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And The Winners Are.........

Discussion in 'Middle Eastern Politics' started by The Bare Knuckled Pundit, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. The Bare Knuckled Pundit

    The Bare Knuckled Pundit Active Member

    May 21, 2009
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    Charleston, WV
    This past weekend was a milestone in the tumultuous love-hate triangle between the United States, Israel and Iran. A record turnout for an ultimately controversial Iranian presidential election followed by a major policy address by the Israeli Prime Minister that many view as a direct response to the Obama administration's insistence that Israel must not only accept the two state solution as the basis for a peace with the Palestinians, but that the first step to the fabled promised land of peace is the immediate cessation of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. Indeed, the weekend was anything but a yawner. The question is - Just how monumental was it?

    Due to the fact that this weekend's events will resonate literally for years to come, to attempt to analyze their impact in one post would either result in a shoddy, headline-heavy piece that provides little illumination and insight or a dissertation who's length would require a time commitment commiserate with that of smoking a premium cigar. That being the case, let's pull out the program, take a good look at the players and see who the apparent winners and losers are. If only initially, at least.

    That being said, join me if you will, as we take a look at the Winners today.

    The Winners

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and hardline regime elements - Having initially been declared the victor and receiving the Supreme Leader's blessing in Friday's presidential plebiscite, it appeared as if incumbent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his hard line supporters were set to firmly retain control of the helm of the Iranian ship of state. In addition to returning the self-styled populist and vehemently anti-Western Ahmadinejad to office, his victory reinforces the increasingly powerful and influential role of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and their civilian paramilitary counterparts, the Basij, in the nation's politics and governance.

    Furthermore, with Ahmadinejad retaining the presidency, there is little hope Iran will veer from it's current course of aggressive militarization, regional destabilization, rhetorical belligerence and uncompromising pursuit of nuclear power, both civilian and military.

    Please note the emphasis on "initially been declared the victor". With protests in the streets following allegations of massive election fraud by challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi, questions quickly rose about the legitimacy of Ahmadinejad's victory. Backtracking from his initial blessing of the state-pronounced results, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei assured Mousavi that the Guardian Council -- a body of top clerics and judges -- will formally investigate his claims of ballot rigging. The Council's findings are expected to be issued within 10 days.

    However, until such time as the results are overturned or Ahmadinejad is driven from office, he, his supporters and fellow hardliners remain the winners, if only initially.

    The Palestinians - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a conservative hawk himself, unequivocally accepted Washington's proposed two state solution and the creation of an independent Palestinian state; albeit a demilitarized and semi-sovereign one.

    Though Netanyahu's terms were immediately rejected by both the Palestinians and leaders across the Arab world, the fact that the hawkish Prime Minister publicly accepted the creation of an independent Palestinian state after decades of strident opposition is a sign of progress, however grudging it may be. The question is, though, can the Palestinians move beyond their initial disappointment. Can they provide Netanyahu with the political capital to continue to move forward by making reciprocal gestures such as accepting the right of Israel to remain a Jewish state.

    Israeli Hawks - Among the unintended beneficiaries of Ahmadinejad's victory are Israeli hawks. Feeling increasingly alienated from and pressured by the Obama White House, the apparent victory of the incendiary anti-Israeli Ahmadinejad underscores the belief that ultimately Israel can rely solely on itself for it's national security.

    Despite flowery platitudes of the special and endearing relationship between America and Israel, Jerusalem must maintain the resources and capabilities to independently guarantee both it's sovereignty and very existence, the hawks argue. Furthermore, it must retain the right and ability to aggressively defend it's national interests, regardless of the direction and ferocity of the political winds blowing from Washington. Ahmadinejad's victory buttresses the hawks political position and underscores the urgency of their arguments.

    Finally, though angered by Netanyahu's reluctant acceptance of Palestinian independence, the hawks were heartened by his resolute defense of Israel's right to "natural expansion" of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and his unflinching insistence that Jerusalem will forevermore remain the undivided capitol of the Jewish state.

    The White House - After repeatedly emphasizing the indispensability of an independent Palestinian state as part of a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace, the White House anxiously awaited Netanyahu's address this weekend. His public acquiescence to Washington's preferred long term solution to the Palestinian issue is a sign of the administration's success in leveraging the Israeli hawk forward, however minimally it may appear. This gives the administration political clout to press the Palestinians and their Arab patrons to take reciprocal steps. Not insignificantly, it also allows the administration to save political face by appearing to exercise influence over what is perceived by many to be a recalcitrant and defiant government in Jerusalem.

    Twitter - Throughout the day Friday and over the course of the weekend's unrest, Twitter was the epicenter of a frenzied Iranian-focused maelstrom in cyberspace. As Iranians provided eyewitness updates via the social media/networking site, supporters globally railed against the alleged election fraud, subsequent clashes between riot police and Mousavi supporters and the perceived lack of coverage and apparent indifference of Western media outlets. Once again, the social media/networking site stepped to the forefront of a burgeoning movement of direct, interactive person-to-person journalism and political discourse.

    CNN - Having wholeheartedly embraced the social media/networking movement, the Atlanta-based satellite/cable network learned the hard way that if you live by the Tweet, you may likewise die by the Tweet. As allegations of election fraud and reports of unrest exponentially grew, CNN was mercilessly blasted in the Twitterverse for running prerecorded programming. While peer competitors Fox News and MSNBC were spared the death of a million Tweets, the episode attests to the network's dominance in the field of international news coverage in the satellite/cable medium.

    Indeed, viewers were so enraged due to the fact that they have higher expectations of CNN than they do their peers. At least when it comes to international news, if nothing else. In essence, they have fallen victim to their own marketing as "the most trusted name in news".

    With the network's producers, reporters and anchors avidly using Twitter for story leads and to interact with their audience, one shouldn't be surprised that the cheers quickly turned to jeers when it appeared that CNN was at best ambivalent to the rising tide of Tweets lamenting the developing situation in Tehran. To their credit, network anchors and reporters addressed some of the Twittercism live on-air Sunday afternoon. Though the network clearly enraged part of it's audience, the fact that this passion is rooted in the view that they are a critical international media outlet lands them solidly in the winners' column.

    Have no fear, faithful readers. The revolution will be Tweeted as well as broadcast live via satellite!

    Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and join us tomorrow as we take a look at those forlorn souls who sadly ended up on the short end of the proverbial stick this past weekend and are counted among the ranks of the losers!

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