Reliable Security Information
The Tehran Test

The Iranian Guardian Council's announcement that it would consider a partial vote recount, following mass protests in Tehran in which several demonstrators were killed (FT), has kicked off speculation about what the fallout of the country's disputed presidential vote will mean for Iranian politics. Iran's moderate opposition has hotly disputed the government's initial claim that incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the vote. But the BBC says talk of a potential recount hasn't much cooled tensions. The Iranian government has refused to void the election.

Iran expert Gary Sick, in a new interview with CFR, says the turmoil in the aftermath of the vote will complicate U.S. efforts to engage Tehran, but says working toward engagement remains the right goal. Sick also says Washington should be careful what it says about the vote: "No matter what was said or done by the administration, it would be interpreted as intervention and would actually undercut severely the position of the reformists as they would be tagged as 'tools of the West.'"

U.S. President Barack Obama has echoed much the same point. Obama said he is "deeply troubled" by the violence in Iran, but has kept relatively mum about the vote itself, saying that he intends to respect Iran's sovereignty and wants "to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran," saying sometimes the United States "can be a handy political football." Obama reportedly moved his administration's point man on Iran, Dennis Ross, to the White House, granting him what the Washington Post says appears to be an expanded diplomatic portfolio. Obama has faced criticism (Washington Independent) from House Republicans for not chastising Iran more directly.

Additional Analysis:

  • The New York Times says in...

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