The Iranian presidential election story is simple.
Mousavi is committed to freedom, a reformist agenda and other good stuff. But as PM in the 80s he was considered a hardliner close to Ayatollah Khomeini, who ousted the Shah to create a so-called Islamic Republic. At that time the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who replaced Khomenei, was president and considered an economic liberal. Now he’s the conservative protector of current president Ahmadinejad, and presumably his strong anti-western views.
Policy flexibilty or volte-face is obviously a hallmark of political chutzpah in the I/Republic.
Mousavi and Khamenei are not great mates, as they’ve been feuding for twenty-five years or so. Khamenei even abolished the PM position back then to get rid of him. Ex-Presidents Rafsanjani and reformist Khatami were mates of Mousavi, who obviously had some sort of conversion on the road to power too.
Popular elections for the post of Supreme Leader are not on the horizon, not to mention for the clerical Assembly of Experts. And of course clamping down on dissident demonstrations and outside news coverage is necessary to protect the Republic from foreign interference, presumably US-engineered. Although the US government does have a track record from the Shah’s days to live down.
Anyway, clearly Iranians are feeling stroppy and the elderly political class (Ahmadinejad is much younger) including clerics, is feeling the heat. Sixty percent of Iran’s 75 million population is under the age of 30.
The results from the ballot boxes seem to exceed the number of voters, perhaps because of the old adage about voting early and often. In any case, it’s difficult to form an opinion about voting irregularities in a theocratic republic (huh?).
Israel’s leaders are cynically said to prefer Ahmadinejad, as his virulent anti-Israel position maintains international disapproval of Iran. Some commentators are asking if Obama’s strong words of condemnation of the suppression of dissidents will commit him to action, as did Bush in Iraq.
It’s all not really a recipe for Persian Love Cake (key ingredient candied rose petals), or as we say here: Arvah-e-Shekamet (Ghosts of your Stomach).