Iran’s Presidential Elections Are an Elaborate Charade

The upcoming elections in the Islamic Republic have generated headlines in the Western media that, Amir Taheri writes, seem to misunderstand that this is a sham contest:

Every four years, Iranians and others interested in Iranian affairs are invited to participate in or at least observe what is presented as a dramatic quest for power by rival factions defending sharply different programs. Thus a few weeks of excitement are created out of thin air to give the impression that the peculiar system created by the late Ayatollah Khomeini is an Islamic version of the cursed democracy promoted by the “infidel.” The show is also used to blame all that is wrong in the country on the president in charge for the past four years and, almost always, end up re-electing him for four more years. . . .

To add more spice to the mix, the regime and its lobbyists in the West also urge support for the candidate supposed to be farther from the “supreme leader,” Ali Khamenei. . . . For Khamenei, [however], the presidential election is nothing but a four-year endorsement of the Khomeinist system, a kind of referendum on the regime’s legitimacy rather than a choice of an individual president. . . .

[T]he question Iranians face is not about which of the various puppets [of the supreme leader running for president] is most qualified. The real issue is whether they wish this broken system to continue. . . . Four years ago, the presidential election scored the lowest rate of voter participation and Hassan Rouhani won with the smallest margin in the Islamic Republic’s history. In its limited way, the last election was thus a slap in the face for the Khomeinists. Will we see another such slap this time, too?

Read more at Asharq Al-Awsat

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iranian election, Media, Politics & Current Affairs

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy