"....An Iranian political expert who visited Washington several weeks ago flatly predicted a Mousavi victory and a new coalition government that would pull together the center-right and the center-left...... argues Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "I don't trust any of the polls," he warns, noting that they failed to predict Ahmadinejad's victory in 2005.
And here's another caution: All of the candidates for president, including Mousavi, support Iran's right to develop nuclear technology. That's not an ideological issue in the coming election but a shared point of national pride. And Iran's negotiating positions on the nuclear issue will be shaped more by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, than by the elected president.
Still, the fact that Mousavi is mounting a strong challenge illustrates the political ferment in Iran. Westerners often imagine that country as an Islamic boot camp with everyone marching in lock step, but there's a surprisingly open debate in the Iranian media. Mousavi's supporters have loudly criticized Ahmadinejad for Iran's rising unemployment and inflation and for its growing international isolation.....Mousavi said Ahmadinejad's fulminations are "disgracing" Iran. "The president . . . jeopardized the stature of the Iranian nation with thoughtless policies," Mousavi said, referring to his rival's anti-Israel diatribe at the United Nations...
Mousavi's reform message is bolstered by his revolutionary credentials. He was prime minister from 1981 to 1989, during the years of the Iraq-Iran war, and is remembered for his competent management of the Iranian economy in those difficult times. That pedigree allows Mousavi to bridge the conservative-liberal divide in Iran and pull support toward the center....
Backing Mousavi is the reformist former president Mohammad Khatami, ......"If nothing unexpected happens, the most likely scenario is a second round run-off between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, which Mousavi can win, if he announces a coalition government that includes other key figures such as Karroubi, Rezai and others," Iranian political analyst Bijan Khajehpour predicted during a visit to Washington several weeks ago.
Maybe the real point is that Iran is having a contested election at all. This isn't a nation of fanatics with suicide belts strapped to their waists. It's a real country, ..."
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Ignatius in the WaPo, here
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:07 PM