This commentary was posted over on Huffington Post. Nathan is one of OC’s strong Democrats and published author – expert in Iranian politics.
Following the announcement by Iran’s Interior Ministry that incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won reelection in an implausible landslide, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets with the kind of unbridled political anger that may have the power to escalate into full-blown revolution. The ball is now in the court of the supreme leader, the highest authority in Iran, to avert the ultimate confrontation.
During most of the Islamic Republic’s young history, elections have served as a kind of pressure safety valve, releasing discontent into ballot boxes within the framework of contested elections. By voting at rates that would put any U.S. election to shame, the Iranian people, reformists and conservatives alike, gave legitimacy to a system that was otherwise seen as corrupt and undemocratic, since real power always rested with the supreme leader and his close associates.
Nathan Gonzalez, a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project, is author of Engaging Iran: The Rise of a Middle East Powerhouse and America’s Strategic Choice.