The eleventh Iranian elections are over but were not really open and fair. No election can be fair when the candidates have been handpicked and propped up by one man: the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. The entire event, mostly a show for international consumption, was orchestrated within a police state. "I recently heard," Khamenei said, "that someone at the U.S. National Security Council said, 'We do not accept this election in Iran.' We do not give a damn."
Khamenei has often said, "Any vote that is cast for the candidates who have been picked, is a vote for the Islamic Republic. In fact all voting is a vote of trust and support for the regime." Iranians who voted were not electing a president but validating the Velayat'eh Faqih (the absolute mandate of jurists).
Iranian media and the internet are totally censored; the actions of the regime's elite never reach the people inside. Additionally, both foreign and domestic media have been banned, with the exception of CNN, who sent American reporters. Part of that coercive measure has included the imprisonment of various Iranian journalists.
Hassan Rouhani, the only cleric among the candidates, is a relic from the early days of the Revolution. His birth name is Hassan Feridoon -- a more Persian name then his Muslim name, Rouhani, meaning spiritual. Since the government takeover of the Islamic Revolution, Rouhani has held multiple positions, including Secretary and Representative of the National Security Council, member of the Assembly of Experts, member of the Expediency Council, President of the Center for Strategic Research, and various positions in the Iranian Parliament. In the early days of the revolution he was put in the position of Military Coordinator where he purged the existing military and replaced them with Khomeini loyalists. During the Iran-Iraq war, he served as Rafsanjani's right hand man.
Khatami and Rafsanjani played a significant role in Rouhani's victory by holding off declarations of support and persuading their actual candidate, Mohammad-Reza Aref, to drop out to avoid a split vote. So as of four days before the actual election day, Rouhani had emerged as the fake-reformist, "moderate" candidate in the race. As the peerless Iranian expatriate journalist, Amir Taheri, has written, "He never reformed anything."
Many reputable Iranian analysts such as Dr. Alireza Nourizadeh, have said, "Rouhani has never been a reformist, however he is supported by some members of the so-called pragmatists, like former Mullah Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Khatami. In fact he is a representative of the Supreme Leaderhip and has always been very close to Khamenei. From that aspect, this election was more like a poll for the regime as it wants to show itself as a populist entity."
As a negotiator, Rohani is triumphantly duplicitous, known to lull his non-Iranian counterparts into a false sense of calm. Despite all the talk that, during his term as a nuclear negotiator, Iran appeared more cooperative with the international community, Rohani bragged about how he had tricked the West. In April of 2006 during a speech at the Assembly of Clerics, Rouhani was caught on tape, boasting that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake -- a key stage in the nuclear fuel process -- at its Isfahan plant, but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot. "From the outset," he said, "the Americans kept telling the Europeans, 'The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.' The Europeans used to respond, 'We trust them!'"
Khamenei, however, is the master of the tactical retreat; that he agreed to have someone like Rouhani, who has the support of both himself and the reformists, was a delicate ploy in order to soften the ugly realities of the regime, represented by Ahmadinejad over the last eight years. Khamenei's past actions shows that he is able to move forward patiently to regain the various affiliations that he would have lost along the way.
"This was a kind of meager installment in the debt the regime owed the people of Iran, for having committed an act of fraud in the last election," said Iranian filmmaker, journalist and former political prisoner, Mohammad Nourizad, who following the 2009 election protests was arrested and jailed. "In other words, the regime officials envision Rouhani to be a kind of compensation for a liability that they incurred. They owed the people of Iran and the political prisoners are very much a part of that reparation."
During the last 34 years, the regime and its leaders, including Rohani, have been telling the world that Iran has no political prisoners. Now, under the pressure from people in Iran during their political campaigns, the regime and its presidential candidate have been forced to mention for the first time that there are. Shiva Mahboubi, spokesperson for the Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI) said: "Rohani announced that he will release political prisoners and will give freedom to the press. However, Rouhani is a part of the establishment and will not release political prisoners and will not allow any freedom for people or the press."
Hassan Rouhani's son committed suicide in 1991. The official line about his suicide was that he suffered from a broken heart, but Dr. Nourizadeh divulges the existence of a suicide note that read: "I loathe your regime, your lies, your corruption, your religion, your hypocrisy and dissimulation [taqqiyeh]. I am disgusted with having to live in such an environment and have to daily lie to my friend by claiming that my father is not cut from the same cloth as the regime elite and chieftains...and that in reality his heart is with the people, while I know the truth to be otherwise. When I see you kissing the hand of Khamenei, I am nauseated..."
Later, when the massive Tehran University uprisings occurred in 1999, Rouhani, who at the time headed up the Islamic National Security Council, reacted by saying: "These students are too pathetic and worthless for us to have to begin changing our directives. The continuance of this mess is not acceptable for our regime and the people. I issued strict orders against these elements [the students] to confront and severely deal with these opportunists. Wherever they are, we will handle them and suppress them. People will witness what today's security and disciplinary forces, the heroic members of the Basij (auxiliary militia) will do to these rabble-rousers and thugs, if they dare to imagine that they can continue their so-called peaceful campaign. The agent that has united our people today, is simply indestructible; that agent is Islam and Islamic rule which is the absolute symbol of the Supreme Leadership."
One wonders how a man who had this reaction to the youths of a country, means to "lead" it.