Consequences of Iran’s Presidential Election Results

Consequences of Iran’s Presidential Election Resul
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election victory could pose an insurmountable challenge to the Obama administration’s engagement strategy, but Iran remains integral to critical foreign policy challenges.
Related Media and Tools

Following the surprise announcement that President Ahmadinejad had won outright the first round of Iran’s presidential election, Karim Sadjadpour explained the implications for the Obama administration’s diplomatic initiative with Iran and the domestic reaction.

Key points:

  • The United States should wait until the election has played out domestically before commenting on or reaching out to the Iranian government.
  • Ahmadinejad’s victory could pose an insurmountable challenge to the Obama administration’s engagement strategy, but Iran remains integral to critical challenges including Afghanistan, the Arab–Israeli conflict, terrorism, and energy security. Once the dust settles the United States will eventually have no choice but to talk to Tehran, but it will likely be a cold, hard-nosed dialogue rather than friendly greetings.
  • Despite being the true source of power, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is rarely held accountable for Iran’s economic malaise or political isolation, given the high profile of the Iranian president. The United States should announce publicly they wish to talk directly with Khamenei.
  • In the thirty years since the Islamic revolution, Iran’s political elite have never been so divided.
  • While dramatic, the current protests are not yet significant enough to pose an existential threat to the regime.

Sadjadpour said:

“In retrospect, it looks like the entire campaign was a show, in the sense that Ayatollah Khamanei was never going to let Ahmadinejad lose. Assuming these results are allowed to stand, I think we should be clear about what type of regime we are dealing with in Tehran. Just as we talk about Assad’s Syria and Mubarak’s Egypt, I think we are now dealing with Khamanei’s Iran.”

End of document

About the Middle East Program

The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.


Stay in the Know

Enter your email address to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20036-2103 Phone: 202 483 7600 Fax: 202 483 1840
Please note...

You are leaving the website for the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy and entering a website for another of Carnegie's global centers.