Iran’s presidential election and foreign meddling

August 14, The Iran Project – There is not much time left to Iran’s 12th presidential election which is slated for May 19, 2017. In the recent periods, foreign policy has been in effect more than the past presidential elections so any possible foreign meddling in the Iranian election should be examined carefully.

Direct foreign meddling

According to Iran’s domestic rules, direct foreign meddling, such as financial assistance to candidates, is legally prohibited. However, in the 2009 Iran presidential election which turned to violence due to street protests and fraud allegations by the defeated candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Saudi Arabia financially supported the campaign but it was not directly.

In general, it can be said that in today’s Iran, there is no direct foreign intervention, like the one during the Pahlavi era, when the Members of Parliament were determined in coordination with the Russian and Britain embassies.

Direct support for a candidate

Due to the negative experience of direct foreign meddling in the elections during Shah era, this type of intervention has not been welcomed in Iran and if a foreign country’s president or its agents declare their support for a candidate in presidential election, it will not attract public opinions. Iranians are opposed to foreigners interference in determining their fate and it would lead to their dissatisfaction.

Of course, direct support for a candidate can be happen in a negative form, i.e. one or more countries express their concern about the victory of a candidate, like the one in the 2009 Iran’s presidential election, that it does not seem to have a great effect on the fIranians’ opinions.

Supporting or preventing the realization of a candidate’s plans

Iran itself, has a long history in using this weapon in other countries’ election, like freeing American hostages after Jimmy Carter’s failure in the US election or releasing French hostages in Lebanon four days a head of France’s presidential election that appeared to be an important spur for the fortunes of Mr. Chirac, who has trailed the Socialist incumbent, President Francois Mitterrand, in opinion polls.

Economy is the most important way of this kind of intervention. Other countries can make Iranians welcome a candidate by destroying the basis of economic success or offering concessions to advance economic plans.

During the annual Aspen Security Forum in late July, Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John Brennan pointed to the need of supporting the economic program of Iran’s government for moderators to stay in power. Brennan apparently wants to show the US support for Iran’s government to increase the chance of the country’s incumbent President Hassan Rouhani to win the election.

Taking a look at the American’s complicated behaviors’ record makes us to consider other possible reasons behind CIA chief’s remarks. It seems that, on the one hand, he wants to exaggerate the power of America’s influence in Iran’s election. On the other hand, he aims at exacerbating tensions in Iran since such support for the government makes political opposition groups to protest and sows discord in the country.

It seems that Iranian political factions are aware of the US effort to deepen the dispute between political groups so Brennan’s remarks had only domestic usage and it has do nothing with any effective intervention in Iran’s upcoming presidential election.