The election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , in a fraudulent election where 1,000 potential candidates were disqualified including all 93 women who were candidates, is a disappointment to those who thought that the winds of freedom were wafting through the entire Middle East.
Ahmadinejad’s victory doesn’t bode well for any improvement in relations between Iran and the West. Ahmadinejad said that better ties with the United States would not be a priority. He doesn’t support Western-style democracy and last week said:
“We did not have a revolution in order to have democracy.”
A knowledgeable Iranian secular blogger, S’can-Iranic, sums it up this way:
To put what I am going to conclude in a nutshell, I suffice to say that Ahmadinejad is a radical Islamist Hugo Chavez at best.
It is highly probable that within the next two days, most of the Islamist reformists (yes the Islamist veterans who created this regime’s security and police apparatus) find themselves in jail, get assassinated, executed. The die is already cast for the non-Islamist ones who are secular. The world community, if it cares at all, should be worried that Akbar Ganji and Abbas Amir Entezam might perish in the course of the consolidation of the hardliners’ power at all levels in the regime. The families of the people who have already been executed for political reasons should be aware that they can be persecuted on a mass scale.
Europe and North America will restrict their relationship with Iran to oil, but will benefit from the capital flight that will ensure the first year of Ahmadinejad’s Presidency.
Ahmadinejad, as a hardliner populist and with statist tendencies (please read very bad and inefficient socialism, which was the style of the former Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 1980s), will deplete the present oil dollars savings of the treasury (collected thanks to high oil prices during the past three years).
Foreign investors, except the Chinese who are the main foreign power that was the winner of this election, are scared away from Iran for the foreseeable future. Capital flight from Iran will most probably happen in Iran on an unprecedented scale in the modern economic history of Iran.
Domestic and international Consequences of Ahmadinejad’s Welfare policies:
Ahmadinejad’s administration will generously distribute this money in poor neighbourhoods to shore up and solidify their unequivocal support. These working class neighbourhoods that have suffered most since the end of the war will constitute the bulwark of the populist militia that will be used to persecute lower and upper middle class in major urban centres.
This population will be used as suicide fighters against any possible attack and/or intervention by the United States or any other foreign power.
Iran will eventually produce a mass refugee problem for Europe and North America if Ahmadinejad’s administration goes on a rampage of radicalizing many aspects of life in Iran according to the Islamic dicta. However, the EU and the US will gain economically, and socially, by the Iranian brain drain.
Hardliners are already on the street harassing young men and women. European countries and North America should await an increasing number of social refugees escaping Youth Islamic vigilantes (Basijis) and the Revolutionary Guards. Iran’s education system and school will become “brain washing” concentration camps with a curriculum. The parents will fight back by challenging the ideological teachings of the school, many might be betrayed by their own kids and arrested. Many would decide to send their kids abroad and/or escape the country with their kids for this main reason.
As a result of the ideological pressure on technocrats, many technocrats will join cohorts of immigrant population who are escaping Iran for other political, social, and economic reasons.
Security, Nuclear Policy and Defence:
Iran’s hardliners might as well start to target their dissidents abroad by conducting terrorist operations. The regime will also take harsher stance against the United States. It will be seen to what extent they will alienate Europe, but it is highly possible that with a much renewed sense of confidence, the hardliners try to use China against Europe and the US. It will be seen how Russians under Putin will determine their course of action (because the US and EU offers of accommodation to Russia are an important variable in the Russian Foreign Policy decision making about Iran).
Israel has most probably already adopted its “Plan ‘C'” (worst possible case scenario) on Iran, as most probably the hardliners will increase their financial and military support for the Hezbollah of Lebanon and the Palestinian militias. Israelis could be even more in trouble, because the hardliners of Iran might increase their support for the Islamists in Syria, Jordan, and Egypt (not necessarily to cause regime change in these countries) but to infiltrate these regime’s security apparatus to stir more anti-Israeli sentiments in each of these countries.
Overall Conclusion: Domestically and Internationally
Iran will not be as isolated as it was in the 1980s, but the hardliners can force the EU and the US to adopt a united policy against them. Why? Because the hardliners would have to adopt Khatami style social policies in order to convince the EU that they are not as radical and it is doubtful whether they would be willing to do so, especially after they have developed a dozen nuclear devices at least.
I would say Ahmadinejad’s regime will increase the Islamic Republic of Iran’s life expectancy for the short term (maybe another eight years). However, the new middle class that might emerge as a result of its social and economic welfare policies might still fail to offer the hardliners the kind of unequivocal support that they want. Iranians have an outstanding record in preserving their traditions and assimilating inside and outside invaders. As self-reflective as all Iranians are, after attempting to avoid the hardliners’ cohorts for a while, a cultural war may ensue, which can incur Ahmadinejad’s administration massive losses; if and only if the moderates (seculars and Islamists) are assisted by highly advanced telecommunication technologies (Hoder gets the last word here), and take a united and coordinated stance.
There could be a plus side to this event. The reformists in Iran who were frustrated with the slow pace of reform may now be motivated to create a true revolution.
On the other hand, I have a feeling that many of the reformers will conclude that a long vacation outside the country will be much healthier than staying in Iran. A major crackdown on dissenters is sure to be imminent.
Certainly the wealthy with funds in Iran will be moving them out of the country.
Too bad for the people of Iran.