President Obama favored losing candidate in Iran’s election

Friday night, June 12, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was already on his way to victory in Iran’s turbulent presidential election although only the first votes had been counted. By Saturday morning, it was clear he had won a landslide for a second term, widening the gap with his closest rival opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. According to final results, the incumbent won 62.6 percent of the vote, Mousavi 33.75 percent.
This contradicted Western predictions that the record-breaking turnout of 85 percent of Iran’s 46 million eligible voters favored the challenger.
Yet strangely enough, even then, Washington and the US media were still doggedly insisting that that the reformist Mousavi could still make it in a run-off, although that door had been finally slammed shut by the president’s broad majority.
Indeed a high-ranking White House official, quoted by a British TV correspondent, even stated that a second round was inevitable and Mir Hossein Mousavi was bound to win. Even before that, President Barack Obama said optimistically: “Whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact there has been a robust debate hopefully will advance our ability to engage them in new ways.”
Their insistence on hoping against hope for a change of presidents in Tehran remains a big puzzle, now that it is obvious that the Islamic Republic’s exercise in democracy was carefully stage-managed for a predetermined outcome. This became apparent in the next developments.
By Saturday afternoon, riot police and Revolutionary Guards thugs were clashing with thousands of protesters who surged onto the streets of Tehran after their defeated hero, Mousavi, said he strongly protests “the many obvious violations that could lead to tyranny in Iran.”
Police blocked him when he tried to hold a press conference and blacked his efforts to send text messages to his supporters. Iran’s ultimate authority, supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered “all Iranians to support the elected president.”
So how come the Obama administration, with so much at stake, continued to back the loser well after his defeat could no longer be denied?
debkafile‘s Washington sources have two explanations:
1. The White House was given erroneous intelligence evaluations about the way Iran’s presidential election was managed. The administration’s Iranian experts missed the point that in Middle East politics (except for Israel) it is not the people who determine an election, the shape of government and its policies but the unelected head of the tribe – in this case supreme ruler Khamenei.
This was the second time in a week that an American intelligence prediction missed out on a Middle East election result. Having widely anticipated a massive Hizballah win in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections of Sunday, June 7, Washington was stunned by the victory of the pro-Western camp.
2. Mousavi’s portrayal as a “reformist” by the Western media was false. As prime minister in the 1980s under the Islamic revolution’s founding father, Ayatollah Khomeini, he laid the foundations for Iran’s nuclear program and international terror network (“exporting revolution”). He was therefore hardly the figure to step out of the Islamic regime’s value system and make good on his campaign platform of change.
But the White House decided to seize on Mousavi’s build-up as a candidate capable of beating the hard-line Ahmadinjed and leading Iran to change in order to vindicate Obama’s hopes of a successful dialogue with Tehran.
By falling through, this scheme placed a big question mark over the US president’s essential strategy of diplomatically engaging rogue states to de-emphasize conflict.
The way the North Korean crisis was handled illustrates this point. Closely in step with Iran on their nuclear and missile development, Pyongyang has brought its relations with the United States to the brink of a military confrontation whose conclusion no one can predict.
Finally removing the gloves, Washington persuade UN Security Council members to unite Friday, June 12, behind a resolution imposing harsh sanctions for the North Korean nuclear test last month. US warships were authorized to search North Korean vessels for suspected nuclear materials, financial measures were tightened.
The Obama administration will now have to follow through on the Security Council’s directives – even in the face of North Korea’s threat to treat a US embargo as “an act of war” and respond with military, including nuclear, action. Failure to do so would make America a paper tiger which no US president can afford especially under the eye of the re-elected Ahmadinejad.
Newly empowered for a second four-year term in office, Ahmadinejad need not be expected to let Obama off the hook for supporting his leading challenger. The tough Iranian president will drive a harder bargain than ever when they sit down to talk.
And in other parts of the Middle East, despite the US envoy George Mitchell’s unquestioned diplomatic skills, the tour he began in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, moving on to Cairo, Amman, Beirut and finally Damascus on Saturday, has produced no breakthroughs. Iran’s election results, hailed enthusiastically by the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami, are a shot in the arm for the most radical forces in the region, such as Syria and the Lebanese Hizballah.
debkafile‘s political sources advise Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to take Ahmadinejad’s victory into account when he finalizes the text of the major policy speech he is scheduled to deliver at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv Sunday, June 14.
Israel is stuck for another four years with the same aggressive champion of a nuclear-armed Iran and radical Islamic terror, hater of Israel and Holocaust denier, as before. He will now maintain that his positions are endorsed by the Iranian people.
Originally billed as the Israeli response to Obama’s Cairo speech of June 4 and his policies on the issues in dispute between them, Netanyahu has the choice of echoing Washington’s wishful thinking on the Middle East or looking at the real problems of the region squarely through the prism of Israel’s interests.
If he wavers between the two courses, he will end up with a wishy-washy product that satisfies no one.

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