Does It Matter?

So far, President Obama had been reluctant to comment on the results of last week’s presidential election in Iran, the possibility of massive election fraud and the continuing demonstrations in Tehran and other larger cities. It won’t matter who will be the president, we read, the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or his main rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi. “It’s important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, that the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as has been advertised,” Obama told CNBC News. Obviously, the American President doesn’t want to weaken the opposition movement by showing overt partisanship.

Even in his latest remarks on demonstrations in Iran, made in an interview with CBS, he only stressed his hope that “ultimately the Iranian people will obtain justice.” “Now, what we can do is bear witness and say to the world that the, you know, incredible demonstrations that we’ve seen is a testimony to, I think what Dr. King called the arc of the moral universe. It’s long but it bends towards justice.”

While yesterday’s Friday prayer sermon by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran had been interpreted as threat of future violence if demonstrations would go on, little may be found in this regard in the transcript of the speech by the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network Television (IRINN):

“In these elections the people truly performed their duty. Their duty was to come to the polls and this duty was performed in the best possible way. However, we and you have more serious duties to attend to. Those — from politicians, heads of parties and directors of political currents — who can exert some influence on the public and are listened to by some groups, should be very careful of their conduct. They should be very careful of what they say. If they show the slightest extremism, the repercussions will be felt by the body of the people and can lead to a very sensitive and dangerous situation which even they cannot control. We have seen examples of it. When extremism starts in a society, any extremist move can fuel other’s extremism. If the political elite ignore the law, or cut off their noses to spite the face, whether they want or not, they will be responsible for the bloodshed, violence, and chaos (that will follow).” [emphasis added]

In addressing the people of Iran, he made very clear that all four candidates who had been allowed to run for presidency by the Guardian Council (more than 450 had been rejected) had been campaigning within the system.

“Of course, they have different opinions. They have different plans. They have a range of differences in their various political stances. But all of them belong to the system. All of these four people are members of the system. This race took place within the system. […] [It] was not a race between the insiders and outsiders of the system. It was a race inside the system between the members affiliated to the system, who have such records. I know all of them closely. I am familiar with their thoughts, ideas, and traits. I have worked with them closely. I know all of them.”

So, in principle, Obama is right. It wouldn’t matter. Can it be that hundreds of thousands if not millions of Iranians have not really understood that simple fact?

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