July 1, 2009 | BY Kasey Ruedas Yanna
To be involved or not to be involved: that is the question many Americans are asking about the United States as Iranians continue to protest against the presidential election results. For almost three weeks, supporters of embattled opposition leader, Mir Hussein Mousavi, have taken to the streets of Iran’s cities to rail against what they call a fraudulent election.
And Monday’s decision by the Guardian Council, a 12-member panel of Shiite Muslim clerics and jurists who oversee elections and certify results, to validate a landslide victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hasn’t quelled the rioting. In response, Mousavi posted a message on his Web site on Wednesday, urging his supporters to keep working for the rights of the people in a peaceful way, without engaging in bloodshed.
Meanwhile, it’s been reported that clashes between demonstrators and security forces have caused at least 20 deaths since the contested election results were announced on June 12. The government has detained and/or arrested about 2,000 people, several of them opposition leaders and members of the press. Social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, which have played major roles in reformists’ communication, have been repeatedly shut down.
In the midst of the unrest in Iran, people around the world have been looking to the U.S. government for its reaction. So far, responses by officials and experts have been quite divergent. Only the split isn’t along the traditional Democratic/Republican lines. President Obama has voiced “deep concerns about the election,” but believes that direct involvement by the U.S. would not be “productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations,” which has often been strained.
On the other hand, Obama’s former rival, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), has criticized the president’s non-intrusive stance, saying that he instead “should speak out that this is a corrupt, flawed sham of an election.” Further, “[T]he Iranian people have been deprived of their rights.” But not all Republicans support McCain’s position. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supports Obama’s hands-off approach. Henry Kissinger, who served as secretary of state under Richard Nixon, said in an interview on Fox News he too thinks Obama has taken the “proper position.”
So what should America do? Should we meddle in Iran’s political affairs like international policemen or should we ignore the chants for justice by the Iranian people? Well let’s take a look at who those chants are intended to influence. The Iranian people are calling on their own government, not the U.S. government, to re-evaluate the results of their presidential election. Protesters are rallying to publicly condemn their own political and religious leaders who they believe are complicit in election fraud.
Of course, American citizens don’t need an official U.S. statement before they can support or ignore the cause of the Iranian protesters. It’s like Obama said: “The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching.” His statement has proven true, as thousands of people around the world have rallied to show support for the Iranian protesters who have put their lives on the line in hopes of political reform.
About the Author
Kasey Ruedas Yanna: Kasey recently graduated from The University of Texas at Austin. Her writing focuses on shedding light on current political issues from an independent point of view. While she tends to vote with the Democratic ticket, Kasey has conservative views as well. She thinks that what’s most important is that people are knowledgeable about all sides of an issue before forming an educated opinion. Kasey and her husband, Jason, reside in Arlington, Texas.