Richmond World Affairs Council

Polarizing Iran

Supreme Leader Khamenei endorsed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a formal ceremony on Monday, with a formal inauguration held on Wednesday, August 5th.

Protests over the election are still ripping the country apart, with trials over the weekend of more than one hundred people (many of whom are prominent Iranian players), who called the election a fraud – indicating the rigidity and confusion of the regime. Although the trials were meant to prove the election was not fraudulent, the court itself was handled in such a manipulative way (no lawyers were present, among other oddities) that it is confirming many doubts.

What is also poignant is the unusualness of the confirmation ceremony. For the first time in 20 years, the election was not shown on TV, and Iranians were only shown a few pictures. What’s more, a majority of the key players were missing. It is customary for a former president, even if the current president is re-elected, to be present for the ceremony to assist in the “passing of the mantle.” Neither former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (head of the Expediency Council) or former President Mohammed Khatami were there.

It is becoming more and more clear that Khamenei’s camp continues to believe that they can solve this problem by exerting more pressure, using violence and accusing its opponents of treason. This has caused lines to be drawn even more clearly, with speeches and actions causing tragic occurrences on the streets of Iran and tremendous amounts of violence against protesters, polarizing the country even further.