Elections in Iran
nterview with CTV News, June 11 2009
Alireza Jafarzadeh, Foreign Affairs Analyst and Iran Expert
Jacqueline Milczarek: Alireza Jafarzadeh is best known for revealing the existence of nuclear facilities in Iran in 2002. He is also the author of “The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the coming nuclear crisis.” He joins us now from New York City, thank you for joining us, I appreciate it.
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Thank you very much.
Jacqueline Milczarek: How do you see these elections unfolding? Will it be as most predict here, a face off between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the so called green movement of Mirhussein Moussavi?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well I think certainly the two front runners are Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President for the past four years and Mir Hossein Moussavi who was prime minister during the war time in 1980 to 1988.
I don’t think that either way the elections would go would have much of an impact because of the credentials and background of these two candidates. First of all, elections are not free in Iran. The four candidates were handpicked out of four hundred seventy five candidates who were all endorsing the political system there. So there is no real outsider who is participating in the elections. Second, all the participants have a very radical background. From the commander of the Iranian revolutionary guards for fifteen years, Mohsen Rezaie to Mehdi Karrubi who was involved in a slate of terrorist activities including the bombing in Mecca in 1987 to Mir Hossein Moussavi who actually has a very radical background. Under his watch, as many as thirty thousand political prisoners were executed in a matter of days in the summer of ’1988, which is the biggest massacre in the history of Iran. In fact, the students a couple weeks ago at the university where Moussavi went to speak, asked him why he has been silent about this massacre.
So I think either way things would go, we are not going to see a major change in terms of future course of the developments regarding Iran.
Jacqueline Milczarek: It’s interesting that you say that because there has been a lot of report and reporting signaling that Iran could be in for a significant change in terms of political leadership. And they look to Mir Hossein Moussavi and they say he has support from a lot of young people especially women. Why? And do you see it that way?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well Jacqueline, let me remind the viewers of 1997, when a similar political circumstances existed. At that time, they predicated if Muhammad Khatami, who was also perceived as a moderate, if he wins, it would bring a major change to the country and the relationship of Iran with foreign governments. And Khatami became president for eight years. Not only that change never came to the country, Iran developed nuclear weapons under Khatami, advanced its missile program, extended its support for terrorist groups in the Middle East and continued with the suppression of the students and shutting down newspapers and everything.
So given that, and given the fact that Khatami and Moussavi belong to the same faction–in fact, Khatami threw his weight behind Moussavi–That’s why the more objective observers when they look at the developments and look at the realities on the ground, they don’t expect a major change coming from someone who has such a radical background.
Jacqueline Milczarek: Interesting. So I want to get a little more from you because there are those who say there’s potential of the country’s youth to change a vote potentially. Others say, no the ruling clerics of Iran will wield a lot of a power here. So you’re saying, don’t expect huge change. So you don’t see, for example, the youth having a huge effect on this?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: No, certainly the youth have a huge effect. You’re absolutely correct on that. But I don’t think the huge effect of the youth will come in terms of their support of Moussavi. I think what we have observed in the past few days, especially during the presidential debates–which is a new phenomena–is that the populations are getting really weary of the entirety of this system, they realize through these debates that all these four candidates are corrupt and engage in terrorism and hostage taking and murder. And they’re thinking of another option, what they call a third option. They think out of the box, outside of these four political candidates. Rather in terms of bringing a social change, a change from within based on the desire of the population and calling for the change of the whole system. They don’t want clerics. They don’t want a clerical establishment. Rather, they want a secular, democratic republic and for that matter, those who cannot raise their voice inside Iran are gathering outside of the country. Actually next week a huge gathering is planned in Paris. As many as seventy thousand people are expected to show their support for the third option which is outside of the political system and those who are seeking democratic change in the country.
Jacqueline Milczarek: Okay just quickly, your predication on an outcome here?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: I think it’s not a slam dunk either way. I’ve seen media reports, I’ve seen predictions that predict perhaps Moussavi will have a slam dunk victory. I
don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s still very likely, that supreme leader Khamenei can pull it off and have his favorite candidate Ahmadinejad elected because he has the support of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the supreme leader and all the major organs of the Regime. But we never know, as we saw in 1997, a lot of things could happen, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow