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.
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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.


In Fact



of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.


of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.


charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.


thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.


of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.


trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.


of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.


of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.


of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.


of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.


U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.


of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.


million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.


of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.


of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

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