Iranians in sham presidential election
The Iranians insist that everything is on the up and up as far as the presidential election being held today is concerned.
But the government controls every aspect of the vote; ballots, ballot boxes, precincts, and, of course, the count. And Iranian expats are reporting that Rev guards and the religious police are out in force, watching as citizens vote - ostensibly to make sure they vote for the right guy.
But at this point, most in the West are relieved to see the end of Ahmadinejad's rule. The general feeling is that anyone would be better than him.
Be careful what you wish for:
The 50 million eligible voters had a choice between six candidates to replace incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but none is seen as challenging the Islamic Republic's 34-year-old system of clerical rule.
The first presidential poll since a disputed 2009 contest led to months of unrest is unlikely to change rocky ties between the West and the OPEC nation of 75 million, but it may bring a softening of the antagonistic style favored by Ahmadinejad.
World powers in talks with Iran over its nuclear program are looking for any signs of a recalibration of its negotiating stance after eight years of intransigence under Ahmadinejad.
Voting in the capital Tehran, Khamenei called on Iranians to vote in large numbers and derided Western misgivings about the credibility of the vote.
"I recently heard that someone at the U.S. National Security Council said 'we do not accept this election in Iran'," he said.
"We don't give a damn," he added.
On May 24, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry questioned the credibility of the election, criticizing the disqualification of candidates and accusing Tehran of disrupting Internet access.
All the remaining contenders except current chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili have criticized the conduct of diplomacy that has left Iran increasingly isolated and under painful economic sanctions.
After casting his vote, Jalili said: "Everyone should respect the name that comes out of the ballot boxes and the person people choose," according to ISNA news agency.
Hossein, a 27-year-old voter in Tehran who belongs to the Basij hardline volunteer militia, said he would vote for Jalili, 47, Khamenei's national security adviser and a former Revolutionary Guard who lost a leg in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
"He is the only one I can trust to respect the values of the revolution ... He feels and cares for the needy," Hossein said.
Jalili sounds like a winner to me. Khamenei is not likely to make the same mistake that he made about Ahmadinehjad, who ended up publicly challenging the old Ayatollah's authority. Better to have a close aide who will do as he's told in order for the Supreme Leader to maintain his iron grip on the government and country.