Friday, May 27, 2005

State Department monitoring Iran elections

Philip Turner, United Press International:
The U.S. State Department told Saudi Arabian officials that the United States has a view of what freedom entails and that Middle Eastern countries like Iran will need to answer to the basic hopes and rights of its people. ...

Zelikow alluded to the elections due to be held in under a month in Iran, saying the United States will be watching carefully to see what happens in that relatively closed society. "What I think America can do is say, we have a view on what freedom means. We don't have a precise opinion on how each country should walk that path, but it is not an empty phrase," he said. READ MORE

All but six of the 1,000-plus people registered to run in Iran's presidential election were rejected by the Guardian Council Sunday, the constitutional watchdog that vets the election candidates in that country. The council is controlled by hard-liners loyal to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The council hopes to avoid political reforms offered by the outgoing president, Mohammad Khatami.

"Let's see what they wish to do. Let's watch that process with care -- keeping in mind whatever standards we think appropriate for evaluating that result -- but understanding that different societies are choosing their own paths," said Zelikow. "What the president is arguing is that there are universal ideals -- and they are definable -- we urge all countries to find the way to express the ideals which we believe their own citizens hold dear -- and we believe that assertion is no more true than in Iran."

Even if the democratic process results in leaders being elected that do not agree with U.S. policy, Zelikow said, "That's the thing about freedom -- it involves calculated risks. What we have to do is look at the net assessment over the long haul and I think it makes us better long-term partners." ...