Moussavi election defeat in Iran perhaps a best case scenario?

June 20, 2009

(ChattahBox) — I don’t know if this falls in the category of ‘better the devil you know’ or not, as Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a rather reprehensible choice as leader, but all the clamor about the election results might be a little bit overblown to Western concerns. Mir Hossein Moussavi who lost in his bid to become the country’s next president, has a forgotten track record that may indicate he was not the moderate candidate he was representing himself as.  Moussavi, a former prime minister who had hinted at reversing Ahmadinejad’s hard-line policies, was therefore an appealing candidate to the west, but may have been a false hope anyway, and not just because the clerics and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are mostly in control anyway.

It seems there has been some convenient worldwide amnesia of Moussavi who dropped out of politics many years ago after serving as Iran’s prime minister in the 1980’s. During his time as Prime Minister where he was credited for successfully building the Iranian economy, he was also thought of as a hard-liner whom the Economist described as a “firm radical.”  A CNN story outlined some of his hard-line policies and actions as prime minister which were served during bloody eight-year war with Iraq.

  • He, like most Iranians in power, does not believe in the existence of Israel.
  • He defended the taking of hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979, which led to the break in ties between the countries.
  • He was part of a regime that regularly executed dissidents and backed the fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie.
  • And as late as April, he opposed suspending the country’s nuclear-enrichment program but said it would not be diverted to weapons use.

The Outcome now may be best case scenario for the future

Even though it’s highly questionable whether Moussavi would have been the moderate leader his candidacy projected, we should take to heart that since he wasn’t elected it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that the many Iranians who voted for him and are protesting at the risk of their own lives thought he would be.  Also by showing restraint in condemning the flawed presidential election, President Obama has undercut the effectiveness of the “Death to America” diversions that Iran’s clerical despots have used for much of the last 30 years. Outward U.S. support for Mousavi would allow the clerics and Ahmadinejad’s camp to paint the protesters as American proxies.  Instead the Iranian hardline leadership face a growingly disatisfied youth movement, that is not going to be placated by demonizing the west.  While this scenario doesn’t offer much hope for an immediate turn in Iranaian hard-line politics, it may actually be the best hope for a more moderate groundswell if not a full blown revolution in the future.


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