The votes have been counted in Iran's presidential election, and Tehran's ultra-conservative, hard-line mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has emerged victorious. Ahmadinejad waxes nostalgic for the "good ol' days" that followed the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and has hinted that he may attempt to recreate the repressive, virulently anti-American atmosphere that characterized that era.
More ominously, Ahmadinejad remains fully committed to Iran's nuclear program, albeit for "peaceful purposes."
A number of foreign governments have condemned the Iranian vote, noting the large number of candidates that were disqualified by the government, and allegations of voting fraud. But Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimo Peres said it best:
" Neither the primaries nor the recent round of elections were free, and were contests between extremists. The candidates were pre-determined, as were the results...
The conclusion is that the dangerous combination of extremists, non-conventional weapons and isolation from the West will continue, and will generate a great deal of problems for the free world."
Ahmadinejad's election suggests that hope for genuine reform in Iran are over, at least for now. And, his projected hard-line policies put Iran on an accelerated collison course with nations threatened by Tehran's nuclear ambitions, notably Israel. The Sharon government has been weighing its military options for sometime, and Ahmadinejad's victory may increase chances for a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. There is no evidence Mr. Sharon has given his Air Force the green light, but the Iranian election may pushed the strike option from the "possible" to the "probable" category.