Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gary Sick's pre-election call

As the world wonders whether the post-election unrest will delegitimize the Iranian regime that's been headed for the past twenty years by Ayatollah Khamenei, it's worth stepping to recognize that election contest prior to the vote laid the groundwork.

Back on June 10, Gary Sick noted that Ahmadinejad's debate performances must have triggered cognitive dissonance for millions of Iranians on several fronts -- most notably in his implicit indictment of his own purported puppet master:
[Ahmadinejad] broke crockery left and right by associating his opponents with what he claimed was a history of corruption and catastrophic errors dating back to the earliest days of the Islamic Republic. That, of course, is the system that he represents and that he extolls in every public appearance.

The 40 million Iranian voters who watched this astonishing spectacle, and who had never heard a serious word of criticism about the Islamic government on national TV, scarcely knew what to think. His accusations, if true, cast doubt on the very legitimacy of the revolutionary state.

Although Ahmadinejad’s barbs were aimed primarily at former president Rafsanjani, whom he suspects of orchestrating the opposition, these charges also apply even more directly to the Leader, Ayatollah Khamene`i, who has had supreme authority over the Islamic Republic since at least 1989. If Iran is this wasteland of corruption, inefficiency and strategic mistakes, what does that say about the wizard who has been guiding this process almost since its inception?

Indeed, Sick's June 10 post highlights the deep fissure within the Iranian regime that pointed toward a rigged election. Its prescience about the likely rigging -- and Khamenei's likely acquiesence -- lends authority to Sick's conclusion:
No one in Iran appears to be fully in control of events that have a potential to mark a turning point in the history of the Islamic revolution.
Of course, the unlikelihood that the status quo in Iran can be restored does not rule out the possibility that the crisis will produce a more repressive regime.

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