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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocidei
X
Elizabeth Lee
August 31, 2015 8:23 PM
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. During the conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed in what is known as the Guatemalan genocide. Researchers are now collecting video testimonies of the survivors to preserve the memories of what happened to prevent future genocides. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. During the conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed in what is known as the Guatemalan genocide. Researchers are now collecting video testimonies of the survivors to preserve the memories of what happened to prevent future genocides. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs