European elections coming up. France this month will choose between Marine Le Pen, considered an anti-EU rebel, and Emmanuel Macron, the candidate of the elites and the French establishment. Britain will vote in snap parliamentary elections the Conservative Tories hope to win. German elections coming up as well, with Angela Merkel (Mother of All Germans) facing snapping opponents.
I am not sure who will win, but I have my own odds (all odds are risky given the American elections last November). But I know one thing: British, French, or German winners will all pack a suitcase at some point and head to the Middle East region. No, not to perform the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage. Each will be eager to sell more weapons and other goodies than the other Europeans. Even the Marxist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, had he won, would also fly to Riyadh or Abu Dhabi peddling weapons and other goods. An intense rivalry among the three big European powers over Arab markets. Forget about human rights. Most European leaders are traveling salesman, although Merkel may be less of one.
Which reminds me: Iran is having its own elections for president. It looks like it could go either way. The U.S. Congress (both parties) and the Democrat bureaucrats in the Obama Administration have made sure that the economic benefits of the Nuclear Deal are minimal to the Iranian people. President Hassan Rouhani could lose the election to hardliner Mohammad Ghalibaf (his name in Persian means ‘carpet weaver‘). Either way it will be close. But don’t expect either one of these Iranians, or whoever else wins, to fly around the region selling weapons to the potentates.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“Firebrand Arab MP Haneen Zuabi, a regular critic of Israel’s right-wing government, was banned Thursday from standing in next month’s general election. The elections committee gave no reason for the disqualification, reported on its website, but Zuabi’s lawyer Hassan Jabareen said it was because she was deemed “hostile to the Jewish state.” The committee also banned extreme right winger Baruch Marzel, a follower of radical rabbi Meir Kahane……….”
This sounds almost Iranian, as in Islamic Republican. They have a similar system where candidates are vetted to make sure they are not “outliers” as far as the regime is concerned. The difference is, an Israeli court is more likely to overturn this disqualification.
Which reminds me, about the coming parliamentary ‘elections’ in Egypt……..
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“The stunning landslide election of Hassan Rowhani as Iran’s next president highlighted a deep frustration among many Iranians about the direction of their country, especially an economy marred by skyrocketing prices, stagnant salaries and dwindling job opportunities. In explaining their vote for Rowhani, many spoke of change. They alluded not to hot-button international issues such as Iran’s contentious nuclear program or its die-hard support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, but to the slumping economy…………………”
Iranian elections have shown over the years that they are often unpredictable. The moderate Hassan Rouhani is the newly elected president of Iran. The people of Iran have shown they are eager to reform and engage. But probably not to surrender. There is suddenly so much talk of goodwill in Western media, especially in American media. For now.
We should remember the last reformist president of Iran. Mohammed Khatami was even more reformist, more engaging. Iran’s nuclear program was not deemed as contentious, mainly because Israel had a different government and the U.S. Congress did not act as a branch of the Likud coalition. Khatami even showed sympathy and turned a blind eye to the American invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Yet in January of 2002, Mr. Bush delivered a bad speech in which he added Mr. Khatami’s country to North Korea and Baathist Iraq in a stupidly-named Axis of Evil.
So, give it some time. Mr. Netanyahu and his omnipotent lobbyists and the U.S.
Knesset Congress have not started their work on Mr. Rouhani yet. And they will.
“March 20, marking the spring equinox, is the start of the Persian new year – Nowruz – a 13-day ancient Zoroastrian festival celebrated as the most important holiday of the Iranian calendar. The presidential elections, scheduled for 14 June, are taking place in the final days of the season. Ahmadinejad’s critics believe the president, who is prevented under Iranian law from running for a third term, is pursuing a Putin/Medvedev-style reshuffle by grooming his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as his possible successor. Mashaei, a confidant of Ahmadinejad and his relative, is accused of advocating nationalism, greater cultural openness and attempting to undermine clerical rule, especially the supremacy of Khamenei. Opponents say that Mashaei is the head of a “deviant current” within the president’s inner circle and he has little respect for the supreme leader, although he denies it. If Mashaei does put his name forward for the presidential vote, the powerful pro-Khamenei Guardian Council will have to vet his candidacy. Many believe he will not be allowed to run, while others say Ahmadinejad will threaten to go out with all guns firing if that happens. Last week, in a ceremony held before Nowruz, Ahmadinejad awarded Mashaei the country’s highest cultural medal. Both men were recorded as using spring in their speeches. Keyhan, an ultra-conservative newspaper with a director appointed by Khamenei, has attacked the men for repeated references to spring, which it said could have un-Islamic connotations…………….”
The clerics can see now that the post of president may continue to be problematic for them. It has been so at least twice in the past, when the elected presidents clashed with the selected Supreme Leader. The very first president of Iran, Abolhassan BaniSadr disagreed with Ayatollah Khomeinei and had to flee the country to exile in Paris. Mr. Ahmadinejad has been engaged in a power struggle and is continuously clashing with the conservative clerics in Parliament who are allies of the leader. Even Khatami who was a reformist cleric clashed with the conservatives.
All this means the clerics will probably try to disqualify some of the reformist candidates, try to remove them from the list. Their main target will likely be Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, an ally of Mr. Ahmadinejad whom the current president supports. If he decides to run.
If the clerics disqualify Mashaei, Mr. Ahmadinejad may go rogue, more so than he has done so far. He might start to publicly question the separation of powers between the elected president and the unelected Supreme Leader. This will probably resonate among many young Iranians, even among some who are not so young. This should make the elections more exciting than seems likely right now; it might even invigorate some of the demoralized reformists even possibly some of the many closet secularists.