Iranian protests are a world game changer - Ahmadinejad came third
I don't think the world can overestimate the outcome if Ahmadinejad loses owing to protests in Iran. Under Mousavi Iran would reintegrate back into
the world, have free open trade again, and diffuse the nuclear race in the region.
It seems that Mousavi was easily winning with Ahmadinejad a distant third.
Reports have circulated of leaked interior ministry statistics showing him as the clear victor in last Friday's polls.
The statistics, circulated on Iranian blogs and websites, claimed Mr Mousavi had won 19.1 million votes while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won only 5.7
The two other candidates, reformist Mehdi Karoubi and hardliner Mohsen Rezai, won 13.4 million and 3.7 million respectively. The authenticity of the
leaked figures could not be confirmed.
Or maybe, according to Obama the changes might not be so world shaking.
Well, I think first of all, it's important to understand
that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, that the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may
not be as great as has been advertised.
Either way, we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems
in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons.
And so we've got long-term interests in having them not weaponize nuclear power and stop funding organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. And that
would be true whoever came out on top in this election.
The second thing that I think's important to recognize is that the easiest way for reactionary forces inside Iran to crush reformers is to say it's
the US that is encouraging those reformers. So what I've said is, `Look, it's up to the Iranian people to make a decision. We are not meddling.'
And, you know, ultimately the question that the leadership in Iran has to answer is their own credibility in the eyes of the Iranian people. And when
you've got 100,000 people who are out on the streets peacefully protesting, and they're having to be scattered through violence and gunshots, what
that tells me is the Iranian people are not convinced of the legitimacy of the election.
And my hope is that the regime responds not with violence, but with a recognition that the universal principles of peaceful expression and democracy
are ones that should be affirmed. Am I optimistic that that will happen? You know, I take a wait-and-see approach.
Either way, it's important for the United States to engage in the tough diplomacy around those permanent security concerns that we have--nuclear
weapons, funding of terrorism. That's not going to go away, and I think it's important for us to make sure that we've reached out.