Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hard-to-believe election drama plays out in Iran

Does anyone find it difficult to believe that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad can possibly be voted out in Friday's election? As amazing as it sounds, the unseating of Ahmedinejad, yet another virulently anti-U.S. leader of an oil-rich nation, appears to be a possibility when voters go to the polls to between him and Mir Hossein Moussavi, a former prime minister, according to the Cable News Network (CNN). Moussavi seems to have closed a huge deficit in the polls as late as 10 days ago and could be poised to win, based on the crowds that attend his rallies and the amount of campaign bunting on the streets of Tehran, CNN said. But this is Iran, where Shiite religious leaders hold enormous power, even the power to block whatever the parliament tries to do, according to Mohamad Bazzi of the Council on Foreign Relations, writing in the Washington Post. The country's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, controls the 12-member Guardian Council, which has the power to block candidates and veto legislation. It's impossible to tell what the council will do if Moussavi, who supports detente with the United States, wins the election. More likely, neither Moussavi or Ahmedinejad will get a majority of the votes in the four-candidate election, and will be forced into a runoff. The other candidates are Mehdi Karroubi, a former former speaker of Iran's parliament, and former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaee. Iran has had reform candidates win before, since the Islamic revolution in 1979, but the power of the senior clergy was not seriously challenged.

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