The winner of Iran’s June 15 election Hassan Rohani has in less than 48 hours proven to be a Trojan horse. In his first speech the day after the election, he spewed forth the usual scripted verbal venom, blaming Israel squarely for all of Iran’s economic problems and as per usual, citing Israel as pulling the world’s strings to impose sanctions on Iran; a recurring Iranian theme with echoes of ‘Mein Kampf‘.
Even before the election, the writing was on the wall with the announcement that 4,000 Revolutionary Guard troops would be deployed to Syria to fight alongside Hezbollah and Syrian Army troops loyal to Pres. Bashar al-Assad. These new troops are in addition to an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 Iranian troops already on the ground in Syria.
The Iranian election was and still is being foolhardily viewed by Western leaders as a possible ‘sea change’ in Iran’s foreign policy, specifically with regard to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It was widely believed that the sudden rise of Rohani in popularity, the sanctioning of his candidacy by Tehran’s Mullahs and Clerics and the late endorsement from Iran’s moderates all pointed to a shift in tone from Tehran.
What none of the Western leaders seem to be able to grasp, is that there is no such thing as free elections in Iran and never have been. Candidates are selected by the ruling Mullahs and Clerics and anyone considered to be aligned with the people of Iran, too weak toward the ‘Great Satan’ (America) or who does not speak early and often of wiping Israel off the map is simply banned from running for public office.
There are of course, internal ‘palace politics’ at play too. Outgoing Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had his chosen favorite to succeed him who was rejected by the Mullahs and Clerics from standing for election as was known moderate and former Pres. Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Ahmadinejad is largely considered a failure and somewhat of an embarrassment in Tehran. Both because of his silly statements throughout the years and because of obvious diplomatic failures such as the S-300 air defense system from Russia. Iran paid full price for the system, delivery of which was canceled by Pres. Putin with no refund. Iran currently has an international law suit pending against Russia over the matter. Meanwhile, Iran’s feeble ally Syria is set to receive their S-300’s from Russia.
Additionally, several other foreign policy matters have gone awry, namely the defeat and now voluntary withdrawal of Iranian supported PKK rebels from Turkey; the exposure and arrests of several Iranian agents operating in the Kurdish region of Turkey; the thwarting of Iran’s interests and influence in northern Iraq by both Turkey and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), not to mention diplomatic and military cooperation between neighboring Azerbaijan and Israel.
However, the real heartburn among the Mullahs and Clerics is that the most widespread and largest protests in the Islamic Republic since the 1979 Islamic Revolution occurred on Ahmadinejad’s watch. Occurring immediately on the heels of the Arab Spring; another event that no one in Tehran saw coming anymore than Western governments did. As the protests in Tunis, Tripoli and Cairo grew the only response out of Tehran was a flat footed statement from Ahmadinejad signaling solidarity and reaffirming the rights of Muslims to protest.
Some of the Mullahs and Clerics no doubt believe the Arab Spring was a missed opportunity to increase Iran’s influence in the Middle East and make further inroads into the Sunni Muslim camp. As it was, the chief benefactor thus far of that missed opportunity has been Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan of Turkey who has also turned back Shiite Iran’s influence with the Sunni Muslim terror group Hamas in Gaza and the Sunni leadership of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Pres. Hassan Rohani is in fact no more than a new mouthpiece for the Mullahs and Clerics. There may be some limited easing of Islamic law in an attempt to keep the natives from getting to restless. But, like the former monarchy of the Shahs, the Mullahs and Clerics are the ones really in charge and it is they who call the shots in matters of national & foreign policy and most especially Iran’s nuclear program, a vital asset without which Iran has no relevancy on the world stage. The puppet presidents they select are merely another instance of smoke and mirrors to fool the West.