Iran voted Rouhani again – now what? The $350-billion question for Trump
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Catherine Shakdam

Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen.

For a country labelled a theocracy, Iran certainly knows how to throw a presidential election. One more cynical than I may even go so far as to posit that Iran has mastered the art of democracy, right down to the posters and caps.

Yes, I said it, and at the risk of sounding smug, I will continue to say it: the Islamic Republic of Iran is democratic. I realize what a disappointment it must be for neocons everywhere, but the great enemy of the West is in fact a fierce defender of pluralism and political self-determination.

And while I will grant you that the Islamic Republic has borne many great crosses since its inception – no one in Tehran has ever claimed that perfection was anyone’s birthright – much can be said for a nation that has existed amid struggle and war, for it imagined itself free from the tyranny of imperialism.

If I may stray a little from the subject at hand, I would like to remind the reader that since Iranians spoke their Islamic Revolution to life, they were never given the opportunity of a break – rather, their institutions and sovereignty were challenged so that the nation could be reverted to a state of dependency.

Let’s not fool ourselves into believing that Iran’s bid for independence in 1979 did not profoundly upset the balance of powers – and by that, I mean imperialism. It was never Iran’s institutional choice that bothered western capitals, but rather the Islamic Republic’s stubborn determination to stand sovereign over its land, natural resources, traditions, and history.

Now perhaps you will better appreciate the bile our very own Western complex has thrown at a nation whose ambitions are not different from its own, while it has courted those very regimes that seek the annihilation of freedom itself. Need I name that land that US President Trump descended upon in Air Force One?

Iran, I repeat, is a functioning, thriving, and pluralist democracy. My statement is made not out of misplaced sympathy, but actual experience. As it happens, I was lucky enough to follow one of the presidential hopefuls – Seyed Ebrahim Raisi – on the campaign trail, and what I saw was nothing short of inspirational.

What I witnessed was a nation in control of its political future, in tune with its system of governance, and in harmony with its many differences. If Iranians do in fact disagree on how their country should be led and by whom – which is kind of the point in a democracy – they have not reduced themselves to running an episode of the Real Housewives…

As the Western world has struggled with political apathy and pandemic disenfranchisement, Iran has remained politically aware, politically savvy, and more importantly, politically sound, despite a litany of interferences.

An article by the Wall Street Journal crassly called on Iranians not to vote – an interesting stance from a nation that calls itself the Land of the Free. The title read, ‘An Iranian Voter’s Guide: Don’t Vote.’

Regardless of what one may think of Iran or its system of governance – the Governance of the Jurist (Wilayat al-Faqih) – it remains nevertheless true that the Islamic Republic has managed to build a democracy amid a barrage of sanctions and vicious misinformation campaigns.

In the land of Ayatollahs – a term I’m sure has made more than one ethnocentric Western bigot smirk with gleeful disdain – elections are meant as an exercise of sovereignty and pluralism. For all the criticism that experts, politicians, and foreign officials may have hurled against Iran over its alleged democratic shortcomings – which you will note have yet to be substantiated by facts – none can accuse the Islamic Republic of electoral incorrectness.

With a turnout of over 73 percent, Iran is overwhelmingly more engaged than its western counterparts – that, of course, we seldom are told.

Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani was elected for a second term… now what? What happens next, and more to the point, what will America’s Trump do with that reality?

I would say that’s the multi-billion-dollar question… $350 billion to be precise.

Are we really buying the timing of President Trump’s visit to the very theocratic, and very lethal, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

We better not, otherwise we all would be missing the Washington-Riyadh passive-aggressive overture against Iran, and Iran’s democratic reality. Timing, as they say, is everything.

Indeed… just as Iranians were busy discussing the latest debates to determine which candidate they felt was most suited for the job, the Kingdom and America were playing target practice on innocent civilians to gauge just how much chaos they could raise and wield as a weapon of political mass manipulation.

Thankfully, America is just not as imaginative as it used to be – or maybe it is that the neocons played too many tricks for anyone to be under any illusions anymore. Recycling the same narrative against one’s enemy to assert one’s imperialistic narrative has only ever served to unveil that very agenda one intends to hide. But hey, it’s just a big conspiracy theory, right? America would never lie about its true intentions, and never would it support regimes that stand Democracy’s way.

If only…

So, what now?

Not much actually. Now that election fever has dissipated, Iran will pick up where it left off, meaning that Tehran is still very much committed to upholding the terms of the JCPOA, that Syria and Iraq both remain important military flashpoints against ISIS, and that the Islamic Republic will work to assert its independence within the framework of international law.

I will leave you with Seyed Raisi’s comments from our interview, as I believe he best encapsulated what Iran envisions for its future.

We are open to have relations with all countries, however, an honorable relationship. This kind of relationship requires that any agreement, any accord, any deal be treated with dignity and respect, and we will not allow any such agreement, in every activity, we will not permit that the honor of our country be put in harm’s way.”