Expert: Iranian protesters' uprising puts Ahmadinejad on political probation
Hundreds of thousands of protesters march Thursday in Tehran, Iran. (Getty)
Frederick Shiels, a political science professor and foreign policy expert at Mercy College, spoke with amNewYork about fallout from the Iranian election:
Will this outpouring of support impact the outcome of the vote?
The popular uprising is unlikely to result in a new vote or recount, but it will certainly send a strong signal to [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad and his supporters that they are on a kind of political probation with much of the country.
Do most Iranians believe Ahmadinejad won?
Most, but far from all, believe the incumbent has won. But he has also lost in the sense of losing international credibility, even in the Muslim world.
Do these massive rallies signal an upheaval within Iran? Who is behind them?
There is nobody really behind the upheaval. It is a largely spontaneous and fueled partly by the younger and more progressive, pro-Western minority that the clerics so fear.Ahmadinejad likely will remain president, but how will this public outrage impact him domestically and in the international arena?
It will give him pause. Leaders tend to put self-preservation ahead of repression when the cards are stacked against them. [He] will rail against outside influence and proceed exactly as he has before. No more, no less.
Do you foresee a power-sharing deal?
Probably not, but events may influence the clerics that guide Ahmadinejad to give some lip service to reconciliation. The Western media tend to engage in magical thinking that the vocal minority protests in Iran may bring about a reverse replay of the Shahs overthrow in 1978-79.
Has the Obama administration struck the right tone?
[President Barack] Obama himself has been measured and intelligent; his chief advisers have urged a more vocal, critical approach to the elections. Obama will probably slightly ramp up his remarks to appease the media and his advisers.
What impact has the Internet (Facebook, Twitter ...) and new media have in fueling the opposition?
There is no question that the use of cell phones and the Internet has ushered in a new era of global peoples reporting of the unfolding of a historic uprising.