The "Obama Effect" in the Middle East + Elections in Iran tomorrow

Discussion in 'Politics' started by D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    From Arab News: The "Obama Effect" in Lebanon:

    FOREIGN policy experts and commentators have been trying to elucidate an “Obama doctrine” ever since the new US president took office. Lebanon’s surprise election result, in which a pro-Western coalition narrowly triumphed, suggests these analysts have got things the wrong way round. Whatever the theory may be, the Beirut turnabout is the first, circumstantial evidence of a tangible “Obama effect” in the Middle East. It could be catching.

    It would be fanciful to claim that Obama’s bridge-building speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last week, attractive though it was, crucially influenced Lebanese voters. But the calmer, unconfrontational tone adopted by Washington on Middle East issues since George Bush trudged home to Texas appears to have struck a chord in a country that was teetering on the brink of sectarian civil war one year ago.

    Pre-election visits by Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and Joe Biden, the US vice president, underscored the importance that Obama attached to the poll. Some resented these interventions as unwarranted interference. But many Lebanese, particularly the nearly 40 percent of the population that is Christian, seem to have approved of Washington’s increased engagement; and to have heard its implicit message that a vote for Hezbollah and its allies would be a backward step.

    ‘Obama effect’ in Lebanon

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    Laura Rozen writes:

    As Iran votes, all quiet on the western front


    Official Washington is laying low and saying little as tectonic plates appear to be shifting in the run-up to Iran's presidential elections, to be held Friday.

    Despite dramatic images this week of the largest campaign demonstrations taking place in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, including a human chain of as many as a million supporters for former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leading opposition candidate, the Obama administration has remained largely silent. The last thing officials want to do is say anything to jinx a process underway in Iran whose outcome is entirely outside of their control -- and yet may ease one of their most pressing challenges.

    A Mousavi win would not mean smooth sailing for Washington's efforts to engage Iran, analysts caution. It could deepen fissures in the Iranian leadership or even prompt a hard-line backlash or crackdown that could further paralyze U.S. efforts to engage Iran, they say. But the voting out of the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would undoubtedly be seen in Washington and the West as a welcome sign that the Iranian public supports greater liberalization and less hostile attitudes toward the West.

    As Iran votes, all quiet on the western front | The Cable


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    Obama's speech in Cairo. Pre-election visits to middle eastern countries by Hillary Clinton.

    The "Obama Effect" -- influencing elections in the Middle East?

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    In Iran, Mousavi, the guy running against Ahmadinejad, has vowed to review laws that discriminate against women in Iran if he wins. He has stated that he would seek to disband the so called morality police force of Iran and drive toward gender equality. He's concerned about creating private, non-governmental TV networks and stopping the operation of the "Moral Police".

    In the televised debate between conservative incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad decided to go after Mousavi's wife. He held up a picture of her and attacked her. She went on tv the next day asking that Ahmadinejad apologize. She has been active in her husband's campaign. Some have compared her to Michelle Obama.

    Ahmadinejad's base of support is among the older and rural communities, while Mousavi's is among the youth.

    On May 23, 2009, the Iranian government temporarily blocked access to Facebook across the country. Gulfnews.com reported that this move was a response to the use of Facebook by candidates running against the incumbent Ahmadinejad. PC World reported that Mousavi's Facebook page had more than 6,600 supporters. Access was restored by May 26, 2009.

    Iranian reformers, who favor improving Iran's ties with the West and loosening social restrictions at home, view Mousavi as a viable challenge the current conservative President Ahmadinejad; they believe that Ahmadinejad has lost popularity, even among conservatives, because of his perceived mishandling of the economy, his limiting of the civil liberties and his perilous steering of Iran's foreign policy; some Iranians believe that his uncompromising anti-US and anti-Israel rhetoric have increased Iran's isolation and damaged Iran's standing in the world.

    Mousavi condemned the killing of Jews in the Holocaust, a much different stance than Ahmadinejad.
     
  2. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    In the travel I've done in the last few years to places where sentiment was considered anti-American (Cuba, Venezuela, Romania, Tunisia) what I heard was "We don't hate Americans at all, we hate your government." (or, more specifically, Bush). I have a feeling if I were to return now, things would be very different.

    I haven't been to the Middle East, but I wonder if these parallels hold true.
     
  3. dong20

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    Go Ahmadinejad. :smile:

    Seriously, if Moussavi does well but doesn't win (and he may indeed do very well) it will give added voice to Iranian minorities, which combined are close to half the population. That may be good, it may spell trouble. Either way it's change.

    Whether it's something that could be attributed to the 'Obama effect' or is merely a reflection of growing discontent ... is debatable, my money would be on the latter.

    Were Moussavi to win, as a reformer ... well that would upset the applecart and while Washington may be pleased, it would do well to exercise restraint in expressing congratulations.

    I think it's hard to call, if I had to gamble, I'd bet on a run off.
     
