A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
June 15, 2009 Turmoil in Iran Reactions to Netanyahu Speech
The streets of Teheran were filled with demonstrators today. The total number of demonstrators is unknown, but there were hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Teheran some say a million, with large numbers in other cities as well. Their calls: "down with the dictator", harkens back to the original Iranian revolution. The question is what happens now? In the past, the moderates have always backed down in the face of conservative opponents. This time may be different. The stealing of the election by the supporters of Ahmadinejad has removed any legitimacy the current regime had with the people of Iran. Until now the veneer of democracy gave an outlet to the people. It gave them some sense their voices mattered. By removing that cover the people of Iran have woken up to find they are living in a "run of a mill" dictatorship. Today the leading opponent, Hussein Moussavi, left his home and attended the demonstration. He called on the protestors to continue their protests. He vowed to continue the fight whatever the cost. The clerics, at this point have lost. There are only three possible outcomes: either they give in, announce a recount and admit that Moussavi is the winner; call a new election with the proper monitoring; or brutally surppress the opponents. All of those outcomes will significantly weaken them. It is also not clear they can succeed in putting down the demonstrations. Ahmadinejad has the Revolutionary Guard at his disposal. The loyalty of the regular army however, is very much in doubt.
It’s a day after Netanyahu’s big speech, and the reactions and analyis continue. The speech clearly succeeded with its intended audience. President Obama’s Press Secretary answered the following question aboard Air Force One:
Q: In the Netanyahu speech yesterday, the administration sort of welcomed the things that he had to say about a separate Palestinian state, but the Palestinians have pretty firmly rejected it. Did the President really get what he needed from Netanyahu in order to push the peace process forward?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think the government -- the Netanyahu government took a big step forward yesterday in acknowledging for the first time the need for a two-state solution. I think the President believes that there is a long way to go and many twists and turns in the road to get there, but is pleased thus far with the progress that's being made. And I think yesterday's speech certainly is a big part of that.
European reaction was similar, if a little more reserved. The Palestinians continued their denouncement of Netanyahu speech, saying all his conditions on Palestinian statehood made his offer moot. They attempted to spin it as if his conditions were preconditions to negotiations, but they were not, they instead have been putting preconditions on the negotiations... they want to pick up were the last negotiations ended. Unfortunately for them, the agreed upon rules of the last negotiations were that none of the agreements reached were binding, unless a full agreement was reached.
David Makovsky had a very interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal today, called "Mideast Peace Can Start with a Land Swap". In the article he suggest a way to move forward is to agree on the final borders and a land swap, thus making the building in many of the settlments a non-issue.