World View: Egypt's Morsi Endorses Syria Rebels
This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com:
- Iran's elections won by 'moderate' Hassan Rouhani
- Iran's nuclear development policy unlikely to change
- Egypt cuts all diplomatic relations with Syria
Iran's elections won by 'moderate' Hassan Rouhani
Iran's Interior Ministry has announced that Friday's election was won
by the Hassan Rouhani, with 52.49% of the votes. Rouhani will replace
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran in early August. There were
several major surprises:
- Rouhani was far behind in the polls just a few days ago. His
victory resulted from a last minute surge. The surge is attributed to
the fact that he is the only "moderate" among the six candidates who
were running, with the other five considered to be hardliners. Some
analysts believe that many people were voting AGAINST the hardliners,
rather than FOR Rouhani.
- No second round will be necessary. There were six candidates in
the race, and it was expected that no candidate would get a majority,
requiring a runoff election next week between the top two. That
Rouhani got a majority in the first round is a big surprise.
- The election of the "moderate" Rouhani appears to be a slap in the
face to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is known to have
favored the hardline candidates, particularly Saeed Jalili. But
Khamenei is anxious to avoid discrediting the Islamic Republic again,
as happened in 2009, so he has congratulated Rouhani on his victory,
and called it a victory for the Republic.
- There have been no reports of electoral fraud or rigging. The
2009 election was internationally humiliating for Iran because of
widespread charges of rigging by Khamenei.
- There have been no reports of large scale anti-government
demonstrations and subsequence violence by Iranian police, such as
occurred after the 2009 elections. To the contrary, there have been
open celebrations in Tehran of Rouhani's victory.
On the other hand, the election can hardly be called open and fair.
The regime still has several moderate politicians under arrest since
2009, and in recent days the regime has been openly threatening
violence against the families of BBC reporters who are simply
reporting on the election. Reformist newspapers have been shut down,
and journalists have been arrested. It's quite likely that there
would be widespread protests if a hardliner had won. Fars (Tehran) and Bloomberg
Iran's nuclear development policy unlikely to change
Hassan Rouhani, 64, lived through the Great Islamic Revolution of
1979, and is a confidant of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, so it's not clear
how "moderate" he's going to be. It's quite likely that national and
international expectations of him will exceed what he's able to
Rouhani's campaign bears some similarity to Barack Obama's 2008
campaign as the "hope and change" candidate, blaming everything on the
previous administration. Even though the policies of Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad were very conservative, and not far from the policies of
the Supreme Leader, Rouhani was able to walk a tight line by directing
all his criticism at Ahmadinejad rather than Khamenei.
Rouhani's campaign promises were:
- Uphold justice and civil rights. Many Iranians are furious
the peaceful protesters have been tortured, mutilated, jailed and
killed. Rouhani has cast himself as a successor to the 2009 Green
- Continue the nuclear program, by reaching "national consensus and
rapprochement and understanding on an international level. This can
only happen through dialogue." This is the mirror image of Obama's
2008 promise to resolve issues with North Korea and Iran through
dialog and understanding. Rouhani's promise was extremely popular
because, although Iran's population is overwhelmingly in favor of
continuing nuclear development, they hate being compared to
North Korea, and want to find a way to continue without being
international pariahs. Whether Rouhani can succeed at
fulfilling this promise any better than Obama could remains
to be seen.
- End international sanctions targeting Iran, once again
through dialog. Many Iranians blame Ahmadinejad for causing
the international furor that led to sanctions against Iran
that have badly damaged the economy.
- Create economic prosperity. Every politician promises
- Act as mediator to resolve the conflict in Syria. This is
definitely not going to happen. The Mideast is getting closer to a
major sectarian Sunni versus Shia conflict, and Iran will be a
belligerent, not a mediator.
Iran is in a generational Awakening era, like America in the
1960s-70s, when there was a "generation gap," resulting in enormous
political turmoil and some violence.
Rouhani won a landslide victory, and now has mandate for change. But
the real power in Iran lies with the Supreme Leader and the hardline
Guardian Council. So the most likely result of Friday's election is
that when the euphoria wears off, the bitter political conflicts will
return. BBC and Reuters
Egypt cuts all diplomatic relations with Syria
Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi announced on Saturday the end of all
diplomatic ties with the Syrian regime led by Bashar Al-Asaad, and
that "the Egyptian people and army are supporting the Syrian
We have decided to close down the Syrian embassy in
Cairo. The Egyptian envoy in Damascus will also be withdrawn.
The people of Egypt and its army will not leave Syrians until
their rights are granted and a new elected leadership is
Hezbollah must leave Syria; there is no place for Hezbollah in
Syria. The Egyptian people have stood by the Lebanese people and
Hezbollah against the [Israeli] attack in 2006, and today we stand
against Hezbollah for Syria.
Morsi also urged the West to implement a no-fly zone over Syria,
something that the Obama administration has already rejected.
This is a dramatic about-face for Egypt, since Morsi had hoped to
serve as a mediator to end the Syrian conflict, as he had done in last
year's Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas. However, the invasion
of Syria by Hezbollah appears to have been the trigger that forced him
to choose sides against the al-Assad regime.
Hezbollah's invasion of Syria on the side of the al-Assad regime is a
major turning point in the Mideast. As we've been reporting, the
attitudes of Sunnis and Shias towards each other is becoming
increasingly vitriolic throughout the region. It would take very
little at this point to start a local fight that could spiral out of
control and spread throughout the region. Al Ahram (Cairo)
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