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The Iranian Elections: A Blow to Whom? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It is only natural for Iranian President Ahamdinejad to think that the [recent Iranian parliamentary] elections were great.

He described them as a blow to the enemy. What enemy? There are plenty of enemies. Most probably, Ahamdinejad was referring to moderates, who lost the elections as a result of the regime disqualifying most of their candidates and allowing only a few of them to participate, so that it could announce that the opposition had participated in the elections. For the record, opposition candidates are also Islamists who are classified as moderates and who are from within the regime. As for other forms of opposition, their members do not even dream of registering their names as candidates.

The results of the elections were predetermined, just like the results of any other elections in developing countries, where the ruling party wins and other opponents get only crumbs at political banquets and are present there only to have their photos taken. The enemies of Iran are pleased with such prearranged elections, because they reinforce their view of the regime, which stripped itself of any credibility by excluding its moderate Islamist partners, thus confirming this time the utter hegemony of extremists in Tehran, who in the past used to share some seats and authority with moderates.

Iran has changed immensely. At the beginning, it was described as extremist. But, to be honest, it was very moderate compared to its current situation. The Khomeini revolution began with the participation of all Islamic wings, including moderates, such as Abu al-Hassan Bani-Sadr, who represented the tolerant face of the newly-established state, as well as extremists, such as Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali, the butcher of the revolution, who sent 1,700 of the former regime’s key officials to the gallows and promised heaven to those who were innocent but were executed anyway. The beginnings were justifiable, even in their violent, bloody, and suspicious days. But today, after 28 years, the revolution has become even more violent. No place is left for moderate Islamists from among the sons of the revolution themselves. Extremists won the elections and practically lost the street, the revenge of which they feared. Accordingly, they had to disqualify thousands of Islamist candidates to prevent the deluge of inevitable change if moderates were to be elected to the parliament. Extremists have realized that Iranian citizens can no longer tolerate the combination of extremism and a deteriorating economic situation.

Someone might wonder: “What is so strange about this, considering that extremists are spreading like mushrooms everywhere in the Islamic world? They were in Afghanistan, they have continued to rule Sudan, and now they have reached Iraq.” Iran’s extremism is unjustifiable, because it has already reinforced its rule and defeated its opponents, such as Saddam and the Taliban. Therefore, there is no longer any reason for it to fear the outside. Khomeini’s grandson, Sayyid Hassan Khomeini, expressed astonishment over the same issue. He said, with regret: “Today, my country is living under a totalitarian rule that has betrayed the revolution.”

Actually, it is not strange for revolutions to end up in the hands of extremist revolutionaries, as was the case with the Bolshevik revolution under Stalin and the Cultural Revolution under Mao. All such revolutions were defeated from the inside at a later time. The question that arises here is: What will happen in Iran? Will extremism last there, as it lasted in Cuba, thus causing continued disturbance in the region? Or is it a cycle that is about to fade away? Despite the negative results, the rigging of these recent elections has given us positive indications that the Iranians are fed up.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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