  4. D_Tully Tunnelrat

    D_Tully Tunnelrat New Member

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    Almost every Iraninan-American I speak with regards Ahmadinejad as both a puppet for ayatollahs, and a joke. Given the huge boom in twenty somethings in Iran, who are generally favorable to a more open western lifestyle, we may see Ahmadinejad (and thusly the ayatollahs too) humbled, which could not come at a better time given Iran's nuclear power aspirations. The Arab world world would likewise also breath a sigh of relief as they would be very uncomfortable with a nuclear Iran, whom they already do not trust.
     
  5. sparky11point5

    sparky11point5 New Member

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    Here is a question for the politicos here -- how 'free and fair' are the Iranian elections? Let's say on a scale of 1 - 10, where 1 is North Korea and 10 is Switzerland. (Personally, I think the US is an 8 given our stupid/lazy media, restrictive voting practices, undependable technology, and poor quality control.)
     
  6. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    sparky,

    I don't know too much about the fraud potential in Iran, but the streets are on fire (figuatively speaking) -- with tens of thousands of mostly younger voters waving banners and chanting for "change" in the streets of Tehran. The streets look like Mardi Gras. Mir-Hossein Mousavi has a real chance of unseating Ahmadinejad.

    I believe polls open up in about 30 minutes (it's about 8:30 pm here, California time)


    Iranian elections: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could lose as Mousavi emerges as leading challenger

    The tide has turned in Iran's presidential elections, David Blair writes, and if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad loses, it will create a political earthquake unprecedented in the Middle East.


    This election is the most open contest since Iran's revolutionary regime seized power 30 years ago.

    For the first time, there is a real chance of a sitting president suffering defeat at the ballot box, an outcome that would be a political earthquake with no precedent anywhere in the Middle East.

    Until a few weeks ago, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the clear favourite to win another four years in power. His three predecessors had all achieved re-election and served two terms.


    Moreover, Mr Ahmadinejad seemed to have every political advantage, including the crucial support of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and all the benefits of incumbency, ranging from the official media's lavish praise to control of the government machine.

    His most popular opponent, Mohammed Khatami, the former president, had given him an unexpected bonus by abandoning the race for the presidency.

    Yet the campaign's final weeks have changed everything. Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister, has emerged as the president's leading challenger.

    Mr Mousavi has managed to tap a well of discontent over the hardships inflicted by Iran's stagnant economy and crushing levels of unemployment. Televised debates have allowed him to attack Mr Ahmadinejad directly and appeal to the country's youthful electorate.

    Iranian elections: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could lose as Mousavi emerges as leading challenger - Telegraph


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    This Mousavi guy is open to negotiation, talks with the West. He speaks about the U.S. with no hostility. He says he is for women's rights (who knows what this means in Iran -- but it sounds good! Two-thirds of this country is under 30 years old. They want a more open, less restrictive & religious society). Mousavi even believes that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust - which is apparently a novel idea after Ahmadinejad's rhetoric.


    Anyway, I'm seeing thousands of guys and girls filling up the streets and honking horns and waving signs. It seems festive and momentous. Some of the girls are even without a headdress. Yet, the latest polls show the election evenly split, 50/50.

    Results are supposed to be in possibly Friday night or Saturday.
     
  7. dong20

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    Of course he is, that's not news to anyone, surely.

    I'd love to see Ahmadinejad ousted, I was merely suggesting that were he to depart the ship of state it's unlikely to be plain sailing ahead, indeed there will likely be many storms. Of course were he to remain (especially if it appears he did so fraudulently) the ship may simply beach itself.

    I wish the voters in Iran well today, they have an opportunity to set their nation on a new course, or rather, to pass the request to the bridge. As to whether it woud be followed ...
     
  8. Drifterwood

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  9. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    Absolutely amazing. Polling hours have been extending twice now in Iran's Presidential election - long lines, lots of excitement, honking cars. Voter turnout is unprecedented.
     
  10. B_VinylBoy

    B_VinylBoy New Member

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    This is exactly the same message I received from people in Jordan and even in Tel Aviv last year. Also in Brazil which is not one of our adversaries. And Canada, Portugal, Italy... Essentially any country I travelled to over the last 5 years.
     
  11. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    From the Associated Press:

    Iran presidential challenger's office attacked

    TEHRAN, Iran – Iranians packed polling stations from boutique-lined streets in north Tehran to conservative bastions in the countryside Friday with a choice that's left the nation divided and on edge: keeping hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power or electing a reformist who favors greater freedoms and improved ties with the United States.

    Turnout was massive and could break records. Crowds formed quickly at many voting sites in areas considered both strongholds for Ahmadinejad and his main rival, reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi, who served as prime minister in the 1980s and has become the surprise hero of a powerful youth-driven movement. At several polling stations in Tehran, mothers held their young children in their arms as they waited in long lines.

    "I hope to defeat Ahmadinejad today," said Mahnaz Mottaghi, 23, after casting her ballot at a mosque in central Tehran.

    Outside the same polling station, 29-year-old Abbas Rezai said he, his wife and his sister-in-law all voted for Ahmadinejad.

    "We will have him as a president for another term, for sure," he said.

    Voting was extended by six hours to midnight (1930 GMT, 3:30 p.m. EDT).

    The fiery, monthlong campaign unleashed passions and tensions. The mass rallies, polished campaign slogans, savvy Internet outreach and televised debates more closely resembled Western elections than the scripted campaigns in most other Middle Eastern countries.

