World View: Reform Candidate Rouhani Advances in Iran's Presidential Polls

This morning's key headlines from

  • Iran seeks to avoid repeat of humiliating 2009 election
  • Reform candidate Rouhani advances in Iran's presidential polls
  • Prism revelation is already damaging national security
  • Syrian rebels changing strategy after disastrous Qusair loss

Iran seeks to avoid repeat of humiliating 2009 election

Reform candidate Hassan Rouhani (
Reform candidate Hassan Rouhani (

With voting in Iran's presidential election set to begin on Friday, the leadership is seeking to avoid a repeat of the massive anti-government protests and charges of election fraud that followed the 2009 re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. The hardliners, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have proclaiming the importance of everyone voting:

"Every vote that the people cast ... is primarily a vote of confidence for the Islamic Republic and for our electoral mechanism."

Everyone realizes that this campaign is something of a joke, because the real humiliation for Iran was the massive bloody violence that followed the election, when the police and the Revolutionary Guards started torturing, mutilating and slaughtering peaceful protesters. In fact, for over two years Iran has been the psychopathic Bashar al-Assad conduct the same kind of campaign on steroids in Syria.

So nobody doubts that the Islamic Republic is a failure when it has to kill, torture and mutilate peaceful protesters, and that the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is a fool for claiming otherwise. In fact, two reform candidates from the 2009 election, Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, are still under arrest. They are symbols of the massive failure of the Islamic Republic.

Iran is in a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s-70s, when there were massive anti-government protests and some police violence against them, though nowhere near the scale of the violence in Iran. Like America in the 1960s, there is a "generation gap" today in Iran, pitting the hardline survivors of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and the subsequent Iran/Iraq war versus the younger generations that grew up after the war. These generational confrontations usually end up with a climactic victory by the younger generation since, after all, the old generation dies off. (In America, the climactic victor was the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.)

The voting campaign presents a dilemma for younger voters in Iran, who are torn between on the one hand protesting against leadership by boycotting the vote, and on the other hand voting for the reform candidate Hassan Rouhani, and hoping he'll win.

As I described in "23-May-13 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader tries to defeat the younger generation", Khamenei has already arranged to disqualify the leading reformist candidates, but that strategy could conceivably backfire, as now there's only one reformist candidate left. CS Monitor and Foreign Policy

Reform candidate Rouhani advances in Iran's presidential polls

On Friday, voters in Iran's presidential election will have a choice of five hardline candidates, and only one who is considered "centrist" or "reformist." It's a question just how reformist he is, since he's a cleric who's close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But he's become very popular with young Iranians, and he's particularly critical of the economic policies of the last eight years.

All the other reformist candidates have been eliminated. Last month Khamenei arranged to have former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei disqualified. Then earlier this week another reformist candidate, Mohammad Reza Aref, announced that he was withdrawing from the race, in order to avoid drawing votes away from Rouhani.

So with all these other candidates eliminated, Rouhani's poll results have surged, while all the hardline votes are split among the five remaining candidates. Rouhani is still unlikely to win the election, but victory by Rouhani would be a victory for the younger generation, and a defeat for Khamenei. Al Monitor and BBC

Prism revelation is already damaging national security

The traitorous act of Edward Snowden in revealing the top secret Prism program is already damaging national security. Jihadist and terrorist web sites are prominently displaying the information exposed by Snowden, and are instructing terrorists how to use alternate communications channels that can't be trace by the NSA. Jihadists are recommending that terrorists use Linux rather than Windows, and are providing technical information on protecting jihadist information. Previous revelations of top secrets include the admission of responsibility for the Stuxnet virus that slows Iran's nuclear program, and the Obama administration's bragging revelation of the details of the death of Osama bin Laden. All of these revelations have damaged America's security. Bill Gertz / Free Beacon

Syrian rebels changing strategy after disastrous Qusair loss

Last week's stunning victory by the Syrian army combined with Hezbollah in Qusair is threatening to give the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad a victory in the civil war, now in its third year. The regime's firepower was overwhelming, and the regime's forces adopted a new technique: They used heavy weapons to level row after row of building, essentially leveling the entire town, providing no cover for the rebels. Thousands of rebel fighters and civilians were killed in Qusair, and only a few hundred escaped, fleeing in desperation. It's now clear that the rebels are close to defeat, and will have to develop a new strategy. One activist is calling for greater use of suicide bombings in Alawite neighborhoods, where the civilians typically are strong supporters of al-Assad. "We should take the battles to the heart of Alawite neighborhoods," he said. Daily Star (Beirut)

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