Despite that the three presidential candidates of the Iranian elections were selected from a larger number of people who were eliminated due to the closed electoral system in Iran, there is one matter in particular that deserves to be looked at. It might be a significant factor in selecting a new Iranian president.
The matter to which we refer here is Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Iranian presidential candidate Hussein Moussavi. For the first time ever, an Iranian woman is openly participating in her husband’s election campaign. Rahnavard has even more of a presence than Hashemi Rafsanjani’s daughter, Fatima, once did.
Mrs. Zahra says that she is no Michelle Obama. However a victory for her husband would be an indication of the Obama wave that has swept our region politically and socially as Obama is more of a concept than an entity.
Of course the “Obama concept” will appeal to the younger generation, both male and female, in Iran, especially as over two-thirds of the 70 million-strong Iranian population is under the age of 30. In other words, it is the generation born during the revolution and it can judge the failure of the revolution better than anybody else.
The educated Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard could become a powerful part of her husband’s campaign machine as she can appeal to women and the youth who aspire for change – change here being a real option rather than a slogan.
The continuation of Ahmadinejad’s rule would mean further economic deterioration and that the threat of a military strike on Iran would still loom. It is true that the Supreme Guide has the final word in Iran but there is another dimension. Merely by electing Moussavi to presidency, this would mean that the Iranians are entering a stage of internal review and the fight for power, which would be in the interest of Iran and the region. During this stage for example there’d be no discussion on how Tehran is supporting Hezbollah but rather on whether Hezbollah deserves all that support.
Iranian policy will not be vulgar, nor will it be escalatory; it will be more diplomatic. This is not because the Iranian fox has suddenly turned into a lamb but because the region as a whole wants peace and there is the feeling among Arab public opinion that President Barack Obama deserves support.
All of this comes at a time when Iran has lost the sympathy of the Arab people or rather no longer enjoys the same level of sympathy as before. The Iranian president and even the Iranian foreign minister no longer travel around the region freely like they used to, as the mere presence of Ahmadinejad at any conference is enough to cause an Arab boycott.
It is true that the Iranians are still visiting countries that they usually visited unannounced but those states no longer show them the same level of enthusiasm. It is important to notice Syria’s calm behavior in the Lebanese elections and its pledge to the Americans that it would not interfere in the electoral process. Furthermore, what took place during the meetings that were held between Iranian and Arab officials on the sidelines of international conferences was in fact quite the opposite of what was reported on them as tough and stern language was used during these meetings.
We have the Iranian candidates repeating time and again that Iran has become isolated politically and economically on the international level and even on the Arab level. Will Zahra of Iran be able to put right the wrongs of Ahmadinejad and those behind him?