    President Barack Obama said Iran's "robust debate" leading up to elections shows change is possible there, and it could boost U.S. efforts to engage Tehran's leadership.

    Iran presidential challenger's office attacked - Yahoo! News

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    This is so inspirational.

    Packed polling places. Civil, democratic debates (a dozen Ahmadinejad supporters attacking Mousavi's campaign offices in Tehran with tear gas is the only violence reported)

    Mothers holding their children waiting in long lines to vote.

    Voting extended by six hours.


    I am sort of proud of the Iranian people.
     
  12. sparky11point5

    sparky11point5 New Member

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    If this turns out to be a real step towards democracy and pluralism in Iran, w should acknowledge that 'regime change' does not have to cost 5,000 US service men and women, and several hundred thousand dead civilians. Just patience, belief in our own ideals, and living up to those ideals.
     
  13. Guy-jin

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    Persians are a proud people, and I'm willing to bet they don't like a guy like Ahmadinejad making a fool out of them continually.

    (Sound familiar?)
     
  14. faceking

    faceking Well-Known Member

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    corrected for accuracy.
     
  15. dong20

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    "There has been a huge turnout for Iran's closely-fought election as incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seeks a second term in office.
    Long queues have been reported at polling stations, and voting has been extended by at least four hours.

    President Ahmadinejad, a hardliner, faces a strong challenge from reformist former PM Mir Hossein Mousavi in a campaign dominated by the economy.

    Both candidates claimed victory in the first round as polls closed.
    Mr Mousavi said he was the "definite winner" and alleged that there had been widespread irregularities.

    But almost immedietely afterwards, President Ahmadinejad announced that he had won."

    It's hard to see how anyone can claim victory, yet. This is Iran, not Zimbabwe. Interesting that Ahmadinejad had earlier invoked Godwin's law, so perhaps Mousavi has it. One can only hope.

    BBC NEWS | Middle East | Huge turnout in Iran presidential poll
     
  16. sparky11point5

    sparky11point5 New Member

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    Thanks, Face, I agree that the media is biased to conservatives. Otherwise, why do liberals have to engage in fake 'controversies' like "Is Obama a secret Muslim" that the MSM encourages. We really should just say, "that is baseless and moronic" and move on.

     
  17. dong20

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    What I feared would happen seems to be happening.

    Ahmadinejad and Mousavi both claim 'victory'. With around three quarters of votes counted, the IEC are suggesting that Ahmadinejad has 65% and Mousavi 32%.

    Mousavi claims 'irregularities' ... he may be correct but I'm not conviced that they would account for such a disparity - on the flip side of this, the size of the margin is itself a surprise, I was expecting a run off, or a narrow victory (around 5%) for Ahmadinejad.

    My worry is that many who are members of ethnic minorities (who have rallied behind Mousavi) will feel their victory has been stolen and that this may result in violence. A large number of women seem to have cast their vote behind Mousavi as well.

    My other concern is that rather than recognising that women and ethinic minority groups must be afforded political recognition, that there is instead a backlash against them if (as seems likely) Ahmadinejad is re-installed. There is already evidence to suggest that this is entirely possible.

    This will be a test for the defeated as much as for the victorious. I don't have much faith in Ahmadinejad to measure up to the task, not that it will be his decision anyway and I don't see Khamenei being especially concilliatory, but then again, he's no fool.
     
  18. dong20

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  19. tripod

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    Most Iranians will never vote again... the youth of that country has been dealt a demoralizing blow. Mousavi clearly won the election, because all of that extra turnout was young and youngish people who have never voted before. Fucking Iran doesn't allow international monitoring of their elections so the world will never know what the vote really was.

    This election emboldens hardliners all over the world.

    This is bad, REALLY bad. Obama's chance for diplomacy is gone. The government of Iran has forced it's way into assuming the role of the asshole in the middle East. I mean, they've been assholes for as long as I've been alive. Governments by and large are not friendly entities, but Iran's current government is pretty much just as crooked and now is as despodic as the Shah's.

    Not that Iran's president has all that much power, but he could have made meaningful negotiations possible, put a kinder face on Iran's public image, open up the media in that country and make it easier for the youth to be themselves in their own country.

    Now the options for the U.S. have shrunk down to almost nothing.

    America could probably stike the shit out of Iran's leadership at this moment of social and political unrest and then put Mousavi directly in power. Maybe the youth of Iran would LIKE to see the Revolutionary guard destroyed.

    I now have to agree with the supporters of Israel. The time to strike Iran is now... the iron is as hot as can be.
     
  20. ripvanwinkle

    ripvanwinkle New Member

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    and americans who read more than the controlled media feel the same way. read "how the world really works" by alan b jones. each chapter is a summary of very important books including "the creature from jekyll island" which documents the banking cartel in america which most americans mistakenly believe is a government agency; the federal reserve bank is owned by the rothschilds which joined forces with the rockefellers to undermine the americans' ability to control our government. wake up people and support efforts to audit and expose the evil fed. ask why the hell should our federal government pay interest to a private company just to print money:mad:
     
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