Obama Must Condemn Iranian Election Result or He will be Irrelevant

by Gedalyah Reback

The public is angry and there is no popular dispute about it: the Iranian election was stolen.

Riots continue across Tehran against the official results.

The interior ministry contacted Mir Hossein Mousavi before results were announced, telling him he had won the election, but supposedly to wait for a public announcement. When the campaign leaked the results openly, the Iranian government quickly responded that Ahmadinejad had won, even though only 20% of the vote had thus far been counted. The results’ final percentage barely changed, even as precincts that were overwhelmingly supportive of Mousavi submitted their results.

The Iranian public will never accept this result as legitimate, no matter how much longer this regime lasts. Additionally, Muslims will watch carefully to how Barack Obama reacts to this result. To seriously engage democrats in the Muslim world, or be taken seriously in regards to freedom from repression and the rights of free speech, assembly and representation, he will have to condemn this election result. President Obama cannot have both democratic progress and dialogue with Iran at the same time. Choosing ‘pragmatic’ diplomacy will not be appreciated by Middle Easterners in this situation. This is the most extreme of cases, and most blatant attack on democratic principles there in decades. The Bush Administration never encountered such a blatant violation of free and fair elections.

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