Every news station that you turn to and every link you click takes you to yet another article about the Iranian election. From the poll coverage to the street protests these last 24 hours have been filled with article after article and story after story about the presidential election in Iran. The overall tone is that of surprise. The media seems surprised by the election results as much as they are of the violent protests in Iran. Mousavi’s supporters express shock and surprise at the election results. And Iranians in general seem surprised that Mousavi supporters and Mousavi, himself, are crying foul.
Why so surprised?
Mousavi, no matter how many votes he got, was never going to win the election. The Supreme Leader essentially determines who wins, and it is widely known that he supports Ahmadinejad. Khamenei decides who even gets to run for the office. Not to mention the complete corruption of the Iranian government and officials. Is it really any wonder that Ahmadinejad won?
Would it really change anything if he hadn’t? No. The role of President in Iran is similar to the role of Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street. A puppet. Nothing more. Iran’s President, much like our iconic green Muppet, stands in the spotlight, makes speeches and plays the role of figurehead – were the Iranian government a TV show Ahmadinejad’s face would be on the cover of the DVD box set.
But unlike Kermit, if you look behind the curtain there would be no lovable Jim Hensen.
The Iranian government is essentially controlled by one man, Ali Khamenei. Khamenei is Iran’s Supreme Leader. If the Iranian government was The Muppet Show – which it essentially is – Khamenei would be Jim Hensen. Only without the goodwill, lovability and sense of humor. So while Iran has a President elected by the people, it really doesn’t matter who he is or what he thinks. He is there for aesthetics. When he goes to the podium and opens his mouth you may hear his voice… but it is Khamenei’s words that he speaks. It is Khamenei’s stance that he takes. It is Khamenei’s views that are expressed and carried out.
Even if Mousavi was declared the victor, it wouldn’t change anything. Not for the Iranian people and certainly not for U.S. relations.
So the question remains. Why be so surprised?