The events surrounding the elections in Iran in June have damaged not only the credibility of the Islamic Republic but also the credibility of the Middle East region as a whole--a region that has struggled long and hard to beat a hard-won path to democracy. The countries of the Middle East have gone to considerable lengths to ensure free elections even though the democratically reached results were not always what the existing powers might have wished for.
The Iranian population was obviously ready for change and displayed an encouraging keenness to take back its position in the global community after four years of comparative isolation, forced upon it by a right wing government. Young people, who make up the bulk of the Iranian population, made clear they no longer wish to be hampered by a self-serving regime that holds out no prospect of reform. But the results of the poll--delivered in record time--revealed that their hopes had been dashed. What lay in prospect was not reform but four long years of the same.
But it is not the actual result of the poll that is the most damaging aspect of the whole sorry story but the widespread belief--domestically and internationally--that the election was rigged by supporters of Mr Ahmadinejad, determined to quash all opposition to his iron rule.
Given the situation, it is more important than ever for Israel and the West...