At a time when much of the news coming from the Muslim world is rather depressing, the peacefully held presidential elections in Iran this week are surely to be welcomed. The voter turnout of 72.7% would look good against the record of most Western democracies.
So, it is worth taking a look at the response of some in the international community to Iran’s 2013 presidential elections.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu is quoted today in the Jerusalem Post as calling Iran the “world’s greatest threat” and urged the international community not to soften the sanctions regime against Iran which have unquestionably hurt the Iranian economy. Israel routinely incites the USA to bomb Iran so Netanyahu’s response was not unexpected, though in the wake of the recent belligerent statements from nuclear-armed North Korea, his characterisation of Iran as the “world’s greatest threat” might perhaps have less effect than previously. And as the Middle East’s only nuclear weapons state, Israel has perhaps only itself to blame if countries in the region decide that they too must have nuclear capabilities.
The White House spokesperson, Jay Carney, responded by pointing out that the election “took place against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly.” The US Secretary of State, John Kerry said: “President-elect Rowhani pledged repeatedly during his campaign to restore and expand freedoms for all Iranians. In the months ahead, he has the opportunity to keep his promises to the Iranian people.”
The US response was not inaccurate – to be sure, the Iranian presidential elections had many flaws, particularly the disqualification of many candidates and the prohibition on women candidates. Even so, it is worth noting that the US very rarely criticises the most awful regimes in the region such as that in Saudi Arabia where women are prohibited from even driving cars. As long as the Saudi regime spends a fortune on buying US arms and doing the bidding of the US, then the White House appears more than willing to overlook its ghastly human rights record. So, the US response to the Iranian elections smacks more of hypocrisy and a desire to plunder the wealth of the Iranian nation rather than a genuine concern for the welfare of the Iranian people.
For all its many flaws, Iran is an independent country in a region sadly still awash with plenty of US client regimes.