News / Middle East

Fallout From Contested Iran Election Outcome Still Reverberates

Multimedia

Audio

One year ago Iran held a presidential election.  The incumbent won, but that result was hotly contested in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere, leading to a bloody government crackdown on dissent.  The repercussions from that election and the startling events that followed it are still being felt both inside and outside Iran.

The voices of protest that so shook Iranian society and startled the world one year ago are largely quiet now, silenced by intimidation, imprisonment, and even death.

And as former Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Richard Murphy says, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose election sparked the protests, remains firmly entrenched in power and defiant as ever.

"That may have surprised critics who thought that he was seen as a buffoon and a crazy who could be discounted," he said. "But they consolidated ranks so quickly, that is, the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guard, to enforce his election last year.  And I see no cracks in that support as having developed.  If they have, they're off my radar."

Home front

Listen to Middle East expert Farihboz Ghadar's analysis of Iran politics:

The protests erupted because many reformists believed that their favorite, Mir Hossein Mousavi, had been robbed of victory by vote fraud.  The government, seeing the demonstrations as a threat to its rule, cracked down on the protests with force.

The protests eventually withered in the face of the crackdown, and now much of the opposition has been driven underground or into exile.  But Congressional Research Service Iran affairs analyst Ken Katzman says the opposition is not dead, and is even quietly reorganizing.

Timeline of significant events

  • Jun. 13, 2009: Iranian officials declare incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner of the election after preliminary results show he won more than 62 percent of the vote.
  • Jun. 14, 2009: Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi seeks public support in his effort to have officials annul the vote results.
  • Jun. 17, 2009: Tens of thousands of supporters of Mr. Mousavi turn out for a Tehran protest.
  • Jun. 20, 2009: Thousands of protesters clash with police in defiance of a warning from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
  • Jun. 23, 2009: Guardian Council rules it will not annul election results.
  • Aug. 5, 2009: Mr. Ahmadinejad is sworn in for his second term as president.
  • Aug. 8 2009:  Iran faces international condemnation for opening a mass trial of political detainees.
  • Oct. 28, 2009: Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says questioning the results of the June 12 presidential election is a crime.
  • Dec. 30, 2009:  Hundreds of thousands of people take part in government-backed rallies.
  • Feb. 11, 2010: Security forces crack down on anti-government protesters during rallies marking the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic.
  • Jun. 3, 2010:  Iran reports it has pardoned or reduced the sentences of 81 people convicted of offenses related to post-election unrest.

"There's been a realization among some factions that it was the lack of leadership and organization that harmed them, and then they lost momentum partly because of that," he said. "Some of the factions have formed leadership councils - not an overarching leadership council but some of subgroups under the green umbrella have formed ruling councils, and they're coordinating with each other.  So I think that it is starting to jell in terms of organization."

International front

While the opposition has been reorganizing, the government has been retrenching.  Analysts say it appears to remain determined to crush dissent.  On the international front, it has stubbornly clung to what the U.S. and its allies say are ambitions to become a nuclear-armed power.

Former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, who was deeply involved in the Bush administration's Iran policy making, says the Iranian government has consolidated power at home, but lost standing abroad.  

"But unfortunately, the Iranian government seems to have emerged at least in control, in large control, of the country," he said.  "I would say internationally, they're more isolated.  The Iranian government was a big loser last summer.  The whole world can see what an anti-democratic regime it is and to the lengths they go to protect their own rule, and Iran became more isolated because they lost credibility internationally.  So I think I see those dual effects of the crisis of last year."

The Iranian retrenchment and deeper isolation has further complicated the nuclear issue, which remains the main point of contention between Iran and the West.  The calls from some quarters for a military strike on Iran have receded somewhat over the past year, but have not disappeared entirely.

Outreach to Iran

The Obama administration came to office calling for a dialogue with Iran, but has made no headway in rapprochement.  Nicholas Burns insists that outreach to Iran is not dead. "We don't like the Iranian government very much at all.  It's a very negative, brutal government," he said.

"But we have to communicate with it in my judgment from time to time, the international community, in order to maximize the chance that diplomacy and negotiations might have some positive impact."  And so I wouldn't give up on diplomacy.  I don't think engagement has been bypassed at all, but I do think that a proper policy would combine the various elements: sanctions and negotiations and further pressure on Iran to meet its Security Council commitments," he added.

The U.S. is pushing in the U.N. Security Council for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran.  However, many analysts say the sanctions had to be weakened to get Russian and Chinese support and question their effectiveness against a retrenched Iranian government.

Related video by Laurel Bowman:

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid