Iran confounded the skeptics. It was just beautiful to see the scenes as people went to the polls and waited for hours on end to cast their ballot. I was constantly monitoring the process throughout election day as the Ministry of the Interior extended voting hours and granted discretion to Governors throughout the 31 Provinces as they determined when to close the polls. As someone who had served in elections in the United States, I was quite hopeful with everything that I saw. The images as reported by Al Jazeera was just beautiful to see as the reporting continued to come in throughout election day and beyond.
When the counting began, it was clearly methodical. When the Minister of the Interior finally came out on June 15 and announced the results, it was quite a scene of jubilation throughout the Country. Facebook was the key conduit for telling the World the true feelings of Iranians. Iranians sang and chanted slogans remembering the key opposition leaders, Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karboui and chanted how they got the vote back. They also remembered one of the young martyrs who fell during the 2009 elections as they chanted, "...oh brother martyr, we got your vote back". It was a beautiful scene indeed. ..and they promised four years ago they would....a beautiful scene indeed....:-). It was moving when the mother of one of those Martyrs noted how she was so grateful that her son, Sohrab, was not forgotten and her sacrifice for the sake of freedom and Democracy was not in vain.
I knew this time would be different when Khameini said that he had only one vote. What I also found even more striking was his acknowledgement during his last speech before the vote that there are those who oppose the Islamic Republic, but urged them to vote. Those two statements, in my view, were an acknowledgement that some incremental change must be made. As the reformists gathered around Rouhani, Khatami in his statement noted this. the question is whether the incremental change will be enough or not...and will Rouhani be given a free hand--if Jack Straw's comments on the nuclear question (and Khameini's own praise is any indication), it seems as if he at least can make strides. During the campaign, what I found especially striking was how he noted that he was a "lawyer" and not a "colonel" and did not think like a Military Man. Although I had reservations about whether the armed forces will support him, the support by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp was also significant. Although Mr. Khatami made some profound mistakes during his tenure, the people had a sense of hope. The sense of hope had dissipated during A-Jad's tenure. A-Jad's sheer incompetence caused a crisis of legitimacy for the system itself. The leadership, in my view, seems to realize it. Janati, the head of the Guardian Council, remained quiet. It was the spokesman for the Guardian Council who spoke on behalf of it. It was 4 years ago that Janati who came out 4 hours later and said A-Jad won. I had written here repeatedly how this was impossible and how the election was stolen.
The reporting I reviewed by the leading International papers including the Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitkor reflected a sense of change that was in the air. What must be understood, though, is that the new President-Elect is a product of the Islamic System. However, he understands what needs to be done and his first speech where he said that he would celebrate his win the day when everyone has a job, when everyone has an opportunity to grow and prosper and when Iran takes its' rightful place around the World. 18 Million Voters spoke up in a strong voice that they wanted change. They said that what happened up to now could not possibly be sustained. It seems that a sense of faith must be placed in the 18 Million People who sent as strong as voice as they could. I
The World has been expressing their views--and the general consensus has been a welcome one--including a cautious welcome by the United States. The only one who argued against wishful thinking was the Israeli Prime Minister. Just like Morsi in Egypt, he's apparently trying to continue to divert attention away from his domestic challenges by again throwing the "bogeyman" into the Mix: Iran. Hopefully cooler heads will continue to prevail. The Israeli Prime Minister has said that Israel's stance will not change. Someone has to ask the Israeli Prime Minister: Does he respect Democracy or not?
As I was was assessing the Iranian Elections, some of the analysts continued to question whether the election would be allowed to stand. Many had anointed the current Nuclear Negotiator, Saeed Jallili as the President. Many, to say the least, were confounded. The new Iranian President-Elect has met with the Supreme Leader and the Speaker of Parliament. He will be taking office within the next thirty days. He has his work cut out for him and has a full inbox to deal with the Economic Collapse, the fate of Political Prisoners (including the leaders of the Green Movement) along with beginning the process of a rapprochement with the World. As the new Iranian Government is formed, I will continue to comment on it here in "Outsiders".
As Iran enters a new era, I wanted to leave all with this "thought" from the Sufi Poet Rumi that epitomizes what Iranians did on June 14--it is telling:
I shape my destiny
with a chisel -
I am the carpenter of my own soul.