In Iran’s Elections, the People Reject Sham Democracy

On Friday, the Islamic Republic held its parliamentary elections, which delivered a resounding victory to the so-called “hardliners.” Or at least so it seems to the casual observer. In reality, two-thirds of those eligible to vote declined to do so, knowing full well that the outcomes were foreordained. Tamar Eilam Gindin explains:

[A] tiny council known as the Guardian Council of the Constitution, [whose] twelve members are directly or indirectly appointed by the supreme leader, [must] approve any laws passed by the parliament, and filters the candidates running in every election. Its members also learn from their own mistakes.

For example, after the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi didn’t win in 2009 and his supporters and regime opponents took to the streets, in 2013 the Guardian Council filtered the candidate list to exclude all “problematic” contenders. [This time], Iranians seeking change simply had no one for whom to vote.

The current election race, which follows on the heels of two gigantic protest waves—in November over gas prices, and in January over the regime’s attempt to cover up its role in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger airline—was largely characterized by immense resistance to the false pretense of democracy. There were photos and video footage of election banners being ripped up and torched, windows at various campaign headquarters being shattered, and people using “I don’t vote” [as an anti-regime] slogan. . . . The minuscule voter-turnout rate points to the people’s severe and persistent crisis of faith in the regime.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Democracy, Iran, Iranian election

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy