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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La victoire d’Ahmadinejad saluée par des émeutes

by Pierre Barbancey

The Victory by Ahmadinejad is Acclaimed by his Supporters

Translated Friday 19 June 2009, by Henry Crapo

Iran. Ahmadinejad’s reelection provokes violent demonstrations in the streets of Teheran and in other cities throughout the land. The unhappy rival, Moussavi, demands that the ballot be annulled.

The outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reelected on Friday with more than 60% of the votes cast. If one trusts the figures issued by the ministry of the interior, the victory is unquestionable, since he won with almost 2/3 of the votes. The unhappy losing candidate, Mir Hossein Moussavi, asks that the ballot be annulled for "irregularities". Responding to this attack in a certain fashion, while, it is said, the abode of Moussavi was encircled ever since yesterday afternoon, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad assured his partisans assembled in the center of Teheran on Sunday that the elections he won on Friday "were the cleanest" and that the results contested by his opponent were not falsified. And as is his invariable custom, he attacked the West, where, he explained, "they include homosexuals and other impure persons in the electorate, in order to gain a few votes." He couldn’t refrain from adding, "Here, decisions at all levels belong to the people." The hundreds of persons arrested since Friday didn’t have the free time available to listen to the speech. According to our sources, the Iranian police had already combed the corridors of the Teheran hospital in search of wounded people arriving from the scenes of confrontation. Hundreds of reform leaders, among whom the brother of the former president Khatami, Mohammed Reza, were also taken to places of detention.

The Support of the Poorest

Irregularities or not, what has just happened in Iran is more a question of politics than of economic orientation. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad knew how to keep his support among the poorest fringes of the Iranian populace, both rural and urban, while the representatives of a certain bourgeois sector — that which had not been corrupted was still linked to that which was not healthy — wanted to play for modernity, simply seen as Western. And thus contrary to the interests of Islam.

They don’t know how to hide the demonstrations that are taking place not only in Teheran but in several other cities such as Chiraz, Tabriz, Mashaad. In a neighborhood of Teheran, Tadrish, the demonstrators even took control of the police headquarters. For the members of the Iranian Social Forum, who contacted l’Humanité, "We have to continue the movement of contestation. Moussaoui and Karroubi (the other candidate) have had the courage to refuse this result. But we have to reorganize the movement in Iran, because it is fragile. No one is safe in leading this movement. Everyone who moves is arrested." So it is decided. Ahmadinejad’s police struck out. But why, when he is the winner?

Exaggerated positions all over again

This is the whole question. Ali Khamenei, the real boss of Iran, congratulates himself on the outcome. "His" result, some say. He reinforces his own power, the president being nothing but a sort of prime minister. And he can thus, even with a brand of pragmatism, consider accepting that hand held out by the Americans, which silenced his former ally, now opponent, Rafsandjani.

Ahmadinejad, renewed in his functions of state, will he start off exaggerating, or will he be more flexible in his overture to international dialog (on the regional level, the links established are already important)? International reactions show that in reality the opinions concerning Iran depend less on internal political economy, more on the lack of integration in the regional political scene.

The attitude of Ali Khamenei, the supreme guide, provides several clues. One can even ask whether his primary aim, during the election, was not to crush the aura of Rafsandjani, president of the Council of discernment, one who is able to cast a shadow on Ahmadinejad. On the nuclear question, over and above the exaggerated Israeli position, there is a desire to find an agreement. In as much as the non-proliferation treaty has any meaning, naamely in the search for nuclear disarmament of all the major powers. After the offer of a hand from Barack Obama, there remains the regional role of Iran and its regional position as neighbor to Irak, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

It was in Teheran that the popilation assembled to mourn, not to rejoice in, the deaths in New York. That was on 11 September 2001. No matter who is president, Iran can’t help being a regional partner. Confrontation serves only the interests of the ultras of the regime. QED.

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