Iraq’s impact on Iran

With many people in our democracy cheering the Iranians and their marching in the streets to ensure that their last election was indeed fair and democratic, I cannot help but wonder how much influence the fact that Iraq is  holding apparently fair and successful elections right next door has had on the Iranians and their thoughts about their own rights. I certainly do not claim to be an expert in the region or its politics, but Iraq and Iran, long nemesises, have seen a recent thawing out in their relationship and one would assume the Iranians (both the government and its people) are watching the democracy next door with interest.

Not much has been said about this probably because the U.S. and the media (and frankly most of us voters) are in a “Bush hating mentality” at the moment, and don’t want to acknowledge that a change that he and his administration inflicted is having an impact upon the world that many support.  No matter the methods (and a couple of decades ago, few people would have batted an eye if the CIA had taken out a dictator), Iraq now has democracy, certainly supported by the U.S. but still one of the few democracies in the region and the only one who has had recent bloodshed with Iran.

Almost thirty years ago (an eternity in the era of Twitter and Facebook chat) Iraq (with Sadaam Hussein at the helm) invaded Iran, and started a war costly in lives and dollars that lasted eight years, with little gain to show for it on either side in the end. Recently, with Hussein out of the way, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the first Iranian president to visit Iraq since Iran’s 1979. Is there any doubt that, seeing their neighbor and rival hold democratic elections, that the Iranians would start to push for their own?

The region is obviously far from stable, and neither are the democracies. But it will be interesting to see how history judges the impact of the Iraqi democracy and the Bush administrations hand in pushing it along. Though their methods have been condemned and their motivations (oil, influence on the Saudis, helping Israel, etc.) have been questioned, the addition of the voices of voting peoples of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan would certainly change the dynamic in the Middle East. If that will happen and how it will change is, at this point, anyone’s guess.

Whether the election was rigged or not is frankly unknown, and difficult to tell through the sixty second reporting and 140 character crap of unknown origin coming from Twitter (come on, folks, how can you tell who the source is?). But the simple point that there was an election and many people chose different sides in a country where the religious government’s chosen pick usually runs unopposed is definite progress towards democracy, the peoples power to voice, pick and choose.

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