. Meanwhile, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak seeks to ever legitimize his own rule by continuing to foment sectarianism.

These leaders also fear an Iranian president more amenable to overtures from the United States. A thawing of relations between the U.S. and Iran will render needless the monetary, military and diplomatic benefits that being guardians against “Iranian expansionism” bring.

The standing of many Arab rulers is now more than ever based on the politics of polarization. And there is little doubt that exploiting this polarization – upon which they are so dependent – will be facilitated if Ahmadinejad remains as Iran’s president. For this reason, they hope he emerges victorious in June.

RANNIE AMIRI is an independent Middle East commentator. He may be reached at: rbamiri at yahoo dot com.

More articles by:

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail