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Pundits Chime In On Iran Election Outcome

Iran’s ballots have been counted, its celebrations have died down, and the concessions and valedictory remarks have been exchanged. And so naturally, it’s time for the pundits to chime in on what the unexpected election will mean for Iran and the primary issues that provoke concern among international policy makers, including Syria and the nuclear program. Here’s a quick (and surely incomplete) round-up of some of the most interesting analyses making the rounds over the past few days.


From the halls of the Saban Center and the Brookings Institution:

  • Martin Indyk, Vice President of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution and a former senior Clinton Administration official, argues in The Financial Times that the “West Must Temper Its Enthusiasm For Iran’s New President.” Martin makes a number of important points, including a reminder that prior American efforts to leverage differences within Iran’s political establishment have run aground because of political sensitivities within Iran. He also highlights the reasons why the outcome works to the benefit of the regime and its hardliners:  

    “But Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains very much in command. Indeed, this election may have solidified his reign: rather than protesting against him as they did in such massive numbers four years ago, the people were celebrating in the streets after this election. And his radical regime now has a moderate, democratically elected president to cloak his own extremism and paranoia.But Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains very much in command. Indeed, this election may have solidified his reign: rather than protesting against him as they did in such massive numbers four years ago, the people were celebrating in the streets after this election. And his radical regime now has a moderate, democratically elected president to cloak his own extremism and paranoia.”

  • I have a piece on Foreign Affairs.com, “Why Rouhani Won— And Why Khamenei Let Him”, expanding on some of my immediate reactions to the Rouhani victory. In particular, I think there is a strong case to be made that this was not a out-of-the-blue upset, but rather the product of a deliberately orchestrated effort to empower a moderate specifically in order to redirect the regime from its current frustratingly ineffective nuclear diplomacy.
  • Finally, I will be testifying on the implications of the elections for Iran and for the United States, before at a hearing called by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, along with Alireza Nader of RAND Corporation and Karim Sajdadpour from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The hearing takes place on Tuesday, June 18, at 10:30am. Watch streaming video of the hearing on the Subcommittee’s website.
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