Foreign Policy Blogs

Iranian Elections

Afshin Molavi has a shrewd New Republic piece on the Iranian elections, and the schism in the conservative branch. Despite reformists being largely banned from running, and the general assumption being that conservatives- or, as they call themselves, “Principalists”- consolidated their power, Molavi argues that a surprising number of seats went to a pragmatic branch of the Principalists, not tied to President Ahmadinejad.

Most of the remaining seats went to conservatives–a camp that is divided between hard-liners generally in sync with Ahmadinejad and a group of “pragmatic conservatives,” who tend to be unsympathetic to the Iranian president. The divide generally splits between the United Principlist Front, affiliated with Ahmadinejad, and the Comprehensive Principlist Front, associated loosely with the pragmatic conservative camp. The pragmatists reportedly won 79 seats, as compared to the 83 seats won by hard-liners–an impressive showing given hard-line control of the state media and traditional patronage networks.

I think the only real flaw in Molavi's piece was that it made no mention of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameni. Despite all the justifiable uproar over Ahmadinejad, Khameni is right now the most important person in Iran. Indeed, Ahmadinejad's raving actually helps keep Khameni and his mechanisms in the background, consolidating his power. If you are interested in this- and you should be- read Karim Sadjadpour's long essay on Khameni, published by the Carnegie Endowment. The link will send you to where you can download the .pdf file. It is long- some 40 pages- but very worth it.

On a side note, I’ll be away from the blog for about a week. We’re having a guest blogger, Kevin Nolan, who works with independent media organizations in the West Bank. I’m looking forward to reading someone who is on the ground-floor.



Brian O'Neill

Brian O'Neill is a freelance writer currently based out of Chicago. He has lived in Egypt and in Yemen, and worked as a writer and editor for the Yemen Observer publishing company. He currently is an analyst with the Jamestown Foundation.