Supreme Leader wins election
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has emerged as the big winner of last Friday’s general election. He had called for a high turnout and he got a 64% turnout, 4% up on the 2008 poll. He also installed his own ultra-conservative candidates against a weakened team put up by President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad – again the Supreme Leader has won with around 75% of the seats declared being his supporters.
In all, 225 candidates have been elected with 65 seats going to a runoff sometime in late April. There will be 130 candidates contesting the 65 seats.
Whatever the outcome of the runoff, Ahmedinejad is going to have a tough final 18 months of his presidency. In all probability the presidency will be abolished at the end of his term, or possibly before, making him look increasingly like a lame duck president.
Also, he is facing a summons to appear before parliament, something that has never happened before. He faces questions about his government’s poor economic performance as well as corruption charges. With the new ultra-conservative makeup of the parliament he need not expect an easy time.
How this will play out to the outside world has still to be seen. However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported that it has ‘serious concerns’ about unspecified activities at military establishments related to nuclear activities. IAEA inspectors have been refused access to some sites.
The Tehran Times reports that the Iranian Oil Ministry has warned European states that if they do not agree to 3-5 year deals and pay on time then they will not be sold Iranian oil. Belgium, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands have all been targeted, but others named include Italy, Portugal, Germany, Greece and Spain. It is a somewhat hollow threat because the European Union has already placed a ban on imports of Iranian oil after July.
The next few weeks will reveal if Iran intends to become more reactionary. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Barak Obama have been talking in Washington, with the Americans urging Israel not to take military action against Iran.