About That Stacked Deck

Right about now, it looks as if Iran’s “democratic wild card”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/2034/irans-elections turned up again. Life is full of surprises! But this time, the government responded with a game of “52 pickup”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/52_Pickup.

That popular vote thing always was a little inconvenient. (“Ask Slobo”:http://www.unesco.org/courier/2001_03/uk/droits.htm!)

The commanders of the Iranian internal security apparatus — the “silencing of dissent”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/2016/raised-middle-finger specialists — seem to have judged, based on their experience with the protests and crackdowns of 1999, that they had more determination than the “young people who might come out onto the streets in protest”:http://iranian.com/main/2009/jun/reaction-against-re-election. So the leaders opted for a pretty brazen rule change. You can “read about it here”:http://tehranbureau.com/2009/06/13/the-election-in-a-nutshell/.

A great deal has been written about Iran’s political system, and I will not pretend to have read more than a fraction of it, even just what’s been written in English. Still, I’m partial to this now-more-prescient-than-ever “2005 publication by Kazem Alamdari”:http://www.iranian.com/Alamdari/2006/March/Iran/Images/MilitalizationIRI.pdf. Read it if the spirit moves you.

Two Paths

So what are the implications for the nuclear issue, you’d like to know? My guess is, there are two possibilities, and we’ll probably know which one it is pretty soon. Both are based on the assumption that the duumvirate of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad is going to be with us for awhile yet, but without a trace of legitimacy.

First, to further consolidate power by painting all opposition as treasonous, the regime could step up its confrontation with the West, rhetorically at a minimum. Under this scenario, serious talks won’t get underway. If lots of opposition and civil society figures are arrested in the next few days and weeks, this is probably the direction one should expect.

Second, to ease the pressure from below, the regime could instead reach out to Obama for a life-preserver of sorts, engaging in talks to demonstrate reasonableness and to signal to a disgruntled public that it should not harbor any hopes of rescue from the West.

Either way, the old strategy of indefinite “bobbing and weaving”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/2016/raised-middle-finger doesn’t seem so likely anymore.

_Update._ The NYT’s Bill Keller (that’s a statement in itself) “reports from Tehran”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/world/middleeast/14memo.html:

bq.. One employee of the Interior Ministry, which carried out the vote count, said the government had been preparing its fraud for weeks, purging anyone of doubtful loyalty and importing pliable staff members from around the country.

“They didn’t rig the vote,” claimed the man, who showed his ministry identification card but pleaded not to be named. “They didn’t even look at the vote. They just wrote the name and put the number in front of it.”

p. Iran may be in for a period of some turmoil.

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