As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Ahmadinejad's Inauguration Day

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in for a second term yesterday amid much protest and even more defiance.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in for a second term as Iran's president Wednesday while security forces battled hundreds of protesters chanting "Death to the Dictator" in the streets around parliament where the ceremony was held.

Key opposition leaders, moderate lawmakers and all three of Ahmadinejad's election challengers boycotted the swearing in ceremony. State-run Press TV said more than 5,000 security forces were in the streets around parliament and police with sniffer dogs patrolled the area after the opposition called for demonstrations to coincide with the inauguration.

Hundreds of protesters chanted "Death to the Dictator" before security forces broke up a demonstration near parliament, striking people with batons and blasting them with pepper spray, witnesses said.

The opposition has vowed to continue rolling protests. Iran society will never be the same, at least not until the regime either restores its legitimacy (through concessions or official violence), or is driven out.

And then there's the issue of engagement with the West, obviously strained even further by the arrest of three American hikers along the border with Kurdistan, who the Iranians have designated "spies." I do not hold high hopes for engagement, which is probably why the Administration is foregrounding the big stick in their public diplomacy right now:

The Obama administration is talking with allies and Congress about the possibility of imposing an extreme economic sanction against Iran if it fails to respond to President Obama’s offer to negotiate on its nuclear program: cutting off the country’s imports of gasoline and other refined oil products.

The option of acting against companies around the world that supply Iran with 40 percent of its gasoline has been broached with European allies and Israel, officials from those countries said. Legislation that would give Mr. Obama that authority already has 71 sponsors in the Senate and similar legislation is expected to sail through the House.

In a visit to Israel last week, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, James L. Jones, mentioned the prospect to Israeli officials, they said.

I wonder whether this will actually backfire and punish those in the street who are battling the regime, while the hardliners manage to keep what refined oil can get produced and shipped for themselves and their cronies. A country that is already beating and imprisoning its own people shouldn't have much difficulty causing them more suffering. There's also the question of getting the world to go along with this.

The promise of Iranian engagement has been really wounded by this internal strife.

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