Friday, June 12, 2009

Iran Votes

IRNA reports that at 7:30pm EDT Friday, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has captured 66.18% of the votes with 61% of the votes counted. The good news is that this wasn't entirely unexpected. The bad news is that it was expected by cynics who tend to be more hardline in their policy. The following are brief strategy memos for each country.

Iran - Iran's interest is in scaring the West by highlighting that Ahmedinejad has a mandate. Internally, he will have to be careful to maintain this constituency, but if Ahmedinejad's candidacy goes through, it will imply consent of both Iranians and the clerical government structure of his policies. It's unclear (to me) how the Ayatollah and senior clerics will react to the news, but if anything it seems like an Ahmedinejad win would be cause for a hardlining against the West.

US - Now that elections are over and Ahmedinejad has (concievably) won, the US will be able to move forward with a long-term strategy. Obama has already demonstrated that he can think years into the future, and he will need to in the case of Iran. Balancing American, European, Arab, and Israeli interests is a tough act but Obama will need to do so. First priority is calming Israel down and guarranteeing them security. Doing this is publicly would be a good way to relieve tensions without looking like the US is backing down over settlements. Secondly, negotiations must be brouht to center stage. The US should attempt to force Ahmedinejad's hands re: negotiation and make a refusal to meet with American and European leaders look weak.

Israel - Israel will likely be cynically unsuprised with the results of the elections. Their best bet is probably strong rhetoric against Iran while not worsening the US-Israel relationship, especially only two days before Netanyahu's speech Sunday night. Already its not looking like this will improve US-Israel relations significantly. Secondly, playing the brinksmanship game is a good strategy. Israel should attempt to play the "bad cop" to the US' "good cop" vis-a-vis Iran. The best deterrence is when pressure is applied but a realistic alternative to pressure is offered.


Sources:

"Latest Figures in Iran's Presidential Elections,"
Islamic Republic News Agency, June 12, 2009.

"US: Netanyahu Policy Speech not Adequate,"
Reuters, June 12, 2009.

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