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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More